Saturday, August 31, 2013

Brand Labels

There was a time it was not only tacky, but would have even been outright baffling, to wear an advertisement on purpose.  When I was a kid, the only labels you could ever see on someone's clothing would have been the Toughskins patch on the back of someone's jeans - and that was not a statement of status, wasn't meant to be a brag.

The eighties brought us alligator shirts, and eventually Izod skipped the non-explicit logo and went straight to putting its name on things.  Then came juggernauts along the lines of Tommy Hilfiger, and paying for the privilege of becoming a marketing tool for a brand was de rigeur.

I've been thinking about this because recently I had the experience of how omitting a label can give you a great deal on something which otherwise would be pretty ridiculously priced.

Some years ago, my sister-in-law found a pair of earrings for me, which I kept in very regular rotation all the time.  They were a simple sterling design, a slender cone with filigree.  A few months ago, one of them came out while I was working downtown, and it never cropped up again.

I've missed those earrings, but because they were made by (apparently) a schmantzy designer, in looking for a replacement I was finding that a few grams of silver were costing forty-seven to fifty-three bucks.  This, for me, is kind of stupidly high, particularly for a replacement pair of earrings.

Over the course of a few months, I kept looking now and then (eBay - and, yeah, I still capitalize it that way, I'm a Virginian after all), and recently I found a pair which had a starting price of ten bucks.

The seller also omitted the schmantzy brand name.  They probably didn't know it, and the failure to suck the teat of status lost them something on the order of thirty or forty bucks.  (And, no, I don't feel I chiseled this seller; they set their own starting bid, so they determined the lowest comfortable price at which to sell.)

Obviously, I won the baubles with no other bidders.  I'm pretty pleased, not only to have gotten my earrings back, but of course for doing so without having to pay half a hundred dollars for 'em.

My dad used to express bewilderment that people were eager to become advertising billboards.  I tend to feel the same, and mostly own vintage purses (one of the favorite logo items for a women's designers) and clothing which is not easily pegged in terms of makers.  I did once buy a dress with a label on it, but because the dress was navy blue and the logo was cotton, I just used a magic marker to stain the little white box, and it disappears pretty completely.  Nearly all my jewelry is vintage (even the earrings from schmantzy designer probably date back a decade, and I count on their simplicity not screaming out some irrelevant brand which you'll notice I have not named in this post).  If anyone recognizes a Coro piece from the fifties to the seventies, fine, but it'd take a pretty different sort of connoisseur to spot and identify vintage jewelry, than someone really dedicated to today's "status" advertising.

So it's a nice little grin, looking forward to having back a gift someone chose for me, which I really liked.  And getting it for about 20% of the schmantzy maker's asking price.

1 comment:

Mojourner said...

I bought a t-shirt for the big label a year or so ago. Granted, it cost 2 bucks at a thrift shop, and the label was "Anticrombie" with the anarchist circle-A...