Living in a fashion-conscious world is no mean feat. Everyone, consciously or otherwise, can feel the pressure of having their fashion sense doing the talking for them. The important thing for many people then is to know what exactly they are saying by how they look.
While it is almost a given in our society to scorn anyone who displays an opulent and extravagant show of their wealth in public, on the other hand fashion knows no such limits.
We are bound to treat someone differently if they are wearing an Armani business suit as opposed to a dhoti. We make our money talk with what we drive, where we live, and, of course, what we buy.
The easiest and fastest way to flaunt one’s style is through fashion, since that is the most visible.
From denims to designer trousers, wristwatches to shoes and suits to scarves, there is simply no dearth of selections for those who want to look good in the public eye.
So, what does Levi Strauss, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Georgio Armani, Paul Smith and Lacoste have in common?
After all, in the words of the Gloved One, “It don’t matter if you black or white”. Besides being the names of some of the world’s biggest fashion gurus displaying their unrivalled fashion prowess, these are all brands and are big brand names while at it.
At a whooping retail price of US$90 (P660), a Levi’s 501 jean is a purchase not for the faint-hearted set well above many people’s ‘ability’, but for those who know that a brand speaks louder than words! Add to this fact that a pair of genuine (emphasis added) Levi’s sneakers fetches for no less than US$50 (P350), surely there is a lot of brand talking when one is fully dressed in Levi regalia.
Communicating delicately and succinctly about one’s status in a powerful and unmistakable way, brands are the distinct voice to use in communicating what words cannot say. We are after all, ‘creatures of communication’ wanting to be heard.
The reason why so many people place significant value on brands beyond being a means of flexing their financial muscle is that brands have, over the years, been depicted with this “larger than life” finesse, able to outlive everything else around them.
Take for example, the craze that is still there today among basketball lovers over shoe company Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers range. Why?
The conviction is that the Air Jordan sneakers can make one ‘fly’ just like Michael Jordan during his heydays as an NBA player for the Chicago Bulls. The Air Jordan is more than just a pair of sneakers, but a brand in themselves.
Or better still take the absolute euphoria over Apple’s iPod music player. Sure enough, the iPod has revolutionised the way that people listen to their music but, truth be told, the iPod and much of the Apple products are in a class of their own. Maybe the pronounced price tag on that one has to pay for these brands is what comes along for joining the cr├¿me de la cr├¿me ranks of life. Real style costs!
The trouble is that with so many ‘fong kongs’ popping on our streets every day, courtesy of China’s influx of cheap goods to the world, the voice of brands is getting inaudible. How can they not fall on tough times when rival competition is threatening the sacredness of their operations. Nowadays for example, the Nike experience themed under, “Just do it” is being rivaled at a cheap price by Nice under the theme, “Just did it”.
It is a dog eat dog situation out there!
To protect themselves from this competition, who knows, maybe in the near future brand companies will lobby for the police to check on the authenticity of what citizens are wearing. One wonders how many people would go scot-free with their brand doing the talking for them and how many would be jailed.