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What’s in a (brand) name?

  • Published at 03:19 am September 7th, 2016
  • Last updated at 01:04 pm September 7th, 2016
What’s in a (brand) name?

MK, DK, CK, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, Versace, Givenchy, Zara.

Truth be told, I had to Google “fashion brands” to write that first line. I, average and one-with-the-crowd in all other aspects, have, in recent times, found myself against an avalanche of branded items on people around me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fashion brands or the people who are obsessed with them. I am no one to preach to people about where to spend their money -- I simply do not understand this craze.

This idea that having some European white guy’s name on your bag makes you more fashionable or more attuned to trends, leaves me a bit flabbergasted, to say the least.

I once had a friend compliment a dress I was wearing with: “Oh, all you need is a Gucci.” I wasn’t sure what she meant. A red bag? A round clutch? An obnoxious watch? What is a “Gucci” and why would it miraculously compliment my dress?

Could it be that flaunting some brand or the other has become the new status symbol? Having a big brand name on you instantly labels you rich enough to be the movers and shakers in town.

It’s no longer about matching heels to a dress or earrings to a top, it’s about having your best bag with the biggest letters out or making sure you don’t forget to have a bigger-than-your-wrist watch on. I wonder how our mothers would have looked in their impeccable kathaan sari with a glaring MK watch stealing the show.

Perhaps they are meant to be heirlooms?

A friend once argued that you do not get good quality in non-brand things, claiming her branded bags could last her years. If I was spending two months’ grocery money on a bag, I would need it to last years as well.

But more to her point, I have had non-brand bags all my life and still have bags I bought an actual decade ago to show for it. And these bags let me spend my grocery money on my groceries too.

If the location of the factory is where you draw the line, I suppose I understand. There is something quite “elite” about a bag that was made by some poor schmuck toiling away in some factory in Italy.

Nothing screams “rich” more than a “made in [insert random European country].” Besides, Chinese factories are only as good as your next iPhone, and you don’t want some inhumane sweatshop weighing on your conscience anyway.

It’s no longer about matching heels to a dress or earrings to a top, it’s about having your best bag with the biggest letters out or making sure you don’t forget to have a bigger-than-your-wrist watch on

Brand loyalty makes sense with regard to certain goods, electronics for instance. Growing up, we were obsessed with Sony and refused to believe any other company could make good TVs.

Till date I think I am still a bit biased towards Sony when it comes to any electronic item. Even buying baby products for our newborn, I find myself swaying more towards well-known brands of prams and car seats. However, these preferences are based on trust.

I would trust a company that has been around for decades to make my son’s car-seat rather than a company that only made it to the scene two years ago.

Older companies have customers who have been using their products for decades, and through these customers I know it will be good for decades to come.

Bags or shoes? Not so much.

I don’t think I even think that far with them. If the shoes let me walk comfortably while looking good and somehow hide my large feet and larger ankles, they are sold.

I know I am a bit of an oddball in this. But I take pride in finding cheap deals, and would gladly spend a fortune on a whole new collection of clothing than one bag. I still get a little self-conscious walking into big glaring branded stores.

If I am to wear a pair of sunglasses that cost me over $200, I feel like I should be relaxing in my private yacht in the Tasman Sea -- not toiling at a meagre desk job to pay my meagre rent.

I’m sure there are valid reasons for spending entire fortunes on fashion brands, and I’m sure the feel and look of my little tote from a non-descript store will not compare to a Gucci bag.

I’m sure people who buy fashion brands do so because they feel a certain loyalty towards those brands and couldn’t possibly deal with the low-quality of a generic item.

In any case, if you see a not-too-badly-dressed thirtysomething walking down the streets of Sydney with her generic bag and generic sunglasses, please say “hi.” I am probably walking to Target.

Nudrat Lohani Nabi is a freelance contributor.

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