Last week, fashion sass-monster extraordinaire, Leandra Medine (a.k.a. the Man Repeller) penned a piece called "The New Generation of Discernible Labels" for her site. She writes,
"Ultimately, in fashion, we’re always making a point. We often use what we’re wearing to make said point but every so often, it’s less about the actual clothes and more about our selected brands. While Vuitton may infer wealth, Nike suggests something to the effect of: “I don’t give a shit,” which in this day and age is de rigeur."
The takeaway she offers is that despite the somewhat "recent, collective nose-up at discernible branding . . . it's still about the label." And for those that eat, sleep, breathe, and blog fashion for a living, I have no reason to doubt that her assessment is spot on. But does it hold true for the rest of us?
You know, those of us who might be on the more average side of fashionable. In the moments we might try to embrace a new trend, we tend to experience more than our fair share of "epic fail". We've tried mixed-prints (effect: dressed in the dark), crop tops (effect: pretty solid, until we saw the pictures and realized we didn't look pretty but we definitely looked solid), and rompers (effect: skanky toddlers). Whatever it is that's need to pull off some trends, we just don't have it.
Don't get me wrong - that doesn't mean we are without personal style. We've got different body types, different professions with varying tolerance for non-traditional workwear, different geographic influences, and different budget restrictions on our finances and our time. So when it comes it asking what labels mean to us, I think there's as much variety in our answers to that question as there is among our personal styles.
Personally, the way I shop has evolved along with my personal style. In college, additions to my closet were usually based on whether I could wear it to a tailgate, to a bar, or both (#priorities). Generally, when purchasing for myself, I paid very little attention to the label. The most memorable exception to that being when Tory Burch flats became all the rage. I know I loved the style, but with such conspicuous brand placement and a pervasive campus presence, it's hard to assess how much of that infatuation was label-lust.
These days, I would estimate that 90% of the purchases I make are items that will continue to be appropriate for me when I am my mother's age. There are definitely brands I tend to favor, but that preferential treatment is not remotely about what the label denotes. It has more to do with the brand fitting my personal style, budget, and body-type. I'm not immune to the occasional bout of label-lust fever, but it tends to be the exception rather the rule.
Forgive me, but I seem to have misplaced my dictionary of label language. If labels "infer wealth"or suggest "I don't give a shit," why one earth would I want one speaking for me? Why let the label do the talking for me when I can let my personal (generally non-conspicurously branded) style, unique personality, and skills and accomplishments, do it for me?
For the truly fashion focused, it may really be all about the label. But for the rest of us out there, I think we prefer to let our many other talents do the talking.