Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's just a label afterall

Today's post was prompted by a comment I've read on one of the blogs I follow, where the commenter said she had never heard of a brand I adore to a point of worship. The brand in question is Sportmax, a love child of Max Mara.
This comment really got me thinking on the whole consumer culture and brand worship. While I certainly don't deny I love brands, I have to question whether I love them because of the quality of craftsmanship or the inovative design that (should) justify the price...or is it just the label and the elitism it brings?

And thereafter came a flurry of questions. Do I define myself through things? Do I wear certain brands because I want to identify with their philosophy? It's inescapable that today every brand on the market positions itself with a quasi story behind the brand, the philosophy or whatever. All this serves one purpose only: to attract a certain profile of customers and tie them to the product, which is the label of course.
And it only gets uglier. Certain fashion giants luring us in with the promise of Eco friendly, labour ethical and other BS. A friend of mine has dubbed it "the blind Tibetan nuns product" strategy.
In the end a label is just a label. I prefer high end brands because the clothes fit better, the materials and the construction are infinitely superior to mass produced fashion, keenly aware that they do charge for the label and that all that money doesn't always go to preserving the environment or to the underprivileged workers from Third World countries.

And a final word about the knit top in the pictures. It's a raglan sleeve Sportmax polo knit that is so ingeniously useless, it's bourgeois. A fine cashmere/silk knit that demands such ridiculous weather conditions, I get to wear it once a year if I'm lucky. Yesterday was one such day with the temperatures plummeting for more than 20 degrees from warm and sunny 30 degrees Celsius to a mere 10 with constant downpour.

Today promises to be sunny. I'm packing the top away.


  1. I agree with your post, all the serious parts of it and also the silly parts, connected with brands. Can´t help it.
    Lately, I have begun to look where the product is made ( as if it were the truth ) (;
    I too believe that Max Mara, etc. have that " something ", which clothes without a known brand lack.
    Your top is extra cute. Pack it away with care.

  2. I can't seem to convince myself that it's worth it to seek out "ethically produced" clothing. My own compromise is to buy fewer things, hopefully things that I will love and use frequently. And I do try to buy better quality, so that if I do tire of wearing something, it will be good enough to donate to a charity.

    I have certain brands that are favorites because I like the general look of the brand, or the fit (although fit is not as consistent as it used to be, for most brands.) And I will pay more for a label. I think quality is worth paying for, as is good design. But I do have my limits. If I feel like something is overpriced just because it has a label on it, I won't buy it.

  3. Mette: I think dressing should be about fun and I do love clothes (and shoes) but I also know that true value in life isn't in material things. So I like to keep it on the light side but I am very picky in selecting the pieces I buy and tremendously meticulous in preserving and taking care of them.

    Ms. M: The whole ethical thing is a can of worms I can't tackle right now. Even sewing my own clothes doesn't solve the problem, because I can only speculate under what conditions the fabric was made. Second hand with absurdly low prices only encourages accumulation of pieces we really don't need. I think your strategy is the best way to go, buy less and wear those things with love.

  4. I'm pretty sure I'm the commenter who never heard of Sportmax!

    In my case, I'd completely opted out of fashion for so many years that by the time I resurfaced most of the old brands had died or changed and I knew nothing about the new ones.

    So I guess I'm fodder for the industry now, trying to get me to attach to some brands. It may or may not work. I'm probably just as susceptible as the next person.

    I loved this sentence: "It's a raglan sleeve Sportmax polo knit that is so ingeniously useless,it's bourgeois." You are funny!

  5. Susan: Yes it was your comment. And I was once again reminded that something perceived as universal, is really just a marginal thing. In Slovenia Max Mara is very elite, so is Boss, a German brand I also favour.
    I think the label fodder is reserved for the blissfully ignorant.
    And thanks, my funny gene is slowly awakening, working on my thesis pushed it into a dormant state.

  6. I have a jacket from Max Mara excellent quality,also have seen Sportmax items in stores.

    I feel uncomfortable saying this item is Chanel,Cartier etc,etc......this culture is foreign to my naivety thought only 'celebs' and the like boasted designer names!!!!
    Just my personal take on this matter. Ida

  7. There is one fashion item where I can neglect the brand: its diamonds. The 4 C's (cut, colour, clarity, carat) are the same with any brand (even when Tiffany's wants us believe otherwise). For all the other stuff I rely on brands: LV and Tod's for purses plus the unique brand Horn's from Vienna, Ludwig Reiter (another Viennese luxury brand) for leather shoes, Giorgio Armani for mascara and Schwarzkopf for the perfect blonde strands. I still need to find the perfect cashmere brand, I noticed recently that brands which mean nothing to me sell cashmere sweaters for 500 EUR (!)
    I guess I don't solely rely on brands, but on the high end selection which means I get to buy only a few pieces per year which is very beneficial to the amount of clutter in my apartment.

  8. Ida: I have mixed feelings about this. I do often tell my close friends (only a handful of people) which brand and how much I paid for something is. But this is more of an exchange of information. But disclosing a label just for bragging purposes is just crude.

    Paula: I am a total amateur when it comes to diamonds. At the moment just absolutely outside my price range.
    I do agree, certain brands are very low key but the quality is outstanding. And I've never heard of Armani make up.
    As you know I no longer buy leather, so it's going to be a bumpy ride trying to find vegan retailers for footwear.

  9. Dear Coffee Addict,

    I had to quickly come here and tell you that I did not intend to offend you. I am constantly fighting the urge to buy shoes and am amused to see others who fall in the same category. In fact I admire that you do what you like and don't feel guilty about it. I don't see how my comment over on Metscan came across offensive but it was definitely meant to be that way. Please accept my apologies. With much love, Mona

  10. MrsLittleJeans: Dear Mona,
    As soon as I saw Mette commenting on this matter, I knew I have (yet again) created a storm in a teacup. And I apologize! I am just overly sensitive in all matters related to shopping habits and I thought my shoe number was deemed inappropriate, even extravagant. I've spent the better part of my adult life defending my choices in life especially my penchant for luxury clothing items. And though I have wowed to justify or explain it no longer to prejudiced people, the scar remains. Again my sincere apologies for misconstruing your comment. I'm a fervent defender of best intentions policy, especially when it comes to blogosphere and yet I've managed to fall into this trap myself.
    Again my sincere apologies.

  11. Dear Ana- In a way I am glad you commented because I got to know you better. You are sincere, honest and one-faced, qualities I love. Shopping with girlfriends and looking good ranks as one of the most fun activities I can think of and I indulge in it whenever I can.

    See you later..with love, Mona

  12. MrsLittleJeans: Feeling so relieved now :-) Thanks