Extreme consumerism

01 Sep, 2004

The extent of marketing for fashion products is unquestionable. For years, marketers have been luring youngsters into buying $200 dirty denim and $100 silky smooth shirts. If there is a demand, there will be a supply. Hence, it follows that thousands of people tail the fashion trend by purchasing Puma F1 racer shoes, Diesel watches and Von Dutch hats. Some might regard these people as ‘cool’ or ‘hip’. I can not see anything but vulnerable consumers. As it turns out, it is not the marketing method itself which introduces the product, but the irrational consumers who bring success to marketers.

Since Von Dutch is ‘in’ at the moment, I decided to take a trip to a shop on St. Catherine that carries Von Dutch merchandise. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the prices of some of their articles. Ever since that day, I have been on medication. With the store attendant’s eyes following my every move, I began to make some mental calculations, tying the prices of their Von Dutch merchandise and McGill fees. (See below)

1 Von Dutch leather jacket ($650) = 40% of my tuition

1 Von Dutch T-shirt ($130) = 25% of ‘Society and other fees’

1 Von Dutch hat ($67) = 2 Years of gym membership

Jeans (the dirty type) ($250) = Registration and transcript charges

1 Von Dutch sticker (small size) ($13) = Copyright Fees

Conclusion: Our faculty should be immediately sponsored by Von Dutch

These numbers are shocking. However, like with everything in life, there is a price to pay. In this particular case, high fashion is the price to be cool and prestigious. From just looking around, many people in the Faculty of Management appear to be willing-if not more than eager-to pay this price. You cannot go wrong showing off your BMW convertible, as you park right in front of Bronfman’s front doors.

For some time now, celebrities have been setting fashion trends. For Von Dutch, it was Justin and Paris. For Sketchers it was Britney and Christina. Since society idolizes celebrities, we begin to witness widespread cloning. Everyone is wearing transparent flip-flops, Gucci sunglasses and lululemon sweat pants. Unique is no longer ‘being different,’ but wearing your hat sideways or UGG boots in the summer.

Furthermore, it is also of interest to see how the same extremely fashion-conscious consumers can be so sensitive to world issues such as poverty, child labor and consumerism. I do not see a point in participating in ‘Buy Nothing Day’ or protesting against Chartwells if you have the leniency to buy $120 thongs and $80 plastic trucker hats. Extreme consumers also do not refrain from voicing their opinions on sweatshops.

They say, “it is wrong,” and go back to their cell phone conversations. Little do they realize that half the stuff they are wearing is made in sweatshops by children who work eight hours straight to bring back home something to eat.

On the other hand, astronomic purchases should not be regarded as ‘too extreme’ in our clubbing culture. The system in which we live demands total perfection. It almost seems as if we are unconsciously forced to go to the gym to pump iron, look our best and dine at the finest restaurants. Nightlife also serves as a crucial part of our weekends, where we get to show off our latest merchandise and make everybody jealous.

I have started to show immense respect for those who are different. Defying the dogmatic principles that govern our society, these people are not ashamed of going around with broken shoe soles, ripped pants and no make-up. They are not spending worthless amounts of time trying to hide their insecurities beneath $150 Parasuco shirts. I admire their courage. Unfortunately, our faculty does not harbor such people. I would rather it did because I am tired of feeling like I am entering a giant catwalk every time I pass through the Bronfman doors.

Who then are the rational consumers? Although many definitions can be given, they are the people that row their boats against the stream. These consumers direct their budget mainly towards necessities, while extreme consumers direct it towards necessities and luxuries.

I believe that many people wear the things they do because someone else has it. I guess people feel that it is safer to mimic others instead of running the risk of wearing something that might not be liked. I strongly disagree with this mindset. In any case, every single girl in our faculty wearing lululemon sweatpants cannot be a coincidence. For argument’s sake, if it is a coincidence, lululemon is doing something right.

Extreme consumers will continue to prevail in a society that feeds off them. They will continue bringing loads of money to the fashion industry: stimulating more child labor and sweatshop activity, giving birth to yet another vicious cycle.

What do you think about Hakan’s view of some Management students’ priorities? If you have something to say, send us your rant at [email protected]…next month, this could be you!

Photo copyright of www.vondutch.com

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