I saw an ad in the newspaper last week which offered a gift of a designer watch (allegedly worth 20,000) on purchase of jewellery worth 40,000. There was a picture of this watch in the ad and I looked at it with great curiosity - perhaps it was cased in 22 carat gold or studded with precious stones? No. It was just like any other watch. Or perhaps it doubled up as a computer or a television or a music system? Else why would you spend 20k on a simple device that told you time which is admirably done by electronic throwaway watches available at Rs.100 in china bazar? In fact you don’t even need wrist watches anymore as your cell phone, fm radio, and computer tell you the time. So then why all the fuss about a band around the wrist?
When I mentioned this to a yuppy friend, he looked at me like I was low life(I get these often for my naive statements)and explained that designer watches were style statements. And he also let me know that designer stuff did not usually come as packages of x cum y cum z. They were just it – a watch or a handbag or a sunglass with a enormous price tag from a reputed house. They indicated to the world that you have “made it” in the world. Since the world does not have a way to know your designation or your accomplishments or your bank balance – this is how you let the world know that you are successful. How dumb of me, not to have understood these “fine” aspects.
I can understand people wanting to own a Mercedes car – that wonderful machine that gives you so much safety while making driving a pleasure. I suppose that these designer products guarantee good raw material, fine finish, unique design and of course that most valuable name of the designer house prominently displayed on the product. But how much functionality can you add to a watch in any case? I guess the more money you have the more inclined you are to throw it on least useful stuff and the stronger the statement you make. But does someone who really feels that he has made it, the complete man or woman need this piggy back ride on designer labels to prove it to the world?
9 Responses
  1. Paavai Says:

    Interesting post Usha.

    It is like this - when all of us can wear home spun Khadi for an outfit (not the designer ones) why do we wear clothes that belong a particular price range, despite khadi being durable and also eco friendly? Clothes are meant to cover us aren't they, why do we have so many varieties in them?

    The same logic when extrapolated will get you an answer for why wear desingner stuff. I am not for a minute subscribing to designer stuff or saying that people who don't wear designer stuff are low lives

  2. Usha Says:

    Thanks. Interesting that you mentioned Khadi - was going to post something on my recent search for good stuff at Khadi outlets. Have you recently been to a khadi bhandaar and checked out the quality of stuff they sell? Abysmal. If i want good khadi material or dresses i should go the khaddar or fab India - that is the state of affairs. I am sure that if the government outlets paid a little attention to the quality of the stuff that they sell - khadi can be a great fashion.More on this another time.

  3. Pradeep Nair Says:

    You have a very good point. Another example is: women in olden days used to flaunt jewellery. Because that was the only way others could assess a woman's worth. I guess it's changing.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    If a brand defines the way you feel about yourself, isn't that solid marketing success? Also, these brands do have a "snob value"; so that extra high price - not because of the utility or quality or exuberance - but because most people want a way to differentiate & some of us want to buy something just as much for what the product has to offer as for the fact that not too many others can buy it.

    And I think that the seed of such behaviour exists in all of us, in general, & nobody looks at cars just as transport or buys Liberty Force 10 shoes - if they can help it.

    Obviously, I'm talking of a particular socio-econimic bracket.


  5. hey, i just bought a Liberty shoe (kids range, because i was looking for an orange-and-green shoe that apparently well-turned-out ladies do not wear; thankfully, kids these days come in large-feet size, so i found a rattling good pair in just my size, hallelujah!) so anyway, i wear Liberty; i dont exactly wear khadi, because as Usha said the quality is abysmal, while the price is appalachian! i do NOT buy lunatic watches, but a Merc would not make me unhappy; nor would a Sony VAIO or a library to rival the legendary Ptolemaic one. i guess what i am saying, Ushus, is that the love of 'things' is somewhat built into the modern "I", but to be "rich" is not to own things, but to be perfectly capable of doing so. Money, as James would have it, ought not be anything more than "the wind in our sails."

  6. Usha Says:

    souvik!!! long time!!!!!
    Anoooo, what a surprise!!!
    Now I perfectly understand "brand" affiliation in so much as they have come to mean "quality" these days. In fact that extra that you pay for a branded item is well worth it as it compensates you in terms of durability, ease of maintenance and better range and fit. But I draw the line there. My point was against spending obscene amounts on "designer" items purely for the label rather than any great difference in functionality. And designer does not even spell exclusivity or discernment or fineness of taste anymore as the only qualification you need is money.May be I am indulging in "sour grapism", what?
    and anoos, when you can afford those fantastic machines make them 2, one for you one for me ...

  7. Anonymous Says:

    We advertise for a world renound watch company. They have watches ranging upto 30 lakh and above.
    Marketing, the American Invention!

  8. Usha Says:

    anon, 30 lakhs huh? and what do these watches do? at least predict the day's weather and your horoscope , and read your pulse rate and BP or just tell you the time?

  9. Doli Says:

    Good post! I liked the way you write... interesting article..

    Im also sometimes amazed at the amount we spend on designer/brand names on our clothes