Growing up, I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would ever buy anything “luxury.” Bugatti, Tiffany, Armani, Fendi. These were all words that seemed foreign to me, for more reasons than just their language of origin. I knew Louis Vuitton was “a thing,” but certainly not for anyone I knew. In Wyoming, at least to my knowledge, luxury wasn’t even in the consideration set of most people.
If you talked Ariat boots or MissMe jeans, you could get people excited. But if I were wearing an Armani anything in Wyoming, I don’t know that anyone would have even recognized it. Even brands in general weren’t particularly important to me. If I could get it for cheap and make it look expensive, that was my goal. I saw people wearing A&F and I always wanted to be different. I wanted to make my own looks and find unique clothes. I loved hearing “where did you get that?”
When I came to Penn, I was inundated with brands. Hunter boots, Herschel bags, Calvin Klein clothing, and Tiffany jewelry. I quickly began to learn which brands were noteworthy, and which were absurdly expensive. I could pick out a Herschel bag from a crowd; I’d notice a Ralph Lauren Polo logo on a polo right away.
Whether or not I realized it, I found myself slowly beginning to put weight on these names that had before been on the very periphery of my awareness. While I thought of myself still as someone who didn’t care about brands, I secretly began to want those things that were branded. I became jealous of Tory Burch shoes and admired Elie Taheri dresses, hoping that some day my post-grad salary would let me have a taste of these finer things. I’d eye a Burberry scarf with a little envy.
A couple of weeks ago, an opinion article was posted in The Daily Pennsylvanian that made me really think about how I viewed things. The writer powerfully articulated his opinion that Wharton students slowly adopt a new religion and worship a new god: Money.
As I read, I began to wonder if I was the religion’s newest convert. Had I began to worship brand names and the wealth associated with them?
While brand love is high within the wealthy Penn bubble, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, I’ve been putting more thought lately into why I like brands. Is it because I’d really like an Elie Tahari dress, or would I like to have other people see me wear an Elie Tahari? Do I think Tory Burch shoes are actually cute, or are they just a status symbol?
As a girl from a small town, I’ve always strove to stay grounded. My friends and family back home have never cared about whether or not my shoes are branded, so why should I? At the end of the day, the people who matter most to me couldn’t care less about if I’m wearing runway fashions. If I choose to buy something branded because I like the look, that’s one thing. But I know regardless my future is bright – even if it’s not dressed head-to-toe in Burberry plaid.
Photo courtesy of http://cheapthrillas.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html