BLINDED BY LABELS?

A bad bargain is dear at a farthing, ‘they’ say. It is also a saying I regularly use as an excuse to splurge on something without having to explain to my non-fashion friends why it was worth every single penny (even if they are not interested in fashion, they somehow know all the prices?!). Truth is though, that saying is not always right.

For instance, I once bought a t-shirt from some mister Wang – with the perfect fit that is – that already showed pills after washing it (by hand! (in cold water!!)) twice. I mean, what the fluff? A little hole in one sleeve I got for free. (Now someone once told me the quality of the T by Alexander Wang t-shirts changed after they moved their production elsewhere, which happened right before I bought one.)

And so I went to COS, their man section to be exact. Despite the fact that I sometimes score one that passes away miraculously fast, those t-shirts last for years. And years (and shhh they are only 25 euros).

Still, occasionally I like to browse through the new collections of that same mister Wang.

What I am trying to say is that anyone – and with that I mean the ones being slightly obsessed with fashion – who tries to claim that they do not get just the tiniest bit more excited from buying designer than high street is a liar. Or is is merely me, getting blinded by the big guns every now and then?

Do not get me wrong, sometimes it obviously has to do with the quality of the product or the design…

But take some of the new shoe- and bag collection of Saint Laurent. The ankle boots could almost not get any simpler and yet they – as an appreciator of all things simple – make my heart melt. The price tag though is a whole another story, that does not make my heart melt, it makes my credit card want to melt. If it could think, it would want to melt.

Or the well known Céline shopper. No offense to anyone who paid for it and yes I LOVE it too (duh, I love all things Céline, almost all), but you are obviously not paying for the design, since it is not the most complicated bag ever. Ok, maybe a bit for the super buttery soft leather, but the bigger percentage of the amount it goes for is for marketing (in other words, we are paying for the logo, right?).

And of course we are always paying at least a little for the logo, whether it is something affordable or extremely expensive, but I have come to realize that the boundaries for what I am easily willing to pay for a bag or a pair of shoes are slowly fading. Not good!

I also realized that when I am on the hunt for something new to fill up the empty spaces in my wardrobe, the first thing I do is open all those big gunned online stores (think Net-a-Porter, Luisa Via Roma, The Corner, etc.) And then I have this friend who owns a lot of awesome clothes and when I ask her where is this cool shirt from? The answer is almost always H&M. Or Monki. Or Weekday. Or COS. Or Zara. Damnit!

So the other day, when I gave Zara another chance, I literally threw two pairs of shoes – one style, two colors – in my digital shopping cart. I swear it all happened in the blink of an eye. And they are gooood (good things come in bulk)!!

Question remains…am I sometimes blinded by the labels? Maybe I am, maybe a lot of us are, maybe we are not. Are you? I guess for me it is all about finding the right balance between getting something accessible and indulging in something desirable.

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58comments

  1. Ik denk dat we allemaal wel een beetje “blinded by the label” zijn, maar het is al veel dat we het beseffen.
    Door vaak enkele goedkopere stuks te kopen (al is dat super relatief, want veel van mijn vriendinnen zouden een basis tshirt van cos al duur vinden in vergelijking met bv. h&m) kan ik dan af en toe ook eens een mooie tas kopen of een bijzonder jasje.

    Hele mooie sandalen !

    http://www.tripsandtreasures.net
    new outfit post

  2. Wat een leuk artikel; deels herkenbaar… al heb ik gewoon de financiele middelen niet om designer clothes te kopen (designer meubels on the otherhand: ik koop geen fake design…maar das n ander verhaal) Ja, men betaald voor de naam… die paar designer stukken die heb (oa wang studded roco bag, en het wang jersey rokje) ben ik super blij mee; maar ik denk dat zo’n rokje ook prima van de zara had kunnen zijn… anyhow: ik ben er blij mee, en combineer die stukken erg graag met zara, h&m en zelfs Primark… (Tjah je moet wat als je een hypotheek hebt….)
    Succes met shoppen :)

  3. I love these sandals in white too!
    Great post by the way, I personnaly think that a lot of luxury brands are making very simple yet perfect garments because the high street does not make them. I can only afford to shop on the high street but I keep looking at the luxury brands because the high street rarely keeps things the simplest possible way The Céline tote is a perfect example- it is super simple and a tote is probably the easiest shape to make, yet it is very difficult to find such a simple shape on the high street- and honnestly I wouldn’t even consider it a knock off. They may add studs -Zara for example is putting studs on everything that would otherwise look brilliantly simple, glitter, change a little the perfect shoe shape at at this very same moment what would be a perfect basic piece stops being a perfect/basic piece. So when they make something like these shoes, it’s almost like a miracle!

  4. Like you said, it’s all part of the marketing system. I get what you’re trying to say… I tend to open Net-a-porter, Farfetch, My Wardrobe a lot more than I can afford any of their items and somehow I keep dreaming about some Louboutins and Alexander Wang’s. I always say that one of these days, Zara will sponsor me because everytime I’m looking for something, I go straight to Zara because I know I’ll find what I want and honestly? I am sick of it. But the truth is, we get unwittingly involved with high-end brands marketing. We desperately want those things because we think it is cool and fashion to have those things. And part of it is “your” fault (not you because from what I can see, you try to stay true to yourself); bloggers are developing a major role in that marketing system and people are getting obssessed with them. Bloggers like Chiara, Andy, Julie, Rumi, Gala and many, many others are the new celebrities but truth to be told – as I read on Vogue Portugal – they are just big ambulant wardrobes. And I seriously think that other people find the key to success in it. They are so terribly wrong…
    I still do want some Louboutins and I still do charge myself as guilty for wanting to indulge myself with a few high-end pieces – I even find myself wanting things I would never dream of wearing if I hadn’t seen someone using it – but I think we need to put some boundaries in it and try to connect that desire with our own style. Otherwise, we are all going to be a bunch of copy-cats.
    And one thing people should keep in mind is: not everything that’s expensive is, in fact, better.

    Thank you for bringing that up.

  5. Yes I agree. For me though, if I’m splurging on a designer piece, I have to make sure that it is comfortable, and well-made. I would never buy super expensive designer stuff that has a cheap quality. And I love it when I find something not expensive but very stylish. I also love these Zara sandals. I’ve been eye-ing them online for a while. Are they well-made? Are they comfortable? They look high-end for sure.

  6. Heel goed artikel. Ik moet toegeven, ik word zelf ook ook vrolijker van het idee een t-shrt van de ‘echte’ T by Alexander Wang in de kast te hebben dan eens van Zara of COS. Zo twijfel ik bijvoorbeeld ook nog steeds over het wrap rokje van T by Alexander wang. Is het de investering wel waard. En is het eigenlijk wel een investering nu de kwaliteit dus regelmatig teleur blijkt te stellen? En is dat hele investeren niet gewoon een truc van de labels om te zorgen dat je het wil hebben? Nu pak ik even dit merk als voorbeeld, omdat dit in je artikel staat maar eerlijk gezegd heb ik dat met alle merken. Voor een mooie tas heb ik het nog over, voor schoenen heel misschien, maar voor kleding? Ik ben gewoon te bang dat de kwaliteit teleur stelt en zelfs in de sale vind ik het nog teveel geld. Nu zit ik ook met het punt dat ik het me niet kan veroorloven dus ik de shops zoveel mogelijk ontwijk (ik word toch wel verliefd als ik alles op blogs zie), maar het blijft lastig. Het meeste is namelijk ook nog eens alleen online verkrijgbaar en dan kan ik het niet voelen, passen of even lekker in de winkel twijfelen. Dan heb je tegenwoordig ook nog al die knock-offs maarja…dat is dan wel weer gejat en dat wil je dan eigenlijk ook weer niet hebben. Erg verleidelijk is het wel, voor een prikkie de laatste mode. Dat dan weer wel ;) xx

    http://www.creativityandchocolate.com

  7. Een zo herkenbaar verhaal!
    Ik heb laatst toevallig ook over een soort gelijk onderwerp geblogd.
    T punt bij mij is alleen dat ik de echte designer stukken me voorlopig niet kan veroorloven,
    nja als ik het echt zou willen wel. Maar ik blijf het zonde van mn geld vinden.
    Toch blijf ik altijd dromen van een designer tas of een paar schoenen.
    Ik denk dat het wel in iedere meid stiekem een beetje zin.

    Xoxo

    Caroline
    http://www.pickmeanoutfit.com

  8. It’s undoubetly all about the labels. If you saw the Celine Trio, for the same price, in some random store and with a random label name on it, you wouldn’t even consider it. Simple as that.

    Also I feel that fashion blogs are what makes us consider buying such expensive pieces. Before I started to read fashion blogs, I associated thousand-dollar bags to filthy rich women, like wives of oil tycoons or something. Not in a million years I would consider buying these things. But then when you read blogs, it seems like everyone and their mother owns a Balenciaga/Céline bag. Slowly your perception changes and you start to think it’s normal to spend such ridiculous amounts on fashion. It’s an “investment”. It’s a “classic” piece that will last years. Yeah, but so will a well made bag from the high street or an unknown brand that costs a 1/10 of the price!

    It’s just that it doesn’t seem to give you the same satisfaction, to hold on to that bag from an unkown/not glamorous brand as your “classic”/”go to” price for many years… Yeah, it’s all about the brand, quality is just an excuse.

  9. I feel that all the time, and somethimes I even feel that we are not only blinded by labels, but we are also blinded with fashion.

    And somethimes I feel that everything went wrong at some point, I mean, I know what I like, but do I need to buy another lbd when I have 10 lbds in my closet. The same thing is with the shoes.

    Do we really need to buy some cheap (or not so cheap) shirt/dresses etc. in cheap materials who will be ruined after two washing, or there is some really good store that sells good materials, normal (not to trendy) clothes? or that kind of companies just can’t survive if the don’t do cheap celine copycat every season?

  10. Ahh het stuk waar je het al over had! Nice, superfijn geschreven ook :) Ik vind het heel tof om te zien – buiten dat ik niet niet enige ben die heus wel eens verblind raakt door het label.. – dat je in staat bent toch enige zelfreflectie. Top! En je schoenen zijn natuurlijk heerlijk, want ook ik heb ze beide – ze waren immers zo goedkoop.. ;)

    x

  11. Strongly disagree about your point regarding the Celine leather tote. I have never seen anything like it on the high street. I remember my mom telling me when I was younger than more often than not, the simpler the piece, the more expensive it is likely to be. It doesn’t make sense, but cheaper brands always tend to add fussy studs, buckles, buttons, sequins to everything.

    I’m with you on Wang, though.

    Some designs are worth the investment, others not.
    The game must be to figure out what falls under each category

    Cxx

  12. Goed artikel dit!
    Ik ben het met je eens op het gebied van mr. Wang, maar aan de andere kant: ik koop liever een keer een iets duurdere spijkerbroek die dan ook heel lang mooi blijft, dan elke maand naar de H&M te hollen omdat er weer gaten/scheuren in m’n spijkerbroek zitten. Aan simpele, maar kwalitatief goede producten hangt nu eenmaal een prijskaartje…

    Toch, hoe je het ook went of keert, vrouwen met enige passie voor mode zullen altijd een beetje verblind worden door merken, bewust of onbewust… That’s life.

    el-eventh

  13. I love this article and this is exactly how I have been feeling lately about spending thousands of dollars on designer items! I recently came to realize that I am wasting so much money on items that I only wear once or twice but just feel good about the fact that I own!! How ridicilous is this?? And unfortunately look at the quality of the high end fashion item these daysss.. the quality is worse than ever and prices higher than ever!! I own many Louboutins and I assure you the quality is geting worse and worse everyday. After one use the red sole is impossible to notice!!! Also, if you guys are lucky as we are over here in the US, you realize than a $1000 item goes down to $200 after a few months and outlets are full of cheap designer items!! So I personally decided that I am not becoming a victim to the marketing gurus sells the idea of quality comes with high price tag because it is certainly not true anymore!! Oh and also, seriously some designer started to make the ugliest shoes these days and I can’t hardly believe that many people think they are gorgeous just because of the brand!! I mean come on reallyyyyy!!!!!!

  14. Problem also is, highstreet may not always be wrong design or qualitywise, but all those burning people in Bangladesh… they sure don’t work for Celine!

  15. You used to wear a lot of zara/H&m in the beginning of your blog.
    I miss those daysss!!!! now you wear a lot of unknown brands for me and way to expensive;)
    hmm does that means a good blog, a good wallet?? ;p
    x zoe

  16. Brilliant posts, like you always do, but this one is beyond cool…. And indeed is true, most of time what happens with huge brands is that we pay for the logo… I won’t say I wouldn’t pay for a brand thing (As if that is possible) But lately the medium prices brands are most of times more durable than those who makes our credit cards melt, just like you said… That is such a pitty because if you pay a big amount at least you hope for it to be durable for some time… But it is a marketing stuff…

  17. On some items, you just have to invest. The understanding of what is where it goes wrong. Fashionistas (for the lack of a better word) think you have to invest in basics. So wrong. You should splurge your money what you can’t get on the high street; a (now vintage) Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo, Celine coat, Prada skirt, a Lanvin dress (with ruffles) or something else truly exceptional. A good t-shirt you can get at Zara, a piece that stands out and you will love for decades to come you can’t

  18. Oh and another tip, ALWAYS wait for sales. This year I bought my Alexander Wang tee this way for 25 among Dior pants for 50, a pink Acne suit for 150 and those tall Balenciaga boots for 200.

  19. It´s funny and interesting to read your article as I´m wearing my favorite and new T by Alexander Wang shirt today.
    I´ve bought it because I´ve heard lots about the good quality etc.! Before this I´ve always bought my basic shirts
    at H&M but after washing them they were shorter on one side, or the the seam was torn or twisted.
    So I wanted to buy one that has a better quality and lasts longer than these cheap ones do. So let´s hope it´s better than
    the cheaper version!!!!!
    I must confess that I shop A LOT at H&M and Zara and I want to stop it because they have new collections almost every week. And shopping high street clothes is not better for our credit card when you shop twice as much as you could do when buying designer clothes. I think it has to be something in between. And I also must confess that I´m a little brand lover too and that I´m totally in love with the Trio Bag by Celine but come on, 600 € for a little bag that you could easily do in a DIY????
    I think “Blinded By Labels” is something that the most of us know!!!!
    xx, Vanessa

    http://www.piecesofmariposa.com

    http://www.piecesofmariposa.com

  20. Ik snap je punt helemaal, maar aan de andere kant hangt ook nog de discussie over het letterlijk kopiëren van designers door ketens als Zara..
    Deze schoenen vind ik trouwens erg tof, maar wie heeft er in vredesnaam tenen die in zo’n spitse punt lopen?! Mijn grote en kleine teen zouden sowieso over de rand hangen haha

  21. I had the same issue with T by Alexander Wang t-shirts. They are so beautiful and they have a grate fit… but quality is another thing…. My t-shirts also had holes after a single wash…. And what about the Ponte & Leather Combo Skinny Pants??? I wear it for the first time, I am so happy on how it fits… and then when I lift my leg to go into the car I hear how the letter of the back just ripped of… To be honest, I love to watch T by AW clothes because they are beautiful, but not sure that I want to spent al that money for clothes of that quality. Because even if the T collections is not as expensive as the principal line, it is not cheap…. (200 USD for a tshirt that probably will be ruined the first time you wash it???)

  22. Great post! (Even though I’m late) It’s not easy to always keep your feet on the ground. I guess it all comes down to a few questions we have to ask ourselves when considering designer clothing. Is it really worh it? (relation between quality/price and also comfort) and is it unique or can I find it somewhere else, probably cheaper? What I find frustrating is that it isn’t easy to find nice simple pieces on high street brands. (someone said that simple totes can’t be found anywhere because cheaper brands tend to add studs to everything which is true, however simple totes can be found at Mango)

  23. First of all great post…thumbs up!

    Not only are we blinded by brands, but our society is playing a big role to this… Apparently having a label symbolizes status and achievement… Well I ain’t falling for that now… Personally I buy something because it’s comfortable, within my budget and of course just what I need… Whether its Zara, H&M, Guess etc…besides 3 or 4 digits on that price-tag doesn’t necessarily mean the best… Love the sandals, got a pair in black;-)

  24. This is an interesting and honest post that got me thinking about my own shopping habits. I can relate to how you feel about designer clothes (i.e., at least slightly more excited than high street) and I try to question this feeling in myself and understand if it’s justified. I often obsess about the perfect t-shirt or cashmere sweater or a great pair of jeans and realize that I pay a huge premium to what I could get many of these items for if I went to Zara. But on basics especially, I feel like the quality of the brand names is often (though not always) incomparable. I still cringe thinking about how much money I’ve spent on simple modal-silk t-shirts from The Row, but I wear them constantly and they feel amazing and still look like new, whereas bargain tees have lasted me for a fraction of that time. I’m probably the opposite of most shoppers who are more likely to buy basics from high street brands and statement pieces from designer brands – I’d much rather invest in quality basics (splurging on a serious statement piece usually makes me feel like a fashion victim). Like this past weekend, I came across a tee at the MM6 store that I remember from your blog sometime ago (http://www.afterdrk.com/spring-dressing/). It’s priced 10x more than what you could pay for a similar item at Zara but once I put it on, I could tell how perfect it was and how the cut and the quality of the fabric are unique. Are they worth 10x its Zara equivalent? That’s a matter of personal taste and budget in my opinion.

    xxoo
    http://www.stylesubconscious.com/

  25. I only splurge on designer clothing that are really special, handmade and on sale… but the rest of my closet… just some good old H&M’s, COS, Bimba y Lola and Zara. (But everything Dries I buy!) Love these kind of posts! x

  26. I think “would I buy this if it wasn’t designer?” is a great test when you’re ogling something expensive. That said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting designer, it’s just a question of balance. I am in love with fashion and a great bag can make my heart sing, you just have to know when enough is enough. Fashion is ever-changing and that’s one of the things to love about it, but sometimes it’s OK to observe from the sidelines instead of always getting the next bag and the next and the next. When you want the bag, just get the bag, but be honest with yourself about “needing” something.

  27. This post is excellent, you should share more thoughts like this on the blog. I think we are all absolutely blinded by labels, but most people are afraid to admit it and try to argue it as being all about quality, quality, quality. Sure, that counts for something, but we can’t deny the allure of the label…especially certain labels, like A Wang, as you mentioned, which grants the wearer with a ‘cool factor’ known to many of our favorite It girls. And, yet, as you noted, his clothes aren’t necessarily better quality. I find that the more common a purchase becomes (see: the Celine bag) the less appeal it has for me, and I’m always looking for something more unique – but that is an obsession in itself, to “be the most unique” and not “follow the crowd” and it isn’t really any different than being a label junkie, when it comes down to it. I wrote a piece on this concept on my blog, and if you ever have a free minute you should read it here – http://twentiescollective.com/2013/04/23/on-trying-too-hard/. Not trying to shamelessly advertise on your blog (I really dislike when people do that) but I think you might genuinely enjoy the post. Moral of the story: great insight, you rock.

  28. I think we all are now and then blinded by the labels. I personally invest quite a lot in jeans. I rather buy 2 jeans with good quality than jeans from H&M, for example.
    You know there’s a thing that really bothers me these days. Couple years ago I used to browse all the fashion blogs to find inspiratio and each blogger was somehow original. Girls used to wear what they like, didn’t care too much about brands. Well at least it wasn’t very noticeable. And today, all the bloggers who gained some publicity because they were somehow special and inspiring now ended up being part of this uniform high fashion industry. It’s like Isabel Marant boots, Chanel, Celine or LV bag are a must have in your closet. I don’t like this a whole lot. I don’t look up to some bloggers as I did few years ago anymore because I think they are trapped in this well though-out strategy of the fashion labels. On the other hand I know it opens up new possibilities for them and the get to experience new stuff. I simple am not that into fashion to appreciate it sufficiently, I guess.

  29. I got from de fleamarket original accesories like Balmain, Celine… when they used to do more quality products. I’m not obssesed with labels, just with the quality. Compliments for the post ;)

    eve.

  30. I’m totally with you, I mean when I go to low cost places I always find out pieces that I like a lot (and I buy most of them), but when I’m looking to high quality pieces I immediately fall in love with most of them, the fact is that I can’t buy evrything I see so my head is full of those ‘fashion dreams’ that one day I hope to buy!

    http://justsem.wordpress.com/

  31. Great post Sabrina! Your writing is exquisite. I feel the same way, it’s really all about balance.
    It’s always a pleasure stopping by your blog
    xo, from Miami Beach.

  32. Thank you for the warning about that black Zara t. I was thinking about hand washing it, judging by the delicate fabric not lasting thru the machine before I read your reply. I immediately thought about this post, remembering your Wang t that pilled and holed after two hand washing. :-) It’s funny how something you wrote months ago I would remember but for the life of me I can’t remember what I did last week.