(Note: I am not watching television for 28 days. This blog may enter a dream-like contemplative state, like Roger Sterling taking LSD. God, I really do watch too much television. I need to stop making everything into a TV show reference.)
You guys know I am obsessed with aspirational marketing. My professional career has always had a good dose of marketing in it, so I like reading about marketing and advertising, staying ahead of trends, assessing brand value and understanding brand strategy. And also I want to own all the “cool” brands that the cool kids wear. Even though I say I don’t care about aspirational stuff anymore, I wonder if I am just convincing myself that temporarily until I can afford said aspirational brands again, at which point I will whole-heartedly jump back into buying Lacoste polos, Lilly Pulitzer iPhone cases, Ralph Lauren bikinis and dining at only the trendiest, Sam Nazarian-endorsed restaurants and clubs (side note: Umami Burger is now the epitome of LA hipness as Nazarian has become a 50-50 partner in all future endeavors of Umami founder Adam Fleischman)? Am I just in a different part of the cycle, telling myself at one moment that I don’t care about material things, and a few years down the road, saying the same thing as I buy a $5,000 watch because, well, who cares about material things one way or the other?
At one point, that dark vision of wealth laced with tomes of Bret Easton Ellis was extremely appealing to me. But my simple life of the past year has been so much happier than the complicated life of my early 20s that was a little more…melodramatic. I don’t miss any of that (complicated subplots among friends and acquaintances that were way more interesting than an US magazine–I used to think I’d write a story about that time. But I’m not sure I wouldn’t get sued or if I even care about old shit). So for the most part, I think I am over brands, and I can rationally explain to you why I don’t buy expensive designer stuff anymore. On the other hand, when I walked into a Nordstrom Rack yesterday to spend a birthday gift card, I couldn’t stop staring at the black Michael Kors shoppers (like this one) or the Tory Burch espadrilles. In the end, I bought nothing because I needed nothing. I realized it was smarter to just save my gift card for when I inevitably do need something, like black pants or a birthday gift.
What I am really wondering about is: when it comes down to it, am I getting any better at looking at a product outside of its brand value? Would I pick a simple, yet stylish black tote over the same black tote with flashy logo hardware? Would I pick the cute wedges or the almost-as-cute wedges from the hot designer with the not-so-discreet logo on the back of the heel?
The brand names don’t tempt me like they used to, but they stay in my head and their perceived value remains untarnished to the irrational side of my brain. I guess my rational side just has to beat my irrational side into submission until such luxuries are only a tiny portion of my income.