Sunday, December 30, 2007

Article in the NY Times about the "Buy Handmade" movement


I was recently talking to my middle sister (who is into beading) about handmade gifts etc. I think a large part of it is rebellion against the Brand fixation that really took off in the 80s (think about those Gloria Vanderbilt and Jordache jeans commercials).

Now that you can buy expensive goods -- or their knockoffs -- more cheaply than ever, a brand logo doesn't have the cachet it once did. It's harder than ever to be unique; buying handmade is one way to do that.

Interestingly, this article on "how to be polished" notes that women who are considered trendsetters rarely wear (obvious) brand name items.

I'm not anti-logo, per se; but the brand has to mean something: real quality, not just perceived value. I read a series of articles this past summer about how many big-brand companies have moved manufacturing overseas -- and have dictated such low profit margins at those factories that the factory managers wind up skimping on stuff like the thread used to sew seams in pants just so they can make a 10% profit margin rather than a 2% margin. One fashion writer noted that she'd bought a pair of expensive pants, only to have the seams in the pockets come apart the first time she wore them. At the same time, I read an article about how one brand-name handbag manufacturer, while moving manufacturing overseas, had kept a tight eye on the quality of their products so that their brand image didn't suffer. But the point is that, generally speaking, manufacturers are actually encouraging people to have less trust in the value of their brands as consumers hear more stories about the erosion of quality in what they buy -- a sort of inadvertent "culture jamming" by the very brand manufacturers who foisted brand consciousness on us in the first place. And this is pushing people more toward buying quality goods from sources -- either individuals or companies -- who stand behind their products.


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