I’ve been in the market for a nice summer dress for a while. H&M isn’t usually my first stop, as I find clothing there a little too trendy for me. However, I found this gem a few weeks ago and I’ve been wearing it every chance I have.
I made my mom try on the same dress; I think this dress is classic enough that someone her age can also wear it(sixty). She tried it on and liked it a lot. However, when I told her that I got the dress from H&M, she immediately said: Oh! I can’t wear this dress! It’s made for wild teenagers! Ironically, moments ago she stood in front of the mirror and admired her own silhouettes intensely.
It’s interesting how she dismissed wearing a dress that fits her so well simply because of the association she had with the brand. When probed, she said that the ads she sees with this brand are full of hipsters and skinny young girls, and she doesn’t want to be associated with them. Funny, though my mom has a nice figure at age sixty, if she were to wear this dress, I or my dad) would have never mistaken her as an H&M model. H&M model’s mom, maybe, but definitely not the model herself.
This leads me to ask the question that’s top of mind for me recently. Why do you wear the brands you wear? How much do advertisement for the brand or protests against the brand influence your decision in sticking to the brand?
Girls at the office had some interesting answers:
Why do you wear the brands you wear?
Kristine: I really love vintage because I feel like it has a story and I love the idea that someone else loved it before me. I also wear a lot of Diane von Furstenberg because her silhouettes and styles really reflect the way a woman wants to dress. Other than that, I love premium denim because of the fit and fabric.
Wendy: When you get down to the heart of it, I wear some brands like Forever 21 and H&M because they are affordable and produce clothing that I like. But when I really associate myself with a brand, it’s because I trust them to produce great clothing season after season that reflects my personality, style preferences, and what I want to wear.
If you usually wear items from a brand, would you stop wearing a brand because it received bad press?
Kristine : It depends on the press. For example, I won’t buy conflict diamonds and I actively look for jewelry that has certificates stating the diamonds used are conflict free – that’s because this is something that goes against my beliefs as a human being. But when it’s something like the overt sexuality found in American Apparel ads then I don’t really consider boycotting a brand. Something like that isn’t inherently against my beliefs.
Besides, if men can openly embrace, use and profit from their sexuality in Calvin Klein or Armani underwear ads, why can’t women do the same for American Apparel? It’s 2010. Women should embrace their sexuality as openly as men. To say that these women are treating their bodies like objects or are being taken advantage of is implying that these women did not and cannot make their own well-thought, intelligent decisions. If they want to, let them. I’m all for a brand that gives them that outlet.
Wendy :I feel that no clothing is ever produced without some kind of controversy over its method of production and the materials that it’s made of. Inherent in production and consumption is the knowledge that there is waste—because pretty clothing is in itself a luxury that the world does not need to support. So really, you have to put it all into perspective.
Anyways, I wouldn’t buy clothing if it causes cancer (e.g. many faux leathers, which I don’t wear) or if it is made with new fur (can’t get behind killing the fuzzies!) but this has less to do with the brand, and more to do with the materials of individual pieces. On some level, the operations of a company is separate from the clothing that makes up its final product, and so long as the clothing fits, I’ll wear it.
How do you find out about new brands?
Kristine : Usually from blogs or friends, sometimes from Magazines or Fashion News Sites. A lot of times I’ll just stumble on them through word-of-mouth.
Wendy: Blogs, magazines, fashion sites like Refinery29. Sometimes I just stumble across them while shopping at boutiques.
What makes a brand “cool”?
Kristine : I think aside from aesthetics or being on trend, I always think a brand is cool when they have a good message or story behind them. I’ll use DVF as another example – as a person, she’s all about female empowerment, and I think that makes her cool. I want to support a designer with similar beliefs as mine.
Wendy: I agree with Kristine. Obviously, good aesthetics and being on-trend helps greatly in being cool, but I really like it when brands donate to charities or causes that I believe in. I also like it when they strive to be green, since being a Berkeley hippie has caused me to be a bit of an environmentalist.
Apart from that, I’m a total sucker for novelty and innovation. If a brand does something, either in their clothing or in their marketing that is completely different from what’s already been done, and they’re the first to do it, I’m all over it.
What are your thoughts?