Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Label-less Worth Less?

I own the loveliest Martin Margiela grey sweatshirt. I love you sweet sweatshirt! I wear it quite often and in a world of different ways. It's no secret how much I adore the staff at the Maison on Greenwich Street and how I enjoy the deals at Century 21. But at the end of day, when all of the work is done and the kids are tucked away, it's just a simple grey sweatshirt.

For some time the label has been dangling by dint of a loose thread on the back of the pullover. I'm not a good sewer, not even in the rudimentary sense of the word. So when it falls, it's gone. But I often wonder, my beautiful people, is a Margiela (or any other designer piece) worth any less without the label to identify it. On a consignment or resale level, absolutely. The store buyer and the potential customers have no way of knowing if something is made by a specific designer without documentation—the label.

I don't foresee myself parting with this plain, little number any time soon. But even in the quiet of my own closet, do the labels matter. I'm afraid I have to answer in the affirmative. I pride myself on not being a label-whore in the most obvious sense. You know the type, LV, F, GG, and CC plastered all over bags, jackets, sneakers, visors, and umbrellas. But I'm no better than they are. I just keep my label obsession/complex under wraps. Literally. I do, however, have some vintage Gucci bags that I carry on occassion. (Check out works by artists Peter Gronquist and Tom Sachs for more on fetishization and consumerism.)

From birth we're all about validation. Whether we're getting high-fives from dad for receiving high marks on our report card or hearing mom brag about how pretty we are to her friends, we're reminded that our self-worth is quantifiable. Some folks manifest it differently. A Maseratti does the trick for the recently signed rapper, while getting that corner office is just what the father-of-three in the suburbs needs to feel special.

I'm certainly not saying that if I were stripped of all my sartorial goodies I would instantly perish. I've got some clothing hanging in my closet that's on the bottom rung in terms of designer hierarchy. Mystique and Necessary Clothing in SoHo anyone? No doubt there's an issue of quality, but that label still has a powerful presence no matter how ill-fitting or well-made the garment is. And on some level, I have to dress a certain way to attract more clients for Style Therapy. But there's one thing we must remember. I don't mean to get all Joel Osteen, but God doesn't love us any less if we wear Mystique instead of Margiela or shop at Filene's instead of Fendi. And the Style Therapist doesn't love any less either. ((Hugs))

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