Muffy, Let's Go Slumming!
Nah, you HATE your customers.
Since the late 1960s, with the exception of a few mini-eras I can think of (the 1980s with yuppies, the early 2000s with Louis Vuitton everything), it has been largely "uncool" to actually look like a rich person, even if you are one.
The fashion industry itself is very often inspired not by the rich people who buy their clothes, but by those too poor to afford them. Which occasionally feels very gross. Take a look at the recent controversy about fashion designers adopting the "chola" look from Latinas, which is a good example of both this tendency and of cultural appropriation. Look at the way higher fashion has adopted the looks of people who get creative with clothes they bought from thrift stores and other inexpensive places. A good example of this would be in the 1990s when people were stealing their dad's old flannels and buying plaid grandpa pants from Salvo, looks which were soon available in stores across the country for a lot more than they'd ever paid for them. The fashion industry sees these looks, reproduces them and then sells them to rich people, allowing them look like "one of the people" without having to leave the comfort of Barney's. I call this "Poverty LARPing" (LARPing means "Live Action Role Playing) -- because that is what it is.
This past week we have been #blessed with an onslaught of wonderfully absurd Poverty LARPing luxury items, all of which seem to be designed almost specifically to troll rich people and/or start a class war.
First up, we've got the Barney's Antifa jacket, which so appalled the world it was pulled from the site in a matter of days. Yes, for only $375 you could have looked pretty much like I did in college for only $360 more than I think it cost me at the time.
A dream come true!
The irony of this jacket, though, isn't just in the fact that it is a very fancy copy of a style it is very cheap to make. It's also that the very point of such a jacket is supposed to be an "F-U" to consumer culture and capitalism.
But it's not surprising that they tried it. After all, the actual reason people originally started wearing ripped jeans was that they were going to wear their jeans until they were totally worn out, rather than buy new ones. Now, rather than doing that, the fashion industry would prefer you spend EXTRA money to adopt that same "I don't give a shit" look.
Next up, we've got this tin can. It is from Tiffany's. It costs $1000 and does not come with peas or even some gold-plated soup. You have to put your own soup in it, I guess.
Why does this exist? And why is there also a fake ball of silver yarn selling in the same collection for $9,000? Why? Because people will buy it. There are literally people out there who will, rather than just go up and give $1000 to a person who is collecting cans in order to get some money for food, hand over their credit card and purchase a fucking tin can from Tiffany's for $1000, because boy is it a nice place to store their pencils.
This is the story of why everything is terrible.
In case you are now thinking "OH, a $1000 tin can? That is peak ridiculousness. It cannot get more ridiculous," boy do I have news for you!
This is a $738 dress from Moschino. It is also a dry cleaning bag.
You, the person who has not worked fancy pants retail, are probably wondering right now about who would even buy this nonsense. I will tell you. It is rich people. There are a lot of rich people who will buy anything so long as it is marked up an absurd amount. They will buy earrings and plastic purses from Claire's for $75 dollars and ooh and ah at the "bargain" they think they are getting. You can also sell them completely insane things so long as you look kind of quirky, call them "bitch" a lot, and tell them said thing is very edgy. "Edgy" is a term used almost exclusively by very square rich people to describe the normal, everyday clothes and accessories of people who are not very square rich people.
I hate to say this, but I could sell the shit out of that dry cleaning bag dress.
"Oh my god bitch, you need this in your life. It's super edgy and different and you know that no one you know is going to have the guts to wear it. Plus it's so FUN!"
Oh, what? Did I just make a $736 sale? Why I think I did. Wait, no, I made a $1200 sale because I also sold some matching earrings and a belt.
To be clear, I would not actually have done this. The point is, I absolutely could have. I did, however, start using the term "vegan leather" well before anyone used it seriously, when selling unbranded pleather bags to rich ladies who weren't very nice. I am sorry and embarrassed to say that it worked really well.
There is a part of me that is on board with this, frankly. There is a part of me that is thinking that the kind of people who would spend $1000 on a damn tin can kind of deserve to be trolled out of their money. That is the kind of con I can respect.
However, what I'd really like to see is one of these companies taking the profits from something like a $1000 tin can and giving them directly to the poor. Rich people scamming other rich people isn't nearly as satisfying as that would be.
[Huffington Post | Tiffany's | New York Post]
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse