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Psychology was my major in college.  I was quite mesmerized by the Freudian theories of Id, Ego and Superego.

The Id theory is the part of the personality predicating on the pleasure principle.  Instant gratification.  

Speaking of instant gratification, I was passing by the Louis Vuitton store the other day and saw a horde of people inside.  There was commotion and chaos.  Kids were running around and adults looked frazzled.  The first thought that crossed my mind was oh my goodness; there is a mob inside the store!  

Usually one does not expect to see droves of people inside stores with LV kind of exclusivity factor.  You expect to see a select few carousing the products in their well-heeled soles and under the very watchful eye of the security guard.  The tones are hush and the sales staff move around stealthily in the background in their dark sleek uniforms and perfectly gelled hair.

So why the radical change?  Why do I hear sounds of babies howling rather than hush mellifluous tones?  Why do I see baby bottles on the counters rather than strategically placed trinkets to lure the buyer to buy add-ons “just because” along with the other hefty four-figure purchases.

Such swarms are seen in and expected to be seen in more “mass friendly” stores.  Curiosity got the better of me and I peeked inside.  To my utter shock what did I see?  A line, yes a queue of people waiting patiently to pay for the “exclusive” four figures and up monogramed bags!  There was surrealism to the moment.

I was befuddled, confused and perturbed.  Aren’t we going through the worst global economic crisis of all times?  Isn’t the employment rate in the U.S. the highest since the Great Depression?  Isn’t the crashing Greek economy threating to cast a dark shadow of doom over the entire economy of the European continent?  But here, right before my eyes, straight in my ocular field I was witnessing a long queue of people clamoring to have thousands of dollars charged on their credit cards for a few alphabetic symbols.

Were these people simply succumbing to satisfying their Id personality?  Seeking instant gratification.  Or were they endorsing their status in society via the monogrammed letters, giving them a feeling of success and a sense of having arrived? 

Most likely it is a mixture of both, satisfying the Id and an endorsement of societal status.  After all, aren’t the two interchangeable?

While in the Western world, there is an economic crisis, in the remaining parts of the world there is an economic boom.  The BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China are going through an unparalleled monetary upward swing.  The buying power of the so-called middle-class is rising exponentially.  Such amassing of wealth has given rise to a heightening in the Id personality.  And how is the Id gratified?  On a base level, by an acquisition of Brand products.

On one of my recent visits to India, I was amazed to see the power of the Brands on the psyche of the masses.  The worth of a person is judged according to the Brands he or she is wearing.  For example the Brand of purse she is carrying or the wallet he is whipping out.  There is plenty of disposable income and the Brands are happily obliging by rushing to satiate the deep hunger of masses with increasingly deep pockets.

There is most likely minimal to zero knowledge regarding the rich history, the origin, the culture or the value of the Brand, but there is definite knowledge of the power the Brand wields in society.  Such consumer may mis-pronounce an elite Brand such as Hermes and de-value it by rhyming it with a viral genital disease, (you know what I mean) but hey everyone recognizes the giant lock on the bag which will lead to the unanimous verdict of having arrived, thereby satisfying the Id.

Such consumers use their Brand possessions strategically.  The monogrammed Brands usually “come-out” during group gatherings such as parties, swanky club get-togethers, ladies lunches etc.  The Brands are not used for solitary occasions.  I mean, why use a Brand when nobody can see it. 

This makes me wonder.  Was the Brand purchased solely for display?  Is the value of the Brand solely to exhibit ones status in society?  Does the Brand have absolutely no worth to the user as an individual?

If such is the case, in my opinion the Brand is de-valued.

The symbols are meant for enjoyment-the LV, the H, the two G’s, the two C’s, the EA.  They most certainly satisfy the Id.  But let’s move to a higher level of Ego and leave behind the superficiality of merely the possessory and display value of the alphabets.  How about exploring the history and origin of the alphabets.  Learn how a poor cobbler in the remote village of France started the business, one hide at a time, hand stitching each bag to the point of utmost perfection.  How an empire was built from a mom and pop owned family business.  Learn the vision of the brand, its culture, its ethics. 

Use it for your own enjoyment and think of its rich history while carrying it to the supermarket where you don’t expect to meet any one from your social circle. 

Then you will truly derive “added-value” from your Brand possession.  You will satisfy not just the Id but the Ego.

  • Very interesting points and I think that you are coming from a place of knowledge and history.
    It’s quite sad when you talk to some people that wear brands and have no idea where the clothes, the designer or the designer house come from.
    A few years back i complimented a fellow worker on her Yayoi Kusama- Marc Jacbos’ inspired purse she look at me like I was insulting her by mentioning the fact that her purse was inspired by an old artist dots paintings.
    I also do not consider myself a designer follower. I love many designers and there are few I can afford. For this and many other reason I thrift and use some of the collection as inspirations and get a cheaper (at times very cheap) version.

  • They don’t call luxury brands for nothing Ambu. As the GFC still continuos in some counties people stil try to reach their own personality looking for expensive Italian labels.
    But one thing I can’t cope inside a luxury store are screaming babies and queu.
    Lee x

  • Albert:

    Sometimes it’s not the brand but how you wear it. I’ve seen older men of modest means who look really sharp, not for what they wear but how they wear it. And I’ve seen two women with the same luxury bag; one looks like she owns it, the other like she bought it. It has to come from inside.

  • You know the double-Gs make me happy! I loved this post…it’s nice to hear a positive spin on luxury brand appreciation!

  • I always love your perspective, Ambu, I love your mind. Such an interesting read! You are one of the few bloggers that I feel broaden my horizons. For that I am so grateful! Am sharing this post asap. Love you.

  • I think MOST people buy brands to display their value and worth. It is not for the love of fashion or history of it. Not many even educate. They might not even know whether it is from France or Italy! It doesn’t matter, right? As long as it shows the world that they make big bucks! :) P.S. Most of ‘such’ people only buy monograms! :)

    ♥ from © tanvii.com

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