Dedicated follower of fashion
Recently, I visited my daughter and grandson in their Cheshire home-not too far away from the residences of certain lavishly rich footballers, but on nothing like the same grandiose scale. When visiting them, I like to go to the local multi-store shopping complex: itself the size of small town, and then I go into the shop that sells Mark’s and Spencer’s clothing and gear. Half an hour later, pushing an excitable baby in a pushchair, we emerge with a good quality T shirt (£6); a pair of black slacks (for everyday wear-£9) and two packs of 10 black socks (‘priests have the blackest socks in the world’-Father Ted. £10). A very satisfactory shopping experience done with, I loiter outside the shop to await my wife and daughter, who have been pursuing an equally impecunious shopping experience in the M&S for women at the other side of the complex. ‘What’s this? I ask myself, looking at the shop to whose window I have my back. ‘A designer clothes shop’ I answer myself. And there were all the designer labels: Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Lacoste-you name it, they had it, and there was a sale on too! So, for the second time that day, my grandson and I risk life, limb and wallet thickness in a clothes shop.I emerged, blinking, some two minutes later having realised that their idea of a ‘sale’ was to sell the exact same T shirt that I brought across the road for £6 for £40! The difference? A designer label. And this kind of price inflation was repeated for all the clothing-similar slacks to mine-£50! I seriously considered standing for a while and re-directing the poor unsuspecting fools to M&S, but my too often embarrassed (by me) wife and daughter prevented this from happening, and instead gently led my shocked self away explaining that that was what people did in Cheshire: it wasn’t the quality of the clothing that mattered, but that you could demonstrate by wearing ‘the label’ that you were a person of substance and had some money (to burn). Being a Yorkshireman, it took me quite a few days to recover and even now I have moments of withdrawal when I consider contacting the Ombudsman. It seemed to me to be the worse kind of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ and a sad indictment of a consumer mad society. Whatever happened to ‘consider the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor spin and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these’?
Recently, I read a charming little book entitled ‘The Return of the Economic Naturalist’ by Robert H Frank in which he questions, as an expert, some of our modern understandings of economics: the ‘trickle down theory’, the efficacy of lowering taxes etc. I leave you with a quote…
Social critics in the past have relied mainly on their own personal prejudices about how we might best spend our money. But a large body of scientific literature suggest our recent spending patterns have not served us well. Careful studies show, for example, that when everyone acquires bigger houses and more expensive automobiles, the new higher standards become the norm, with the result that these expenditures yield little satisfaction. Other evidence suggests, however, that the same resources could have been used in ways that bring permanent increases in health and happiness. The time required to earn the money to pay for larger houses, for instance, could be freed up for family and friends, exercise, or longer vacations. …we may call this ‘inconspicious consumption’. Those who spend more on inconspicious consumption are more likely to describe themselves as happy…less likely to seek psychological counselling…attempt suicide. And they are less likely to die or be ill in a any given year.
Where your treasure is there will your hearts be also?