The "investment piece" is back, this time thanks to fashion designer Vivienne Westwood:
"Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes. I mean, I know I’m lucky, I can just take things and borrow them and I’m just okay, but I hate having too many clothes. And I think that poor people should be even more careful."One might imagine that those in the business of selling clothes would be in favor of people buying clothes, but that would be far too obvious. The appropriate marketing strategy for high-end is to denounce the meaningless acquisition of stuff, in favor of collecting, investing, or whichever other euphemism might be used to describe buying expensive things rather than cheap ones. The intended audience is, of course, the population capable of and interested in buying designer clothing. Rich and poor alike wear H&M; only the rich are going to be in Westwood's creations. So if your aim is to move high-end garb, one thing you can do is to frame that choice in moral terms. Save the planet! Buy one Hermès bag instead of ten or whatever at a bourgeois mall store like Coach!
But there's that other, pesky function as well, which is that the you're-a-good-person-if-you-shop-designer framing effectively amounts to, if you're poor or middle-class, you're a terrible person, because you almost by definition will have not properly sourced whatever it is you're wearing. And yes, there are such things as thrift stores, but there are also such things as underwear, socks, and t-shirts. As needing to look professional. Some stuff effectively needs to be purchased new and, if you don't want to stink (or to do laundry, with all its associated environmental impact - not to mention hassle - all the time), you may not want to "invest" in the one artisanal undershirt. This framing, then, flips around the more expected narrative, which is that if you're a rich person buying designer stuff, you're the one being decadent. It creates this imaginary world in which wealthy people who buy a couple really quality pieces don't also own like 300x the Old Navy-or-equivalent as do their fellow Westerners with less.
Westwood's gaffe, then, was in spelling out where "poor people" enter into this equation. The usual approach, the tasteful one, is to insist that the problem isn't poor people, but purchasers-of-cheap-things, and one may read between the lines.