Tyra’s Label Mania

In class last week our group chose to take a more open discussion based approach to our presentation. In challenging the classes opinions on we revealed a certain influence branding has on society as whole. Though our presentations were chuck full of videos we didn’t get a chance to show you a Tyra clip that was pertinent to our conversations. Here a young woman professes her obsession with designer labels and her hate for the impersonations. Though this clip is not the full episode you still get an idea of what is going on:


We know that none of you are that extreme about designer labels, but one would have to question how could a brand evoke so much emotion? One thing we mentioned in our discussion was the power of a brand. In lecture Mimi brings forward a strong quote about power from the Zane “Reflections on a Yellow Eye” reading that is worth some revisiting:

 “power both inscribes and prescribes the body as it is inflected by the histories and dynamics of power relations, to reflect the positioning strategies of who sets the norm”

Seeing this video and reflecting on the other videos we showed in class (CNN cosmetic eye surgery, Sex in the City, Kanye West: It all Fall Down) is there a power in a brand and who can manipulate it? Should we challenge these manipulations and thus this power?

One thing I noticed in class was a stream of personal experience with brands and how these brands do have power in the industry: but no one seemed to be strongly against it…

Other Questions to consider:

How does the ownership of an authentic item change how you feel about yourself? Does it challenge your perceptions of others?

In what way do we define beauty for ourselves? v.s. How is beauty defined for us?


Video Sources

CNN cosmetic eye surgery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWOUyFOYR2E

Sex in the City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUVgcCB_SwA

Kanye West-It all Fall Down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kyWDhB_QeI


12 thoughts on “Tyra’s Label Mania

  1. As I was reflecting on the quote that you posted that says “ power both inscribes and prescribes the body as it is inflected by the histories and dynamics of power relations, to reflect the positioning strategies of who sets the norm,” it relates so much to the concept of brand names and the hysteria surrounding the items. Those people that are setting the norms in society typically are rich and elite; therefore, they are the same people that can afford copious amounts of these high-quality brand name clothes. They are determining how to wear these clothes and how the body should look while wearing these clothes, and the masses are left feeling pressured to also buy those clothes or buy an imitation of those clothes. The language used to describe the imitated brand name clothes have a negative connotation that apply to both the clothes and the person that buys them; therefore, creating this hyper- sensitivity. I cannot imagine that people mind being called fake, knock off, or copy-cat, which are all words that could be ascribed to the clothes that are not actually made by the original designer. However, interestingly, the real brand name clothes cannot be made accessible to the masses otherwise that takes away the appeal and allure of the clothes. This vicious cycle is far more political than the fashion culture lets on

  2. Oh gosh, a lot of good, loaded questions to unpack and I don’t think we can get to them all.
    I’m not a handbag connoisseur, but I feel that when people buy designer handbags, whether real or fake, they’re still ascribing to that societal hierarchy that’s placed on them by the elite, it’s just that the ones that buy knock-offs want it at a lower price point. I’m just more interested in the idea of people who put themselves into so much credit card debt in order to hold on to these class signifiers, when it doesn’t really add much to anything practical.
    On beauty; I don’t know if we can ever define “physical” beauty on our terms, as we’re all bombarded with Western influences of beauty. It’s in our magazines our novels our television screens – and most of us try to ascribe to those norms one way or another, especially in terms of gender. I just don’t understand why someone would call an Asian woman getting double-eyelid surgery as “oppressed” or “trying to be white,” while people seemed to pay no mind – and even praised – when Jennifer Hudson was on that calorie counter diet, or when Lea Michelle lost weight for her role on Glee. I wouldn’t so we’re oppressed so much as we’re compressed into these certain roles, and some of us have to negotiate its terms so we can navigate ourselves through the world.

  3. I think the feeling one receives when owning an authentic hand bag or designer shoe varies with the owner. Some people may feel that ownership of that item makes them better, more important, or more fashionable than the next person. Some may like that it projects a certain financial status. And some might really be unconcerned with what the perception of owning that item may bring because they solely wanted the item for quality purposes instead of flashiness. When I purchased my first Louis Vuitton bag I was happy that I was able to save and treat myself to something I’d wanted for so long, and very content knowing that I wasn’t going to/didn’t need to purchase anymore bags or purses for a very long time. My mother for example, is a big fan of Cole Haan shoes, because of their quality not their name. When she buys these shoes she feels good knowing she has another pair of comfortable,yet stylish shoes she can wear for years to come. Again, I think the emotions that come through with these purchases depend on each person.

  4. I feel that language and discouse plays a major role in the ways fake labels are viewed. The word “fake” already has a negative connotation. Things that are not authentic are looked down upon in our society. There is an idea that you are trying to trick people by having a fake purse, shoes, or clothing. I think for the person who own the fake bag they are just trying to pass. This passing may involve th desire to be seen as wealthy, classy, and stylish. Although there are a number of political implication attached to designer products, it should be soley based on the personal preference of each individual.

  5. Altough designer bags do add to the prestige of the person wearing the bag, I wonder what does it say about them to other people? I was shocked at the video when the interviewee on the show said she burned down the jacket because it didn’t have a designer brand label on it. I think that this is just a matter of principle for this girl, and if this exact jacket had a label she wouldn’t of had reacted so negatively. Psychologically, I think that she doesn’t feel satisfied with herself without a designer outfit, which in my opinion could reflect to low self esteem or self worth that predisposed her to use designer labels as a way to prove herself to everyone and show that she is worth it.

  6. Ownership of authentic items make a statement to those around us about what we can afford and where we are in terms of our class status. Brand names give us the opportunity to see how we compare to others around us, with certain brands being more powerful than others and giving an easily read signifier to our class. For myself, I tend not to have many “authentic” items of clothing. My style of dress tends to be based in very general basics. I think I have subconsciously done this because I do not like the idea of being able to be read as a certain class. I have the desire to not be read as anything outside of the average in terms class, as being read as below the average is undesirable, but being read as too upper class and “bougie” is similarly undesirable. Spending $10 on knock-off Converse shoes versus $40 on the real thing might be read as “cheap,” while spending $100 on a knock-off Gucci purse versus $1000 on the real thing is more of a “deal.”

    What do these things say about our society? Why are we so class-conscious? I think this is especially interesting in light of events such as Occupy Wallstreet.

  7. I remember my when I received my first real designer item. My parents bought me a Coach purse for my sixteenth birthday (this is when Coach was THE bag to carry in high school). I was so excited, I actually cried a little. I look back now while in the middle of course, and realize why I was so excited. When I carried that bag, I felt “cooler” and more “in style” than those who didn’t have one (just being honest!). I believe designer labels do in fact give people an ego boost, like Tyra suggested in that clip. Having a designer labeled item makes one feel this way because it is expensive, the stores are only located in certain areas, therefore making the item appear exclusive.
    In relation to the question, should we challenge this power that labels seeming provide people, I think “fake” items do so. Fake purses, clothes, and accessories challenge the social hierarchy. For example, I own a real coach purse (it’s my only one), and I also own a few fake Versace items like sunglasses. When the fake Versace is paired with the real Coach purse, it could cause people to assume both are real, are fake, one of each. It starts to challenge the hierarchy of labels.
    Designer labels have such a stronghold over people, and in certain situations (like the girl on the Tyra show), it is obsessive! We all love great quality clothes, but that should be the emphasis, quality over label.

  8. First, let me say that the conversation we had in class on this topic was really great and could have gone on and on. I feel that many people that I have come across find the topic of name brands to be a very sensitive one because they do not want to be seen as one thing or another. I had mentioned that I worked and saved up to buy my own Marc Jacobs bag, however, why did I save up to buy a name-brand bag? I’ll be really honest, I pride myself in shopping in the sale section at stores and finding interesting pieces at the thrift store but there is a slight craving for something higher end, causing me to be a bit contradictory in my ways. As an obsessive reader of fashion blogs and having my own fusion blog of fashion/my life, I seem to create a lust for particular items that I may deem as ‘awesome’ and ‘must-have’ that I eye on these pages, some completely in my league that I can afford or alter to fit my style, others that could cause a serious dent in my wallet. I remember looking at a blog and seeing a pair of heels that seriously took my breath away, there they were…the Jeffrey Campbell Litas. They seemed so unusual and powerful and right up my alley. The price made me so hesitant and I didn’t buy them for two months until I caved in and was able to afford it. When I got them it felt like a bit of a high, I know it sounds so silly and funny but I was so happy. Why don’t I get the same feeling when I buy a pair of shoes from Forever21? I felt a bit closer to the bloggers, as if I could relate to the glory that was the Jeffrey Campbell brand. That is as close to replicating a brand purchase with no true necessity for me as I’ll let it get. Sure, it’s nice to look at materialistic things but I would never put myself into financial debt (in a more radical thought). I do agree with the first commentator that there is a pressure that one feels and I have felt it and still feel it from time to time, I feel that it’s only natural because society has made it just that. Especially as an Advertising major, I’ve learned it’s all about the story these brands are trying to tell the audience. We’re buying the label before we’re buying the product. People buy things for so many reasons and I feel that one should be what makes you happy. It’s easy to fall into wanting to buy name brand things and I cannot blame anyone for it just like I cannot blame anyone for buying a fake item. I just feel that we like to organize people into groups that are readily identifiable and brands/labels allow us to do this so much more fluidly. As a sidenote: that lady on the Tyra show is so blinded by ‘real’ that she took such extreme measures to abolish the ‘fake’…that jacket could have kept someone really warm or she could have let the poor guy return it and get his money back.

  9. While watching the video clip of the girl showing off her designer clothing and purchasers, I was thinking, none of this looks good to me at all. I feel that if someone was to buy designers clothing , they automatically have a certain sense of style and aesthetic that draws them to a brand and the added perk of that attraction is that the quality of the clothing or items they buy are superub. But then I realized, that I was reflecting my thoughts and opinions on this person and not opening my eyes to the various reasons why individuals purchase things solely with brand names. I must admit, when I purchase things with a well know name (usually at impeccable discounts ) it makes me happy that I have a piece of that persons designs or creativity in my closet. But I can see how that can turn to simple adoration to obessions. And its shocking to me, as someone previously mentioned, when individuals are in extreme debt because of their longing for material goods for one reason or another. I believe it says something negative about out world and also that beauty or the lust for beautiful things is an overwhelming factoid in the lives of many if not all individuals. Because to a certain extent, most people want items or want to posses things that will elevate their social standings. Whether fake or not.

  10. Beauty is defined in many ways by what the media and fashion industry tells us is beautiful. For example, we learned in our discussion about designer labels, that many people feel fashion merchandise has worth if it is the “real thing” and is from their favorite designers. The woman that we watched in one of the videos in class was talking about how she is homeless but still finds ways to afford her favorite brands. I think the story of this woman, although it is obviously extreme and unusual, show the real problem with the beauty industry and designers. The industry tells us that the real thing makes you beautiful, and that you need to have designer labels to be fashionable. In other words, you need money to be fashionable. I am so thankful that the fashion industry trickles down to the public in less expensive, and often time knockoff versions of the real thing. Fashion is something that everyone should be able to enjoy. And although there is some sort of a natural hierarchy to the fashion industry, I dont think that you should have to pay a ridiculous amount of money just for a label.

  11. As it has been stated in a number of previous posts, I also believe the desire for brand name items to be encouraged by the detrimental aspiration to achieve the societal standards set by the wealthy upper class. Other than purported quality or practical advantages, the inability to purchase these often arbitrarily expensive brand name items in and of itself fuels people’s aspirations to obtain them; a construct perhaps best defined by the platitude, ‘you want what you can’t have.’ The Zane quote utilized in the blog post provides a perfect description in which to place the aforementioned system as it is the wealthy upper class who, given the money and consequent power they possess, have the ability to ‘set the norm’ as Zane describes.

    I can personally attest to the powerful influence of brand name items as I too own many brand name items and have rarely purchased anything generic. Though I believe the impetus of many of my brand name purchases were due to the superior quality and practicality that the products possessed, some of these purchases were motivated solely by being able to claim ownership of a particular brand. I believe the later pride of ownership desire should be challenged and disestablished if possible, as it attributes the power of influence to an artificial ideal that should not command desire at all.

  12. True confessions: my super glittery shoes with the pink velvet trim are blatant Miu Miu knockoffs. One of my friends gave them to me for Christmas, and they’ve attracted all sorts of compliments from males and females alike (usually only girls comment on my shoes). I like how attention getting they are, and how challenging the height of the heels is. But whenever someone who I know knows a thing or two about fashion comments on them, I feel the need to tell them that they’re knockoffs. It’s not for their benefit. I think it’s more that I want to prove my own knowledge, or not seem like I got unknowingly suckered into buying them. It’s like learning a language. On the one hand, I’d never spend $900 on a single pair of shoes, but if they were given to me, I would be pretty excited about it. Has anyone else had that experience while knowingly wearing a knockoff?

    For comparison:

    the knockoffs: http://www.charlotterusse.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12340510&cp=4238904.11210449.11804687

    the originals: http://womensrainbowsandals.com/search/x0vvu-miu-miu-glitter-suede-bootie

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: