8 years ago: The problem with Marshall’s

October 26, 2005, here on slacktivist: The problem with Marshall’s

Consider the Polo logo — the little horse-and-rider symbol proudly worn on the left breast of the prodigal. You can easily find a well-made Oxford shirt for $20 or less. You can get a bona fide, Made-in-America by union workers, Oxford shirt for around $45. Or you can spend way more than that for the same style and quality shirt, except with a little horsey guy on it.

Seeing someone wearing such a shirt was a clear signal that here was a fellow who, with $60 or so in his pocket, couldn’t think of anything better to do with that money than to “upgrade” to the shirt with the little horsey guy. “A fool and his money are soon parted,” the logo proclaimed. “And I am such a fool.”

This was a useful signal to the rest of us. It informed us that the wearer was not just selfish, but proudly so, and thus perhaps not due the usual deference paid to others as part of the give-and-take of human society. For those of a more entrepreneurial bent, the horsey guy also helped to distinguish an easy mark.

  • glendanowakowsk

    The first time I saw a guy wearing a Lacoste shirt (an expensive shirt with the status symbol being an alligator), I was a teenager and my first thought was, “Isn’t he a little old for Garanimals?”

  • The_L1985

    During high school, I used the presence or absence of a Tommy Hilfiger logo on people’s T-shirts as a strikingly-good measure of their intelligence.

    The same applies to Ed Hardy shirts. They are beautiful, but there is no fucking way that I’m spending hundreds of dollars on a T-shirt, when I can get equally cool ones for $20.

  • gpike

    : (

    We usually shop at Ross (though apparently we don’t have them out here???) because they had really cheap prices for DECENT clothes like button up shirts and stuff. We normally avoided the logos because they look stupid.

    Finding clothing is a nightmare for me because I’m “plus size” and prefer the functionality of men’s clothing even though most of it doesn’t fit perfectly so I have to alternate between scrounging for those rare short-waisted mens shirts and relaxed fit trousers or scouring the women’s clothes for anything that isn’t frilly, floral, pastel/neon or designed to show off boobs (and we all know there is no such thing as women’s trousers that actually have sufficient pockets lol).

    There is no such thing as unisex clothing, because marketing is so much more effective when you can “divide and conquer” by making people believe that they need specially gender-marked stuff for every little detail in their lives. And then you can further divide that into have and have-not categories using ugly logos and brand names…

    And that’s why everything is terrible.

  • SarahJane Gray

    I’ve been known to avoid certain brands even at Goodwill because I associate them with awful snobby people (I’m looking at you, Abercrombie!!!)

    But for the most part, I enjoy buying as much as possible secondhand, and not worrying what’s on the label. I’m grateful to be able to afford such nice things on my artist’s income, and grateful to the wealthier people out there who are willing to donate their things to make that possible. All in all it leaves a much better taste in my mouth than going to the mall and buying things new.

  • Dan Hetrick

    I dunno, I love Tommy Hilfiger shirts…but I’ve never bought one new. I always buy them at Goodwill or Value World (a resale shop we had in Michigan, dunno if they’re anyplace else). I don’t mind paying $5 for a really nice, comfortable, good looking shirt. $60? I don’t think so. I don’t have that kind of money.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    Once upon a time, a handbag collector who knows that I’m living below the poverty line expressed shock at the fact that I was carrying around a bag by [designer's name forgotten]. I was rather surprised at her reaction, since I thought of it as just a decent-looking purse I got for a good price at Marshall’s. The bag is looking battered and worn now, but I do have to give the company credit for the fact that the thing has remained intact after all these years and all my ill-treatment of it.

  • stardreamer42

    The original post asks why, given the choice between two functional, comfortable pieces of equivalent price, one would choose the brand-name item. I can tell you why I wear Gloria Vanderbilt jeans (from Goodwill) and look for that brand specifically: they fit my shape. There are a zillion different cuts of jeans, and most of them are cut for someone who isn’t me. GVs fit me well, and they usually have just enough spandex content for my taste. So I buy them by preference.

    Which bemuses me a bit, because I’ve never been a name-brand wearer until now.

  • MaryKaye

    I have fairly expensive running shoes because my feet hurt after races, and the guy at the sports shop said they would help–which they do.

    My teenager has fairly expensive running shoes because having expensive shoes, in itself, has value to him–he chose them mainly on that basis.

    You can’t tell just by looking at what someone wears why they wear it. (Note that I am not ragging on my teenager here–he functions in a very different environment than I do, and maybe knows what he needs to be doing in that environment. In which case, thank the gods I’m not there anymore.)

  • bad_cook

    Oh Ceiling Cat, fake pocketage on women’s clothes makes me feel so, so stabby. Or the pocket’s just roomy enough for a stick of gum. I scream “WHY???” at the skies, and the only answer seems to be “OMG, your thighs will look big” or “Purses! Of course ladies always carry purses, why do you need pockets? (Hand over $50, now, please).”

  • CharityB

    I’m not sure if it’s fair to say that someone in a store has a choice between “two functional, comfortable pieces of equivalent price” if one brand fits well and the other one doesn’t. To me “fit[ting] my shape” and being comfortable are what clothes are for — if they can’t do that, they’re by definition not functional to me.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One of the big reasons to prefer brand-names is reliability. I don’t mean that brand-name clothes are better per se, but if you find a particular brand that has a good fit or a quality build or pockets that are actually big enough to put your wallet in, you can generally count on that brand to continue to be that way for some time. With no-name products, you’ll sometimes find that the design and materials might vary from batch to batch; since they’re not trading on people specifically looking for them, they’ll be more prone to switching factories and suppliers frequently to optimize costs. I was greatly disappointed when the store-brand pants I’d loved for some time inexplicably changed into EZ-Shred No-Pockets.

  • stardreamer42

    That’s also a good point. OTOH, I was profoundly struck by a MAD Magazine cartoon back in the 70s — it showed a series of people wearing clothing with big brand-name logos, captioned, “I give free advertising to multi-million-dollar corporations.” Ever since seeing that, I can’t avoid thinking that way about logos and such. One of the things I like about the GVs is that the brand name is unobtrusive; it’s on the tag, but the only external indication is a small black-on-black embroidered logo on the 5th pocket, more noticeable by touch than by sight.

  • Amaryllis

    Good god, MAD Magazine was getting ideas from my father?

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    As a teenager, I was once given, free, a good quality black jumper with the word “Addidas” emblazoned in massive white letters across the chest. I used that jumper for tramping around the woods and getting muddy. I absolutely refused to wear it to town.

    My mother accused me on inverse snobbery. I just said I didn’t want to be a billboard.

    TRiG.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I remember somebody sketched a cartoon — “IZOD! DESTROYER OF THE WORLD!” — with a Kaiju knocking down Tokyo wearing one of those alligator shirts.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    All I can say is, if I pay extra for a shirt with “a little horsey” on it, said little horse had better be one of the following:
    1) Twilight Sparkle
    2) Rarity
    3) Fluttershy (yay…)
    4) Derpy Hooves
    5) Princess Celestia Solaria Invicta
    6) Princess Luna Selena Nocturne
    7) Nightmare Moon with a blank flank…

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I am willing to be a billboard, but only if I got free clothing out of the deal.


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