Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mixed reaction

The BBC has an article on its website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5292860.stm?ls

and Blogger seems to have lost the rest of what I wrote here. Meh.

In any case, as follow-up comments to the post say, I didn't say what I wanted to say as clearly as I should have. My main point was that while I don't like brands, I'm concerned about the specific methodology proposed here - just burn everything branded. Why not give it away? And what next? Now that everything you had that was branded is gone, what do you propose to do to avoid it in future? The focus of this was on the bonfire, as it were, and not on the phoenix.

I noted at the end that even I, who am not terribly fond of the brandedness of modern life, am typing on a Dell computer with a SoftSpot wristrest, and several other branded items around me, including a mousepad from my employers. When I sew my clothes, it's on an old steel Singer (bought seriously used from a quilt supplies store that had no idea what to do with it since it's so obviously a product of the 60's - seafoam green and silver.) My knitting is done on needles from a variety of makers - old metal hand-me-down Boyles, beautiful wood ones from a manufacturer in the US, other wood ones from a woodworker I know who sells his stuff under the name "The Spanish Peacock", etc.

6 Comments:

Blogger Thee, Hannah! said...

. . . except that pretty much every single thing we use has a brand connected to it. Even if we make our own clothes, the fabric is probably Moda or Marcus Brothers or something, and the thread is Coats & Clark, and the machine is a Singer or a Brother or, in my case, a Nelco, which is a defunct off-brand but still a brand. Even off-brands or non-cachet brands are brands. My underwear is probably Fruit of the Loom or Hanes, which have no status--just cotton granny-panties--but still are brands. (Sorry, that was probably more than you wanted to know about what I'm wearing.)

I don't see any point in fighting brands because they're brands. I applaud his efforts to stop being a slave to the brand, but if you concentrate that hard on NOT buying brands, you're still controlled by your clothing. I have a favorite dark-blue wool skirt that I love not because it's Ralph Lauren but because it's warm, comfortable, and well-made (and it was $1 at the white elephant sale). I'd love it just the same if it were from Target or if I'd made it myself out of hand-spun dog hair. I didn't even know it was Ralph Lauren until I went to fix the button; I'd never even looked for a tag.

8/29/2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Oh, I totally agree. Even my pretty handspun wool from WV was marked with a brand name - it turns out just a pun on the artist's name who did the spinning, but still... And even in the tiny town on the edge of WV, you could see everywhere the attempts of the WV tourism council to tie into the "Almost Heaven" theme.

You've put it so much better than I did. Thank you.

8/29/2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hannah & Foolish,

I make my underwear and have puckishly thought about adding some sort of tag...Paula's Secret maybe. I do understand why one would want freedom from brands and I applaud the awareness of brand-tyranny. It wasn't that long ago when I was a suburban mom in a mini-van living the very typical branded life. (Yes, back then my underwear was the other secret.) It was madness - but I didn't know how deep the rabbit hole was until I was free.

It's late and I must be off to be bed. It's good to be back...

Paula

(The peace crane made it through the 2 moves quite nicely and will be displayed on our home altar. Thank you!)

8/30/2006 8:10 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Paula,
While I have never had a particular brand addiction - my favorite dresses are now and have seemingly always been homemade calico dresses - I can appreciate that others do, simply because I am surrounded by it. Even babies in my building have that "swoosh" on their shoes, and sometimes on their outfits.

And I can remember knowing in... 6th grade? that I couldn't be "popular" because I didn't wear the right kind of jeans. And I built up my little self-righteous prison, which I still haven't totally escaped from yet, of sneering at both the brands and my classmates.

Thank you for calling me on it.

What got me about the article was the burning aspect - I'm going to burn essentially everything I own to show that I'm free... and then what? If you buy another round of products by brand, you've only made the hold stronger, not weaker. If you decide to go downbrand, you're still deciding by brand... Or you can take up a whole new set of skills, which isn't easy.

I think what I object to most in the article is the waste - give the stuff away, or sell it or whatever, but I'd bet there's still years of wear left in most of it. Why turn it into pollution sooner rather than later?

8/31/2006 4:34 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

It might be pollution of the soul the writer is trying to avoid. You should have seen what I unloaded.

Hmmm...I'll write about it. ;)

8/31/2006 5:14 AM  
Blogger Thee, Hannah! said...

Oops--late in the game once again.

I don't choose for brand IMAGE. I've chosen by brand in cases where I find that some brands last better than others, or fit better, or whatever, but not for image.

My point is that even if you're trying to go non-brand, unless perhaps you grow, spin, weave, and dye your own wool and cotton, at some level, there is always a brand involved. I have a friend who makes her own undies out of superannuated T-shirts; the undies are non-brand but the shirts had a brand at some point. So, trying to avoid brands altogether strikes me as a waste of energy, if not an exercise in futility.

I'm all for NOT buying for brand image, but right now I need new sneakers and they're going to have to be some sort of brand, whether I like it or not.

9/08/2006 11:59 AM  

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