I should probably start by acknowledging that I am a clothing snob.
There are certain things that are beneath me, that I wouldn’t be seen in, thank you.
I wasn’t always one but over the last few years I have seen the onset of undeniable shoe snobbery. Shoes that I celebrated only a few years ago are being ruthlessly culled.
However, what I am not, in any appreciable way, is a brand snob. Apart from the matter of toothpaste, that is. If it’s not Colgate I’m not interested. But I digress…
In simple terms, I’m not massively interested in who makes my clothing. What I am most interested in is that I like them, that they fit me well and comfortably, and that they feel to me like decent quality items.
So it really doesn’t matter to me a great deal whether my shoes are made by Crockett & Jones or by Sainsbury’s, my polos made by Ralph Lauren or by Matalan, or suits are from Savile Row or M&S. Indeed, I get a certain amount of pleasure when I find a fantastic item that may have cost me less than a snip but everybody I encounter assumes it is far more expensive than it is. Because it looks and feels great.
Having said all this I don’t want to suggest that brands are irrelevant. They are not. Brands are one way of differentiating between different and competing goods. They are not, of course, the only way.
Some brands simply appeal to us because they meet our particular needs or because we have grown with them. You know what to expect and you know they will fit into your life. For example, I love Jaguar cars in part because I grew up admiring them. It’s no longer fully rational, if ever it was.
I think Colgate toothpaste is the only brand worth buying. I grew up with it. I am so brainwashed that I don’t think my mouth feels properly cleaned when I use alternatives. When my wife dares to buy an alternative brand I go out and get my own Colgate supply… And let’s not even begin to talk about technology made by Apple…
So let’s just admit from the onset that there are some brands that we believe in and trust. They are our default setting.
However, that’s not quite the same things as being a brand snob, particularly in the area of clothing. For me a brand snob is one who assumes that good quality clothing is only possible from a small list of named designesr and who is as interested, if not more so, in the label on their clothing as they are about style.
So why am I not a brand snob? Here are my top 5 reasons:
- The difference between branded and non-branded is often more to do with market positioning than quality.
- I can’t always tell the difference; and if I can’t when I’m the one wearing it, then I’m pretty sure no one else can either. If I removed the logo from a polo shirt by Ralph Lauren or Gant would it be significantly different from one of the nicer polo shirts in Matalan? Not sure.
- Where I can tell the difference, I’m not always persuaded of the value to me. So a pair of shoes by Crockett & Jones may be twice the price of a broadly similar looking pair from Charles Tyrwhitt. Do I think that the C&J shoe is twice as good? Actually, I probably do…. Bad example. However, whilst a pair of Church’s are definitely better than a pair of Loake’s I’m not sure I value that difference sufficiently to spend an extra £200.
- I’m basically a cheapskate. I love a deal, a discount. I like the idea that I’ve found a way to get 80% of the benefit for 20% of the price. The best way to do that is to have a broad approach to style. Plus I reject the idea that style is the preserve of the branded.
- I can’t afford it. I am a man of modest means after all. I can barely afford my clothing addiction as it is. The last thing I need is to become a brand snob who only buys certain brands of clothing. I’d be even more impoverished than normal!