How To Shop: Designer

Opening Ceremony in NY, via nymag

I remember the first time I bought a designer piece. I went to New York for the first time and bought an Alexander Wang t-shirt. It was a surreal feeling stepping in to Opening Ceremony and seeing for the first time items I've only seen in my computer screen. Like many others, I've assumed there was no way I would be able to afford that-thing-that-celebrity-is wearing-on-that-magazine. Ever. The truth is - like with most things in life - it is possible.

To help those contemplating about buying their first designer piece or for those who want to feel less guilty shelling a large amount of cash for designer goods, here's some tips:

1. Relax, Clothes Don't Bite

via well-spent

Stepping in to a boutique is an intimidating experience for most. Everything looks so expensive you're afraid to touch anything. But here's the way I look at it: these clothes cost much less to produce. I once went to an Alexander Wang sample sale (old season surplus for cheap) and bought pants that retailed for $400+  for, drum roll please, $60! Clothes are expensive because they pay for everything. From the elaborate runway shows to the sales associate greeting you, the clothes pay for everything. But please, try not to act like you're touching ancient artifact. It's just clothes.

2. Why Should I Buy It?

There are many things to consider when making a designer purchase. Here are two rules I go by:
Prada Spring 07 via trendhunter
Urban Outfitters a few years later via urbanoutfitters

You Can't Find It At The Shopping Mall
Designers have more creative freedom which results in designs that will never hit retail stores for the mere fact that it doesn't have mass appeal (yet). It has to be special/different in some way to warrant the price. If you can't say, 'I can find this elsewhere for cheaper' then it might be worth buying.

It's Better Made
Specialty companies like Doc Martens(shoes) and Barbour(jackets) do one thing and do it well. Their reputation precede them to make a quality product and people will pay good money for something reliable. Or supposed to anyway.

3. Ask Yourself This:
via canadianbusiness
Do I Love It?
When you're spending (investing?) this much on clothes it's not enough that you like it. If it's really expensive capital L.O.V.E. might be required. Unless you can afford this kind of infatuation.

Who Am I Wearing This For?
I strongly advise you only wear things because you love it and not anyone else or for societal purposes (DON'T BE A LABEL WHORE). 'Would I wear this if it wasn't designer?' is a good follow up question to this.

Even if you don't buy designer these are sound advice (I think) when shopping. It helps with practicing restraint and being a critical shopper. The happiness clothes can give you in store decrease significantly after a few days of owning it so it's important that it gives you an incredibly ecstatic feeling if you plan on wearing it more than a few times. For me, if I have to ask myself 'Should I buy it?' or any other questions, I don't get it.

4. How Do I Rationalize The Price?
via sustainablesartorial
 Cost Per Wear:
 If you're thinking of getting a designer bag, this is the logic to go with. Suppose the bag is $1000 and you wear it everyday for a year (1000/365) it'll cost you $2.74 a day to use it. Beyond that it will continue to last for years and have an even smaller cost per wear. In the same sense, buying something impulsively and wearing it only a few times isn't a smart purchase (e.g. $15 nail polish used three times will cost $5 per wear) .

Cost and Worth Are Two Different Things.
Cost is the price tag and worth is how you personally value something. For example, I'm a fan of Alexander Wang so his $80 tee are worth it to me. Inversely, I would not buy a Lacoste polo for the same price because I'm not sporty or even like polos so to me, it isn't worth it.

Sometimes, after going through all that, the price tags are still irrationally exorbitant. Stay tuned for tactics on how to tackle the always competitive designer sale season.

1 comment:

  1. Great post.
    Buying designer can be intimidating at first but eventually you get the hang of it. After all like you say it is just clothes. Though there are brands out there that aren't super expensive with great quality lets be real high end clothing is worth the investment.