*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be an insult to anyone- it is merely my personal experience and feelings towards our label loving world.
When I was 18, my dad took me to the Louis Vuitton store in Vancouver and told me to “pick one.” Naturally, I gravitated toward the classic Speedy 30, a bag big enough for my everyday life as a student, but not so trendy that I’d get sick of it a month later. Back when I was 18, I was the only girl I knew who had a bag like this, I certainly wasn’t the norm, and I was most definitely envied.
My love of labels started when I was about 15 or 16. I began to recognized the Coach C’s, the Prada Triangle, and of course the notorious LV’s. And I wanted them all. My parents, never ones to deny me pretty much anything (I was definitely an only spoiled child), indulged my love of labels. I graduated high school wearing $200 shoes and a Tiffany necklace.
At the time, I was the exception. A girl from a non-wealthy family who merely had a love of fashion and indulgent parents. But now? It seems like it’s the norm. I had a 12 year old in Montana tell me she loved my Louis, I’ve seen tweens swoon over Manolo Blahniks, and everyday I see women struggling to pay their rent with children in tow and a designer bag on their arm.
So when did this become the norm? When did we decide that the labels on our bags were more important than the knowledge in our heads? And what are the consequences of this?
It’s okay to like nice things. We all want to feel beautiful, and stylish, and chic, but when did we equate this with spending a months rent on a handbag. What is it about these bags that makes us feel so….privileged?
For me, the privilege came from insecurity. When I was first discovering labels, I used them as a way to feel special or important, or better than the other girls around me. I was desperately insecure with who I was and used designer “things” to compensate. And while I’m not pretending for a second that I’m still not faced with insecurity daily (I’m 26 living in New York, insecurity is part of the deal), I no longer feel the need to carry the newest “it” bag or wear this weeks trends to cover that up.
Over the years, I’ve begun to focus on who I am, what knowledge I have, and what I can lend to the world. I’ve started to realize that my love of luxury, while still very much there, can be translated to the amazing new foods I’m lucky enough to try, the traveling I’m desperate to do, and the museums I visit. That’s not to say that my Louis Vuitton will go untouched, it just means that instead of carrying it on the subway hoping that nobody will scuff or scratch it, that I save it for special occasions, those luxurious times where the beauty of a bag will be fully appreciated, where it makes sense, where I don’t feel the need to impress those around me with my spending ability.
Luxury seems to lose it’s luster if it’s constantly in your face and lately, more than ever, I’ve been disenchanted with the world of designer labels. Maybe it’s being in a city where you can’t walk 10 feet without seeing a (real or fake) Louis Vuitton or Gucci bag. Maybe it’s that I realize that the cost of one of these handbags is easily one months rent, or a plane ticket to Europe. Or maybe I’m just a bit over it all. Either way, I know that my worth doesn’t reside in the cost of my handbag, and that I’m more satisfied with what’s in my head than what’s on my arm.