Well, this is a first for me. You don’t usually see me holding forth on fashion; I leave that to the Shop Tart and other respected experts. But I couldn’t resist making this observation (OK, really, I couldn’t resist writing the Ferris-alluding headline).
This was on the front of a section of my Wall Street Journal this morning:
Who Buys These Clothes? They Do
A Peek Inside the Closets of Shoppers Who Pay Full Price for Designers’ Latest Runway Looks
After Ana Pettus, a 42-year-old mother who lives in Dallas, watched a gold minidress with a plunging, fringed V-neck go down the runway at the Balmain show in Paris last year, she knew she had to have it.
She bought the piece—she wears it as a tunic instead of a dress—along with three others from the fall 2010 collection at the Paris boutique of the luxury French fashion house. Price tag: €55,150, or about $74,000.
The Balmain pieces now hang in one of Ms. Pettus’s four closets, joining styles from Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as a $50,000 voluminous black-and-white gown with a giant picture of Marilyn Monroe on the skirt by Dolce & Gabbana. “I buy what I love,” says Ms. Pettus, who is married to the owner of a construction business. “They are beautiful pieces. They’re not mass-produced. You pay for that.”…
But then, I realized that what it was really saying was, these women actually pay full price to wear these clothes, straight from the designer.
And I thought, “How can anybody waste money like that?”
It puzzles me greatly. Maybe it’s because I’m not the kind of person who would ever become rich in the first place, but I’ve always thought, even if I were a billionaire, I would be reluctant to just waste large amounts of money.
OK, I might be tempted to buy one of those choice little Lexus sports cars, or a vintage Corvette. But I wouldn’t even think about a Maserati or a Lamborghini. I mean, it would just be wasting money, spending far more than any practical use I would get out of the thing could possibly be worth.
And even with the Lexus or the ‘vette, I know I’d feel considerable guilt before, during, and after the sale. Because I would be so conscious of how much more good that money would do, I don’t know, building a Habitat house, or inoculating several thousand kids against a deadly disease, or providing earthquake relief somewhere.
And in that story in the WSJ, well… it’s just a frickin’ DRESS; it’s not like it’s anything cool. It won’t go fast or anything. Spill coffee on it, and it’s ruined. What insanity! And what possible difference could it make that it’s unique? Does it clothe one’s nakedness more than something from Steinmart? No. Are the materials stronger, more stain-resistant, warmer, softer? No! The only difference is a completely meaningless intangible.
As I’ve said before, if I had great wealth, I would buy a newspaper, and run it right (which would be a novelty in that industry), and explore ways to make journalism pay in the 21st century. Maybe that sounds exorbitant, but hey, I think I could pick one up at a pretty good price these days (a small fraction of what I thought it would have cost when I wrote this)…