These tough days, it’s fashionable hating the rich. Except in fashion ads.

September 13, 2012

“Hey, Biff. Have you seen any poor people?”

Living in San Francisco, I’ve had to watch my politics more than in Chicago. Nothing major, mind you, but I am a bit more careful dishing out vulgar asides, gritty observations and being a smartass in general. This is after all the epicenter of political correctness. When every other person is a Prius driving vegetarian one has to watch where one blows his cigar smoke. Funny this, given SF was once a bawdy, corrupt hellhole. Can you say Barbary Coast?

Being an election year adds to the sensitivities. Chicago was Democratic. Here the Blue Donkey is a religion. For what it’s worth I’ve never identified with a political party. They both frustrate me, especially now. Frankly, I could do twenty minutes on both.

However, that is not the point of this post. What I’d like to talk about is the continuing animus levied at the rich, the so-called 1%. Even though the Occupy Movement petered out some time ago, a deep-seated resentment toward the well off lingers, in particular when it comes to the trappings of success, i.e. fancy shit. These days, even the filthy rich are self conscious about it. More than ever, status symbols symbolize greed. A middle-class guy at my office told me he could never drive a BMW in San Francisco because of the derision it would evoke. Really? I see plenty. But his point is well taken.

Among other things, I wonder how all this zeitgeist bending is changing (or not) the business of advertising. How does one sell luxury cars to people who are afraid to be seen in them? Some brands try to redefine the “new luxury” as being about the pragmatism of buying well made but necessarily expensive things.

Walking in the other gal’s shoes…

A large group that doesn’t give a shit (and never has) about coming off as elitist is the vainglorious world of fashion. Ralph Lauren is rich, white and proud of it. Same with most of the other “houses of couture.” It’s like they get a pass on being socially aware. Even poor people expect Gucci to be Gucci. And love them for it. I find that interesting, if not downright odd. Don’t you?

Fair to point out a few popular fashion brands at least riff on social issues. Such as Kenneth Cole and United Colors of Beneton. Yet, I wonder if even these brands are merely playing fast and loose with edgy politics to look cool and concerned.

The hippest family evuh!

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3 Responses to “These tough days, it’s fashionable hating the rich. Except in fashion ads.”

  1. Might I suggest that the reason disdain toward the rich has become fashionable is that there is a HUGE income gap which has risen up in the last 30 decades to bite us in the ass? The Occupy movement, by the way, hasn’t disappeared. There is a large network of grassroots organizations emerging; just because people aren’t holding up placards and chanting slogans doesn’t mean the movement hasn’t… moved on to bigger and better things. I also find it interesting that you refer to the wealthy as the “so-called 1%”. What would YOU call it, then? Are you suggesting it’s a myth? Your analysis of this hypocritical trend in advertising is appreciated, though. Interesting post.

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