On Tuesday, I needed to return something to Target. While I was there, I decided to check out their latest designer collaboration. These designer collections, the most recent of which is Prabal Gurung, receive a lot of hype and often sell out within days of their release. In fact, I half expected to see nothing left of this latest collection, as it was released on Sunday.
I knew I couldn’t buy anything, as I had already made my February clothing and accessory purchases, but I was curious as to the look and quality of the new collection. I had seen quite a bit of buzz about these items on Facebook, with various stylists and style aficionados touting their “scores” from the coveted line. I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.
“Ho-Hum” and Not Worth the Fuss
When I reached the Prabal Gurung display, I was surprised that a wide assortment of garments and accessories was still available, although the size selection was a bit sparse. I perused the offerings and my overall impression was “ho-hum” at best. I’ve seen Prabal Gurung’s garments on celebrities and the Target offerings couldn’t hold a candle to the real thing in terms of fabric quality, design, and construction. In my humble opinion, the Target pieces looked cheap and flimsy and not even worth their relatively low prices.
I felt absolutely no temptation to buy and walked away without the slightest hesitation. The same thing was true with the Neiman Marcus – Target designer collaboration around the holidays. Nothing wowed me, and judging from the poor sales of that line, many other shoppers agreed with me.
A Confession – I’ve Drunk the Kool-Aid…
I have to confess that I’ve made purchases from the Target designer collections in the past. I fell for the hype of the Jason Wu line and bought a number of pieces online (after all, Michelle Obama wears his garments – the real designer pieces – with the utmost of style and sophistication). However, I was dissatisfied with the quality and fit when I received my purchases. I kept only two tops, both of which required alterations and were worn only once or twice before hitting my donation bag. The thin, flimsy cotton was fussy and didn’t wear well. While the designs were cute (I loved the adorable cat t-shirt), the quality was sub-standard and a definite disappointment.
The Cachet of Designer Items
As I examine my purchasing habits, I am learning more and more about why I shop and the emotional issues which contribute to my compulsive shopping. Although I can only speak for myself, I feel I have some degree of understanding as to the popularity of designer collections at Target and other low-cost retailers (Kohl’s, JC Penney, and H&M, to name a few). In the past, only the very wealthy could afford designer clothing, so its wearing conveyed a sense of cachet. Those who toted a signature handbag or wore a high-end pair of shades were privileged, and the rest of us could only sigh and wish to someday be able to afford such special items.
The recent designer collaborations are the fashion industry’s attempt to filter the high-end prestige to the masses, so that we can all feel special in what we wear. In many respects, these efforts have been successful. After all, the Missoni for Target collection sold out on the day of its release. I still see women wearing these garments a few years later. But that’s the thing… I can tell they are wearing Missoni for Target, not the high-end Missoni garments. The difference in quality is readily apparent to even a relatively untrained eye (I don’t profess to be a designer expert by any means).
The Seinfeld Connection
Buying a low-end designer garment makes me think of George Costanza from “Seinfeld” (my favorite show, so it comes to mind a lot…). He wanted to pretend he was an architect, but he didn’t really want to be an architect. He wanted the cachet of the profession without having to actually study architecture or spend the time required to hone his craft. He just wanted to look successful and competent in the eyes of others.
I feel the same thing is true of those who buy the Target designer collaborations. They want others to think they are successful and special enough to buy and wear designer clothing. They like having the names Missoni, Jason Wu, Rodarte, Thakoon, Zac Posen, and the like emblazoned on their clothes, bags, and accessories, even though those items are generally sub-standard in quality.
I Don’t Live in a Glass House…
It may sound as if I’m looking down on people who buy low-end designer items. That would be hypocritical of me because not long ago, I was one of them, and I still care a lot (too much) about what others think of me. Although I have soured on the designer collaborations due to their low quality, I understand why people buy them, and I am still subject to the same thinking that goes into such decisions. I still want to look good to others and appear attractive, confident, and successful. In fact, much of my over-shopping was due to my desire to measure up and be good enough. It’s only been recently that I’ve begun to examine my motives and search for alternate ways of feeling good about myself.
Look Within for Self-Worth, Not Without
Self-confidence cannot be found in a designer bag or a pair of shoes with a red heel. Yes, even the “real thing” is not enough to bring about true inner worth and self-esteem. Such feelings of worth and value can only come from within, not from without. I do not profess to have all of the answers by any means. In large part, this blog is about my search for inner peace and happiness outside of the mall and an overstuffed closet, and my desire to inspire others to do the same.
I have a long way to go, but I am on my way. The fact that I can say “who cares?” about the latest low-priced designer items at Target is a definite step in the right direction. I don’t feel deprived because I don’t own anything designed by Prabal Gurung. I feel proud of myself for working toward my recovery and learning to be happy with what I have – and who I am. I hope to soon truly believe that I am enough without all of the stuff!