Does that clothing label really matter? It appears, we think it does.

We value our money and purchasing decisions are often made long and hard. Of course, we all make impulse buys, particularly for a bargain, but mostly we take time to consider.

The question is, how high do we value the brands we see on the high street or what our friends might think we’re wearing. Put on clothing from a particular brand and it reflects on how we portray ourselves to other people, right? After being told recently that “reputation is everything” (but, remember, you actually need to have a reputation to lose in the first place), does how we perceive our reputation to be based on the clothing we purchase, wear and let our friends see us wear?

With this in mind, Diesel decided to open their own knock-off store in New York and see the reaction to their products. Labelled as “Deisel” (note the subtle spelling), these were real-life Diesel clothing, the clothes you’d find in a regular store, with the same level of detailing, fabric and finish. Again, the only difference is the label and the price of the goods, which were deliberately reduced to knock-off prices. Customers were even told that they were real Diesel products but mislabelled.

See the reaction in the video below.

The interesting aspect to take from this is how much value we put on the label. It’s not just about the clothing, the design or where they are manufactured – people respond to the label first and their fear is the response they’d get if they were seen with a knock-off labelled product referenced as “Deisel”.

The unsurprising twist is now the news is out, the Deisel-branded products were real and actually limited-edition pieces from Diesel, they are generating demand with people queuing around the block to purchase from the store. A few weeks ago the same store was struggling to sell the same “knock-off” goods. These limited-edition Deisel products have now become ‘ultra-cool’ and, let’s face it, people think they can make a quick buck on eBay selling them due to the demand.

Surely a well-crafted, hand-made jumper from a tiny Italian store where the owner has mastered his trade his entire life, is actually a wiser investment?

What’s slightly sad here is this is one of the worst aspects of modern life. We care less about where our products are made, or who had to make them for us, or even whether the product looks unique, but do care whether the product has the brand everyone desires and how other people might perceive us if we aren’t wearing a relevant brand. And this brand has to be a mainstream consumer brand, too. Like everyone else wears, right?

Our demand is driven by what everyone else can buy, from just about any high street store, yet regard this as ‘cool’. Is this really cool? Surely a well-crafted, hand-made jumper from a tiny Italian store where the owner has mastered his trade his entire life, is actually a wiser investment? A true one-off piece which will stand the test of time. Sadly for most people, no, as it doesn’t have the well-known high street label, which is that all-important reason for wearing a product.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that some of the best products do not always come from mass-manufactured brands either. As an example, we regard the small US brand of  OGUY Apparel as a pioneer of men’s shorts and leading the pack, finding unique material to perfect their trade. Another company we admire, Prince & Bond, spent months travelling back and forth to their US factory, perfecting men’s swimwear, checking every detail, to offer the best possible swim short. It’s that attention to detail that shines through.

Of course, there are valid reasons for investing in branded products, but make sure you buy for the right reasons. Buy because the manufacturer uses top-quality fabric, or because the manufacturer believes in ethical sourcing. Invest as you know the manufacturer values their employees. These are the reasons you should put at the forefront of any purchasing decision, in addition to the quality and desire of the finished product. Spend time explaining reasons to friends. Educate. Try and define your definition of ‘cool’ and why it isn’t reflected by a mass-manufactured item which anyone can purchase.

Doesn’t this reflect on a wider aspect of modern life? Humans, by nature, spend so long trying to fit in, that they actually end up, somewhat ironically, getting left behind. The person who steps out from the crowd, stands up to be counted, dares to be unique, is actually the person who thinks different: yes, there was some valid reasoning behind the Apple strapline.

Humans, by nature, spend so long trying to fit in, that they actually end up, somewhat ironically, getting left behind

So, ask yourself: what do you really want? How do you want to be perceived as a person? What is this ‘ideal reputation’ we crave and is this reputation really just about being the same as everyone else – just what people expect you to be. Kids grow up being afraid that something different means our friends question our judgement or even perceive us as something we’re not. But, do you want to be defined by a label or should you stand out, be counted, be noticed and make a difference in this world? By your mid-30s, trust us on this, you’ll be wishing it’s the latter, so start early.

Diesel knew all of this but wanted to test people’s reaction to the same products, mislabelled. They succeeded.

The question is if you worry about your label, what kind of reputation are you really trying to build (or lose) and do other people really care? And a few years down the line, will anyone else care? We seriously doubt it.


About Author

The co-founder of Short Motivation, Chris originates from a technology background, initially developing software and then migrating to the international magazine industry for the last 15 years. The idea for Short Motivation came from travelling through 2011 and eventually became reality six years later, in 2017.