I’ve been a little busy lately building a bed, a wall of bookcases, two bunny rabbits and “repurposing” an oak headboard, so I haven’t been as dedicated to writing my daily blog, weekends removed. So I thought I would update a story that I wrote in 2008. Hardly anyone was reading my “other” blog back then, so most of you probably haven’t read this story. Spoiler Alert: The piece isn’t about Sarah Palin…but it does mention her glasses.
I’ve been having a standing argument with my kids for a good part of 30 years now about the inflated value of name-brand merchandise. My argument has always been that you pay $5 a letter for name-brand shoes, purses, jeans, etc., when a knock-off or lesser brand is probably just as good, often made in the same factory, and lasts just as long.
“Not true,” I was told by my son once. “Nike shoes last longer than Addidas Shoes.”
Funny, since I tell him that they’re both made at the same plant in East Asia. He doesn’t believe that. He thinks Nike’s are made in Beaverton Oregon. Nike isn’t even incorporated in Oregon, they’re incorporated in Washington State. He was 16 at the time.
I had a pair of Converse shoes that I wore almost every day, for four years, and they were still as good as any Nike’s I’ve owned. They’re still in my closet. I don’t wear them anymore, but they’re still in my closet. I paid $19.95 for them. I learned that Converse was bought out by Nike in 2003 for $305 Million, so now Converse is really Nike anyway. And, although I’ve owned Nike shoes, I’ve never paid the exorbitant price for a new pair, I always got them on sale, like 75% off. How can they sell shoes for 25% of their original retail value? Because they cater to the tastes of the shoe buyer, and last year’s model won’t sell for full price. They have shoes for tennis, basketball, running, low impact aerobics, probably have special Zumba shoes now, you name it. And the style has to be “in.” Kids at school will laugh at you if you have last year’s Nike’s on. So when the style is “out”, as they say, “…so last year,” then the shoes are priced more in line with their actual cost. Nike has admitted in the past that their direct labor cost to produce a shoe is around $3.50. Are Nike’s still the “in” shoe, or are they so last century?
When I was growing up, there were only two kinds of “tennis” shoes, Converse and Keds. We wanted Keds because we could “run faster and jump farther,” and not just because we saw that on TV. We tested it. We wore Converse for basketball and wrestling. The same canvas shoe that everyone wore, purchased at Ritz Sporting Goods.
Right now I’m wearing a pair of Sketchers. My theory would tell you that they cost $5 X 9 or $45.00 more compared to a no-name pair of running shoes, but that argument started in the 1990s so using a cost adjustment it would now be $8.71 X 9 = $78.39 in comparison to a $19.95 Walmart version. The problem is I’ve discovered that Sketchers are the only shoes I can wear anymore that have enough arch support and don’t lead to a serious back ache, so I’m stuck buying the “name brand” shoe. I still look for the sales, and Sketcher stores always have a buy one get one at half-price at some time during the year. What a scam those sales are. Now they have those “ShapeUps” that everybody swears by. I’ve heard it’s not very fun if you have a “blowout” in your “ShapeUps” though. You kind of walk sideways, and only build muscle in one leg. Sketchers sell for around $70.00 and up.
Someone tell me who in the hell is Dooney and how did he meet Bourke, and why does every woman in America want their handbags? I found out that Peter Dooney and Federic Bourke launched their company in 1975 in South Norwalk CT. They started out making belts and suspenders. Then they came up with their All Weather Leather bags made from, yes, cow stomachs. Dooney and Bourke are very expensive designer bags, which is why knock-offs of D&B are so popular. When was the last time you asked a woman if her hand bag, emblazoned with those initials, was really a $195 Dooney and Bourke? Next time you see some woman shouldering a D&B ask her if she knows that they make them out of cow stomachs.
Coach is another auspicious entry into the purse business. Coach Leather was established in 1941 though. One of my co-workers has a “Coach” but it’s really not, it was made in Korea and is a knock-off. I asked her if anyone has ever noticed that she had the fake, and she said that most everyone says “Look at you girl, a Coach.” I couldn’t tell a Coach from a WalMart.
Coach has a hallmark clasp, a silver toggle, that Bonnie Cashin came up with from the latch on her convertible sports car roof. Let’s see what these go for…..Anywhere from $348 to $1,000 on their website, and frankly the purses all look the same to me except they’re different colors. I’m still not paying $1,000 for a purse. I hope my wife doesn’t either.
One of my favorite stories about the designer label culture, is when my son bought himself a Rolex from a “rich” guy at the golf course where he worked after school and on weekends. He paid $50 for this Rolex and he was ecstatic about his purchase. He had, what I termed, a “watch fetish” at the time. He spent any money he earned on Gucci watches. If anything stands out though, it’s a Rolex. Fifty bucks seemed like a good deal even to me, or a very “hot” to the touch item. So I asked to see it. He reluctantly let me touch it.
“Nice watch,” I said, “You got a real deal here too, because it has an extra ‘l’.”
His “Rollex” probably got more ah’s and oh’s than questions about the extra “l” anyway. I had the watch, for a time, in a jewelry case, and I used to chuckle every time I saw it. How I got the watch, I can’t remember, and I’m sure it’s still here somewhere needing a battery.
During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, we had a fashion-crazed public wanting a pair of the Kawasaki’s perched on Sarah Palin’s nose. I heard that the company had sold more of the frames in the month Sarah Palin was named as the running mate for John McCain, than they did in all the prior year. “Frames” is kind of a misnomer because they are “frame-less” glasses. You would think, logically, that would make them cheaper, but no, they retail upwards of $700.
Kawasaki, who also had a hand in designing an artificial heart (don’t see the connection), was quoted as saying back then, that he hoped we Americans voted for Palin for her accomplishments and qualifications and not her fashion sense. He’s not the motorcycle guy, by the way, but he might be related.
I want to confess that I wore a pair of designer “frame-less” glasses for four years. Made by “Marchon,” they were the “Airlock2” model. The most expensive frames in the optometrist’s office, I was told, which figured, but I had good insurance at the time, and they paid for them. Still, they were FRAME-LESS, so how could they cost more than frames that actually are made of something, like titanium? And how do you design a frame that really isn’t there, anyway?
My current frames aren’t Kawasaki’s either, they’re Aristar’s. I don’t know if that’s a name-brand or not. I didn’t have the same insurance as I did when I got the Marchon’s, and these glasses actually have frames, although they’re designed to make them appear frame-less. Doesn’t really matter anyway. No one has ever said, “I love your glasses. Are those Kawasaki’s? Were did you get them?” I figure they don’t make me look too much like a buffoon, have a little fashion sense because I didn’t pick them out, and I can see fine with them, invisible tri-focal lenses and all. WTF
(Palin photo, October 16, 2008, courtesy Wikipedia Commons, by Therealbs2002.)