Thursday, 15 March 2012

Why stuff matters and how we have it all wrong

I belong to a parents of multiples group (some members have triplets or more!) and as I have mentioned before, it has been overwhelmingly helpful, wonderful, inclusive, friend making, supportive, and a million other things.   There are monthly meetings for those in your area and those are the ones you tend to 'friend', run into at drop in centres or find yourself sending your kids to school together.  Generally speaking you mostly see, give and receive advice from these parents in your area. This year the group added a FaceBook page to the myriad of other things to help parents reach out, find answers to questions and support when things get tough.  This has also opened up the exposure we have to other parents in other neighbourhoods who we wouldn't generally meet.  In other words it has opened up more opportunities for me to put my foot in my mouth (and I haven't done yoga in years!)

Recently one mom posted that she was 'looking to buy some designer clothes' for her babies...she had found that the prices are higher in Canada and was asking if anyone knew of a cheaper way of obtaining designer baby wear.......now I am not mentioning this to pass judgement because that is not my intention (or job) but I bring it up because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I couldn't stop thinking about how foreign this concept is to me and how I can't even for a moment relate to why she would need or want these items (I actually snorted drink out my nose when I read her post thinking she was kidding). She was more specifically looking for Burberry so because I can't speak for her, I can only explain my side and my view on the notion of wanting designer wear for babies (she mentioned she needed 12-24 months) or for yourself for that matter.

  1. I completely understand the desire/want/need/love of all things beautifully designed.  Remember I was a design student when I found out I was pregnant, and I did some work (briefly) as a make up artist and stylist in my 20s (wha? You can't believe I am not in my 20s now?.....no this depth of cynicism takes years, decades even to gestate and nurture).  I love beautiful things too......this is not the same as loving designer things or a label.
  2. Needing to dress you or your children in 'labelled' items is not about design, beauty or quality.  It isn't even about you anymore....it is about what you want other people to THINK about you and you as a parent.  This goes deeper into physiological aspects than I intend to and goes into an area I am completely unqualified to comment on (who am I kidding!) 
  3. There is also the aspect of what this is teaching your kids? To pretend that this has little to no impact is disingenuous and untrue.  Kids learn more from your actions than from your words.  This is a pretty clear lesson that what you wear and how you look is what's important. (The part of this I can relate to is the judgement from others but in my 'circle' you would be judged for this purchase and would more likely be applauded for bragging about how little you spent to look great. I dress both my children for approx $500-$600 a YEAR and I brag about this.
  4. Being dressed by a label takes little or no creativity.  Not only are you following by being on 'trend' but you are letting the way you look, the way you are perceived by other people, your 'impression' on the world be told/sold to you by someone else.  It is no longer yours but someone elses impression.
  5. All Burberry clothing and many of their bags are made in China (as most high end designer stuff is) a small potion of their bags, belts, shoes are made in Italy, Spain, Turkey, France and Portugal.  This British company no longer manufacturers anything in the UK. These designers duds are being sewn by someone getting paid around $0.43 an hour.  Even though Burberry moved almost all their manufacturing to China in the last couple of years substantially lowering their manufacturing costs there has been no drop in the price for the consumer, hence greatly increasing their profits.  They can get away with this because they can charge whatever the market will bare. If you want/need this label, and are willing to spend $1695 for a diaper bag or $200 for cotton sweater for a 12 month old (prices taken directly from their website), they will happily charge you for it. (I personally think this is a human rights violation)
  6. You are choosing to purchase items that have to be shipped from China.  The environmental impact of making that ONE choice is huge.  Why is this ok?  There are perfectly good, beautifully designed, quality things made right here (even ridiculously over priced designer stuff) ! It is risking your children's future.
  7. A child in that age range grows out of things within 3 months.
  8. Let me continue using the $200 cotton sweater as an example.  For $200 you can have a cotton sweater that will fit your child for maybe one season, 3 months (I would like to use the $265 rain cape as an example but it is just so ridiculous I actually get physically mad) With that same $200 you could buy an equal quality cotton sweater at Joe Fresh (although also manufactured in Asia but in unionized factories) for approx $16**, leaving you with $184.  With this $184 you could plant 5 trees (through Evergreen) that will last for generations.  Or with $184 you could feed,educate, supply fresh water to, provide medical attention AND clothe ANOTHER child for almost 5 months (based on $38 a month for Christian Childrens fund) BUT instead the choice is one sweater - with the right label - Burberry - I couldn't live with myself
**example could be even cheaper if purchased at a used clothing store, a clothing swap or on sale.


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