Label Whore

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you love style and fashion. Maybe you love dresses, especially? Or specifically Diane von Furstenburg dresses? Can you remember when you fell in love with those dresses? Do you recall what started you on the sometimes heartbreaking and often bank account breaking fashion road?

Here’s my story: I was raised in the racks of Loehmann’s (R.I.P.). This was back in the day – before we became spoiled with outlets and eBay. This was when Loehmann’s was the only (magical!) place you could buy designer clothes at a bit of a discount. Thousands of items hung squished together on enormous racks, but because it was so heavily discounted, the brands didn’t want their presence there known so designers made the store cut the tags out of their clothes. Imagine for a moment, walking into a store filled with both good stuff and garbage, and not having any obvious clues about what was Chanel and what was Anne Klein.

Of course, I was six so I just ran headfirst into enormous piles of sweaters and giggled. But for my mom – the most stylish woman I’ve ever met –shopping was therapy. I remember her carefully, methodically, going item by item, pulling out the occasional jacket to finger the fabric, inspect the seams and tailoring with a master’s hand. She’d squint her eyes and assess in a split-second whether something was dressing room-worthy.  An hour (and sometimes a trip to the tailor) later and she looked like she walked out of the pages of Vogue. That, my fashion friends, is some old school, gangsta shopping.

I’m reminded of these humble beginnings as I watch the craziness of New York, London, Milan and assorted fashion weeks and the amazing street style fashion captured on this site and other places. Would I be so crazy about some of these runway creations if I didn’t know they came from the workshops of Proenza Schouler or Alexander Wang? If this fanny pack didn’t have the golden interlocking cc’s wouldn’t it be the fashion equivalent of a polyester scrunchie? Have I become, in these days of constant runway coverage, a label whore?

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Raymond Hall/GC Images, Taylor Hill/Getty Images

There’s a difference, I think, between fashion week posers and people with authentic style. It’s the difference between a woman wearing the print of the season or a recognizable Marant sneaker and the young lady who transforms a white shirt into a work of art with a twist of the collar or a cuff pushed up just so.

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Fashion Week Street Style

Still, when I try on a Wang backpack or seriously consider a Chanel tweed dreadlock ponytail extension, there’s a fear that I’m exactly like some guy on Jimmy Kimmel claiming that Betsy Ross’ collection this season is full of clean lines. For me, I still need to go to the store and touch the fabric, pull on the buttons and make damn sure that even though designer sweatshirts are currently the bomb, the one I buy won’t give me a mono-boob.

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Image Courtesy of Glamour Paris

So what do you think? Have logos and labels made us all a bit lazy? Would you trust yourself in a room full of clothes with no tags? What made you fall in love with your favorite designers—the quality or the label? Do tell…

-By Natasha Walsh–Senior Contributor for Fifty-Two Thursdays

 

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  • Reply
    Karol
    September 28, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    This was awesome! I’m also an old-school Loehmann’s shopper but I don’t remember when there were no labels. I do remember when there were no dressing rooms and people would just change in the aisles. I also remember when similar store Century 21 only let you try on “European Designers” in their dressing rooms (suck it, Calvin Klein). No, people would not be able to shop with no labels these days. There’s definitely a sense of belonging in branding these days. Are you an Alexander Wang girl or what?

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