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The Pitfalls of Chasing Labels, Brands, and Material Success

Diane Hall


Materialism and Marketing going hand in hand.

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I’ve never been one to entertain brand names (okay, okay, I will never renege on Heinz ketchup in favour of Aldi’s own). However, even if I could afford it (and if I stretched a tad, I probably could), I wouldn’t have an Audi, BMW or Mercedes, for example. Because, as I see it, why pay more for a badge? A car is just there to get you from A to B—who cares what it ‘says about you’? 

I buy clothes because I like them, and you’d be far more likely to see a size 12 label in my garments than a designer’s mark (and there really is fat chance of that, pardon the pun). Clothes are an opportunity to express your tastes and personality—but, when gorgeous, trendy clothes are affordable to most people, why over-furnish someone else’s bank account in return for some cotton (*other fibres are available) that bears some branding? Just think of the experiences and memories you could make with the money you’re spending on that moniker instead.

If someone judges you on the labels, names or badges you wear, they’re not someone worth knowing anyway, in my opinion. Save your money!

Part of a famous clothing logo

Labels, brands, designers…they’ve never impressed me, and it’s not because I can’t bring myself to splurge (ask those who know me). I just rally against them and spend my money on doing stuff instead. I find the sometimes-slavish dedication towards paying well above the odds of what an item is worth a really weird notion—more so if it’s to impress other people than to please yourself. 

Of course, we’re all different, and people are free to spend their money on anything they want. There’s a proportion of the population who are label lovers—which is fine if you’ve got the money to indulge yourself.

But if you haven’t, please don’t feel that a designer label dangling from your arm, or on your feet or chest, for example, gives you more credibility—that it somehow makes you more interesting. You are enough without them. You don’t need these labels to suggest to the world, ‘Hey, I have so much spare money that I can throw it at this bloke’s/woman’s creation. Look at me! Look at me!’. Certainly not to the detriment of your gas bill or mortgage payment. All you’re doing is making those rich designers richer whilst you have sleepless nights over putting food on your table.

Rich person having a relax while out shopping for brands and labels.

Having lots of money is another thing that doesn’t impress me. If you’ve earned it yourself, without stamping on or exploiting anyone, good luck to you—I mean that. For everyone else, who has allowed greed to redirect their moral compass, or those who are born into wealth and have little concept of or care for what their fellow humans go through because they have life easy, I have no respect. As far as I’m concerned, your actions speak louder than your bank balance.

That leads me to property. Some people can afford huge houses (i.e. the aforementioned rich amongst us). Some people need a large house to accommodate their larger-than-the-average family. Some people, however, feel that they must have a big house to impress. If you don’t need extra bedrooms, why have them? It’s just extra space to clean. Like I said, if you want a big house and can afford one, that’s your choice, but there are some people out there who have stretched themselves to the nth degree for a house larger than they really need, to demonstrate their ‘success’ to the world and to impress their clique. (With friends like that, though, who needs enemies?!)

Unfortunately, if having a humongous mortgage didn’t frighten them when they signed on the dotted line, it might be scaring them silly now, given the progressive rise in interest rates. 

This isn’t meant to be a ‘told you so’ blog, more of a recognition that some people live beyond their means to keep up with the Joneses when they don’t need to. You may know some of them. Maybe you’re even one of them. 

Rich woman living her life

We live in a capitalist society—it’s drilled into us constantly that money equals success. That being able to afford lots of branded goods, a huge house and a German car means you’re part of the in-crowd, the Yuppies, the want-for-nothings…that you’ve ‘made it’ and you’re worth more than those you look down on, because they don’t have all those things. Again, if you can afford such items, and that floats your boat, I don’t understand you, but it’s your life. If you can’t afford them, it’s not a sign that you’re a failure—if anything, you’re a stronger person for not giving into what is nothing more than clever marketing spin. Paying over the odds for a must-have/aren’t you jealous that I have it item means nothing else than you’ve paid over the odds for something you could have got much cheaper. You’ve fallen into the capitalist trap.

You’ve been led to believe that what you can afford is a measure of your worth—not your material worth but your worth as a human being. That belief has made someone, somewhere, rich. Truthfully, what has over-paying for that item done for you, other than making you poorer?

All that said, I play the lottery. I’d love to win millions, but not to impress anyone (I’d firmly tick ‘no publicity’). The cash would give me more options in life, and the opportunity to see and do things I can only dream of. I still wouldn’t buy a flash car (have you tried to get out of a sports car when you’ve nearly 50 and overweight?!). I would move house for an extra bedroom, but only because I don’t have one at the moment and it would be handy if the kids’ friends came to stay. I wouldn’t want more than this, though, even if I could afford it.

I know that endless money wouldn’t change me…you have that statement from me, in black and white. I wouldn’t go out of my way to impress anyone, even if I was a millionaire; if you don’t like me, you don’t like me, that’s life. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

I don’t feel the need to impress anyone with the things I own—I’d much rather they thought well of me because of the things I do and how I make them feel.

AI generated Art showing Greed

Money incites greed, which unlocks all sorts of undesirable traits in people, unfortunately. It takes much more energy and strength of character to simply keep up with yourself and your personal growth than endlessly vying for ‘top spot’ against Mr and Mrs Jones.

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