There is a totally made-up story in today's New York Times about Bottega Veneta. You know Bottega. They make those basketweave-y leather bags. Unless you don't know Bottega, in which case now you know the source of all the noxious superiority fumes whenever you're in the realm of one of the carriers of one of those basketweavy bags. Well, here's the "trend": The idea is that Bottega's bags are getting popular because they are more "understated" than flashy Louis Vuitton bags, and people are sick of logos. You know, the basketweave, it is not quite like a logo. No one knows where it's from. Until they do. And then they recognize it everywhere they see it. So it's like a logo, but subtler. Plus, you can't knock it off! So people know you spent a lot of money. Sort of like with a logo, if all the people who stole other people's logos were rounded off and thrown in Guantanamo Bay like God intended. Seriously though. I have known about Bottega since 2006, when I took a press trip to Hong Kong, on which a publicist was hellbent on acquiring a knockoff...Bottega Veneta.
Her determination about this endeavor, and the obvious joy she took in the knockoff Bottega's acquisition, quite disturbed a pretty friend of mine who was also on the press trip. It was so shallow! But fast forward two years, and said pretty friend shows up to meet me toting...a Bottega Veneta! What happened? Below, an exclusive interview with said friend as to how she learned to stop worrying and love conspicuous consumption.
MOE: You! I have to consult you about something. And that something is...your handbag.
Your anonymity will be closely guarded.
PRETTYFRIEND: um, ok. go
MOE: Is it Bottega?
PRETTYFRIEND: ha! i'm glad you think that. i got it for $20 off the street before i went to barcelona in the fall. hahahahaha!
take that [PUBLICIST] "hong kkong" [PUBLICIST]
MOE: The thing that's so funny about this story is how it's like, "Bottega is all about understated logo free design."
And I'm thinking, if it gets knocked off, it is a fucking logo.
PRETTYFRIEND: "Instead of buying a $1,500 handbag that may be indistinguishable from versions selling for one tenth of the price, they may part with several thousand dollars for a piece that looks durable and worth the splurge."
MOE: I just don't understand, after a certain age, why you would buy something so that...people would know you spent a lot of money on it.
PRETTYFRIEND: isn't that mostly with the upwardly mobile middle class? like the black guy that has to get rims on his car because he lives in a neighborhood where that is necessary blah blah blah
with women, it's mostly handbags, shoes and sun glasses. god, sunglasses. when did they start selling for $600?
MOE: oh. my. god. serioulsy.
THAT IS A POST.
PRETTYFRIEND: that is DEFINITELY a post
MOE: THE MARGIN ON SUNGLASSES MUST BE LIKE 99.999999%
PRETTYFRIEND: because even the cheap-o brands have their names on teh side so you immediately know NOT GUCCI
MOE: ok but here's the thing, the people who get rims are usually not middle class ...they are more like...what became of the middle class.
PRETTYFRIEND: true. maybe a better example are women and ridiculous shoes. i mean to a certain extent a black patent leather pump is just a black patent leather pump, right? unless it's a christian loubitan and then it's an $800 pump which also happens to have a read sole
MOE: Right, but why do middle and upper-middle class educated professional women fall prey to the same silly forces we associate with the rims-weilding lumpen?
rims-rolling, excuse me.
And all this shit starts with the plutocracy anyway.
I suppose Toqueville could answer that. sigh american exceptionslism long sigh
PRETTYFRIEND: wait, i have to run. but i just want to say that i do own ridiculous shoes — and not just because one of my lesbian friends works at saks and could get me a 65% discount. i own them because i am in a group of friends where everyone owns them
and they make my calves look fecking fantastic
and yes, when i get too drunk i start smoking
i am that girl
MOE: i love you
You'll Know How Much You Spent [NY Times]