Monday, October 19, 2009

A Talk on Trendy Cattle (and being an original consumer)

I wanted to follow up Friday’s introduction (in levity) of planned obsolescence with a little more chatter on the subject.

As “the Detective” mentioned,
planned obsolescence is when manufacturers produce items that are intentionally designed to fall apart or break down within a relatively short window of time. This intention is orchestrated for one purpose: to get us to consume.

Now, there is A Lot we could say about consumerism these days. Depending on who you talk to, it is either the bane of our civilization or the salvation of it. And although both of those ideas are very intriguing to a closet nerd like myself, what I want to focus originality.

In my opinion, planned obsolescence works best when we fit the mold.
In other words, when we predictably make purchases based on price (aka the lowest price always wins), and on trend. For instance, Old Navy can afford to make shoddy shirts (and let’s face it--they are shoddy) because a) they know we love a bargain, and b) they know that the trend will expire about the same time as the shirt will.

So am I saying that being original means you have spend more money and eschew trends? No, of course not. I’m just as eager to find the cheapest ruffled apparel I can get my hands on this season as the next lady. But according to an article I recently read in Time magazine, women today make 75% of the buying decisions in American homes. In other words, collectively we are The Consumer. And as a group, I’m remiss to say that we tend to behave like cattle. Trendy, fashionable cattle...but cattle nonetheless.

Being original, then, means that we need to exercise our “consumer identities” with some foresight and intention. This includes budgeting wisely, investing in quality, and wasting less. And if that sounds about as fun as a wet blanket, don’t worry--there are lots of clever ideas and conversations ahead that will spice up the concept, I promise!

But before all of that...what do you think? Are we more cattle or ranchers? Talk amongst yourselves...

Other Be An Original Posts:
Original Sweater
A Story...
Be An Original

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