Blinded by The Label

We’re all guilty of it.


Isabel Marant blouse, Acne Pop Trash jeans, Maison Martin Margiela shoes and everyone’s favorite: Pete.

Thumbing through racks at a familiar department store left me wondering where my style cues are headed. I recognized that I’d been indulging in fashion that I wasn’t sure I appreciated for the sake of fashion — or possibly because this was the piece that Vogue had featured in all its glory an issue earlier. I had to ask myself, would I wear this if it weren’t by X designer? But merely having to ask this worried me and before I knew it, I was moseying through additional racks at the same department store, trying to blind my eye from the label tags.

What I found: far less enthusiasm for much of the clothing I had previously admired and new cues sprouting in store sections I’d never even stumbled upon. I recounted the situation to Charlotte and she looked at me as though I’d clearly not been clued into something the rest of mankind already had:

“We’re blinded by the label,” she said. “You don’t know if you love what you’re wearing because it’s either designer or a perfect reinterpretation of a designer, but either scenario does not equate to real love.”

Eureka! I thought. Blinded by the label.

And when you have to substantiate your purchase by validating the designer name most typically means you’re in the trenches of the blindness. I’d been there before, that was for certain. What with this new enlightenment, I couldn’t help think: was everything I’d ever invested in a lie?

Take the photographed black mesh Isabel Marant long-sleeved shirt for example. It’s the perfect gay man repeller: tight mesh and a hairy chest. Unusual, interesting…a conversational masterpiece — but would I have appreciated it in the same capacity had it not been labeled Isabel Marant?

And those python print Margiela open toe booties. Cool for the sake of novelty or genuine interest in box shaped shoes? I just couldn’t tell anymore and began to wonder if my fashion tendencies were just an outstretched manipulation of the fashion industry at large. Would I have really wanted that Hermes Collier de Chien bracelet had it not been Hermes?

I felt…lost.

And not because all of a sudden I hated my clothes. Quite the contrary: I probably loved them more–I’d have bought the jeans photographed whether they’d cost $20 or $300, but this unleashed a larger issue: the manipulation in question wasn’t really tainting the clothes. It was tainting the psyches of the people who wear the clothes.

To add insult to injury, I got to thinking about Zara, the mecca of reinterpretations.

Charlotte recounted a story describing triumph in finding, recognizing and purchasing a $60 sweater from Zara that had all too keenly resembled a certain something from Chloe’s Resort 2010 collection. Wearing it one afternoon after enduring a series of jabs at it, she asked: have I just been blinded by the ability to procure such a close replica for such a low price? Was this top even cute to begin with? Would I have been interested in the knock-off version if I didn’t make the connection to its inspiration source?

I didn’t have the answer, my mind was too deeply invested in a feathered skirt from Forever 21 that I swear-to-God looked exactly like a Junya Watanabe piece I had seen just a week before at Barney’s.

What is it with the designer allure? Are we dying for acceptance and approval? Initiation into a club, ostensibly mandated by high end, fancy craftsmen that exists only in the most self conscious versions of ourselves?

You know, for a while, I couldn’t understand why Anna Wintour, a woman with the most abundant access to lavish designer fashion, would abide solely by three key outfitting pieces, period. I wrote it off as the line she drew, a detachment from the industry in whatever capacity she could control — but the more I think about it, the more I can appreciate what she might be getting at.

Here’s a woman who sticks to one shoe (a Manolo Blahnik sling back), one coat silhouette (typically knee length and of the exotic skinned variety) and elegant dresses (slim fit and modest that fall parallel in length to corresponding outerwear). It’s like she’s found the medium that won’t leave her blinded and she’s running with it.

This can conceivably be likened to the theory of a certain Clement Greenberg. Maybe Anna Wintour has preserved a tiny fragment of Greenberg’s uptight standards of modern art. In his eyes, what characterizes a piece of work as truly modern lies in its ability to be completely self-referential, allowing a clear visual experience completely void of external conditions. But if these standards of an autonomous viewing experience were impossible in the mid 1900’s, when Greenberg introduced his theory, how can there be expectations for us to have an unclouded visual experience today?

Especially with tools like Pinterest–one that only makes it easier for us to draw immediate visual connections between a work of art and its inspiration source.  Is it even possible for us to disregard labels when they constantly surround us?

Perhaps Anna Wintour can only find this sense of visual purity that seems extinct by maintaining an uncompromisable personal aesthetic. Maybe, in fact, we can all benefit from taking a page from the Wintour book of style and try as we might, let our clothes speak for themselves.

Co-edited by Charlotte Fassler

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  • ines

    beautifull bag….

    • But, honey, she wasn’t carrying a bag. That’s Pete.

      • inés

        is french humour so incompréhensible????

  • Emily

    I want that shirt! Can’t find it anywhere!! Suggestions?

  • Putri Soe

    totally agree. sometimes i also had an increase on impulsive buying simply because it was made by some disgner–who i didn’t really like sometimes!

  • morgan

    loved this post! i recently have been feeling “blinded” and today was actually just thinking exactly what you wrote in your post. i am LOVING fall fashion this year, especially compared to the last few seasons and was thinking how i should take a step back so i don’t empty my savings for the love of fashion and vogue haha:)

  • It’s definitely not just you – I have searched high and low for those very Acne jeans before realising, hang on, not only are they just a pair of ripped jeans, boyfriend jeans don’t suit me and I definitely only wanted them because they were (a) Acne (b) being worn by everyone in fashion I admire and (c) sold out.

    When it comes to labels like Celine, Lanvin and Acne, about which the whole industry has been waxing lyrical these past two seasons, I think yes, there is a 100% blindness going on. It’ll take some serious missteps from those labels before we turn away – it’s great for them, because they don’t need to try so hard any more. Their very names make them covetable. But for us, it definitely makes it harder to draw the line between what we, on a very pure level, like – what suits us, how we want our fashion to interpret our selves and to say something about us – and what we think we want, because the label tells us so.

    Fashion: it’s not all fun frocks and stiletto pumps, y’know! It’s practically molecular physics!

  • Liz

    I love these type of pieces you write. Gives more meaning and depth to fashion as a whole than the top ten bandage-inducing stiletto ones.

  • Pretty obvious phenomenon. Putting on little invisible blinders is a good trick – kind of how I train myself to recognize my real taste.

    I almost have an opposite response to knockoffs, though. Often I like an item because of its novelty – and seeing the knockoff version of it just totally negates the cause of my original fondness.

    As most things do, it probably just comes down to money. We can’t afford the authentic novelty, so we opt for that which is. It’s why blogs like yours so often make me feel like a wannabe. I wish I could embrace authenticity, but my part time $12/hr job doesn’t.

  • fashion, as an artistic medium, is made inherently convoluted and complicated by the commercial aspects to it…. many pieces are in fact commodities, produced in mass (which ranges in meaning, based on designer, craft, and targeted demographic, thereby price point) and sold to the public. generating a ravenous desire to purchase and own these pieces is a formidable and necessary part of the equation. hello, manipulation. in a sense, economy and art, in the real world, cannot be separated, but, unlike, say, a famous painting, there are more than one. of course, this entire argument becomes itself more complicated by the fact that there are prints or reproductions, etc, but, i think you get the point.

    as for lady wintour, it definitely speaks volumes to finding your sense of style, your true aesthetic, but also discovering what is flattering on you (and, you know not repellant), and rocking it. in a sense, becoming a classic.

    this is an awesome post…… i admire your blog for many reasons, but, first and foremost, because you WRITE in it. real sentences, with varied diction and syntax. it is marvelous. beautiful pictures and mundane captions have their time and place, sure, but i wish more “fashion” bloggers took the time to put some thought in the words on the page.

  • Madisson

    The same thing has been dawning on me this past year. Far
    too often, I buy- or want to buy- something simply because it
    makes me think of its designer counterpart. Or I fantasize about super eclectic
    outfits, combining a multitude of prints that clash in that covetable way. But
    is that really me? I’d like to think that my opinions or personal style aren’t
    just something I’ve assembled from the predominant fashion-related images I’m
    exposed to.

    So I’ve settled on a new method when buying things. If I don’t
    absolutely love it and see myself still wearing it in 2+ years (*cough* almost
    all of Zara…*cough*), I won’t buy it. It does tend to make it harder to find
    things, but at least I’m being a bit more true to myself.

  • nykeiko

    Totally insightful piece. I am totally blinded by designer labels but because I can’t afford any of the high fashion luxe labels, I stick with accessories and 1-2 pieces I invested in. I usually shop for independent/loca/smaller designers who uses high quality material and make their pieces with care and love and for me, that’s top designer quality because these pieces are the ones that will last forever..just as long as a quality designer piece. What do you think? However, I recently got my hand on a Proenza Schouler lizard shoulder bag retailed at $4000 but got it at less than $400 . I did not LOooove the bag but I got it anyway because of the label!

    Love you

  • monkeyshines

    absolutely inspiring article!


  • Mari

    Amen to that!

  • Nailed it right on the head, repeller!


  • Gillian Robin Christie

    I have always loved your blog for your wit and creativity…and of course your quirky style. Now you’ve added a new facet…vulnerability and depth…I love all the questions you’ve been asking yourself recently (this post and the one on quitting Instagram) and then sharing it with us readers. Love it!!

  • Really one of your best. This is something that I think most of us actually do think about, but then decide to not ponder too long on and go on thinking the same way about fashion as we have done before. That is, wanting certain it-items and wanting to do anything to get them without really knowing why we act this way.

  • beeboop

    I can’t tell you how glad i am that you wrote this. I believe I was heading down a path towards blindness and needed a WAKE UP CALL. Thank you

  • Cassandra

    I am so glad that someone as influential as you is writing about this. As someone who has to save up her dollars for quite a while for any coveted designer piece, I often find myself at that third paycheck, putting my money into a sartorial savings account, wondering, “Why do I even want this? I don’t even like it now.” I was blinded for sure, suddenly realizing I would much rather put my money toward a small trip or a more timeless, less trendy piece. I constantly find myself asking, “Would I wear this for more than one season? Will I look like a crazy person if I slip this on in a month or two? Will I truly look awesome in this?” I began to buy designer pieces not because they were designer, but because they were truly beautiful and exceptionally well-made. They were true investment pieces that I would be able to wear for years to come, and perhaps even hand down to my unborn children. I have vowed to only spend chunks of money on items I truly love, and it’s not always an easy vow to stick to.



  • Jennifer

    I rarely look at clothing labels. 1. because i can’t afford them and 2. it doesn’t matter to me whether Forever 21 or Dolce & Cabana make it.. I like it because of what it looks like not because of who makes it.

    xo Jennifer

    • BRAVO!

    • ML

      You go girl! In world of fashions that’s bravery! People are judge on the labels, we like it or not, why? Because (maybe thanks to the accessibility blogosphere has brought us) we can visually examine pieces in a fraction of a second. For example, I was at the mall the other day and witnessed almost ten pairs of Isabel Marant look-a-like sneakers, none of them were real but Steve Madden and even Skechers “inspiration” pieces. We just can tell.

  • Another interesting aspect of this issue to consider is whether the designer name is the sartorial tree in the forest…does it have value if no one else is around to appreciate it? Are we picking up designer pieces, not primarily for our own personal enjoyment but instead for the status these pieces give us when viewed by our peers?
    Great article. Thanks so much for writing it.

  • PinkCheetahVintage

    Great piece. I have to constantly question my purchases because of lack of funds. So I tend to gravitate toward pieces that have classic qualities– I need good function, durability, and last but not least, major STYLE.

  • Gabrielle

    Same can be said about Emanuelle Alt, look at her outfits, she found her style! Also Carine Roitfeld nailed it by saying:” Fashion is a thing you buy, style is something you own! Trying to get there.

  • Nataliechristina

    Its all of us. Were totally blinded and it really is ridiculos because the materials isnt even worth the money, and people cant even see the label or pricetag.
    all though, i dont really care about brands as much as many others. I buy it if i lake it, expensicve or not. I wont lie and say that i’d buy anything, but if i found a cheaper alternative to the chanel boucle id definetely go for it! And i like fleamarkets, so what if its used clothes?

  • Beth Sprouts

    Alexa Chung is a bit of a Wintour.

  • L.H.S.B.

    Hence why I swoon with happiness whenever you wear that Duane Reade hat.

  • WNY

    Interesting story, but I loveee your Maison Martin Margiela’s and I want them too. The real ones of course! Or hopefully something similar will appear for H&M & Maison Martin Margiela… That’s kind of almost real designer, isn’t it? Xo

    – –


    Some weeks ago my boyfriend asked me the same thing. I was trying the Kelly bracelet from hermes and he asked me: If it wasn’t hermes, would you buy it? Even if it was 10 times cheaper. And so I left the bracelet in store. You are so so right. That’s why I love sales times when I can buy the real thing, that I really liked and waited for the entire season and it will last more than a Zara piece. In the meanwhile I’ll try just to get blinded time to time for my wallet’s sake.

  • Rebeka

    I love this. I love that you, with all of your fashion influence wrote it. It is definitely something I think about and struggle with from time to time.

  • I think it’s just a learning process, which is totally normal. A girl NEEDS to experiement, especially before she hits 30, in order to discover her own self. There are, of course, people who buy things not because they LOVE them, but simply because there’s a label attached to them and it’s either plain snobbery or lack of taste or personality (which would require a huge label and, ideally logo in order to be noticed). Designer clothes are beautiful and it’s worth buying some, especially the “timeless pieces”, but it’s not worth limiting your horisons within boutique walls. 🙂

  • Jill

    Totally agree. There are designer labels I LOVE but it’s because they fit my figure / lifestyle. Not because they are the thing of the moment. The high top wedge IM sneaks? Would have worn (though couldn’t have afforded) in the ’80s…but I was a teen then and we all wore Reebok high tops. 🙂 Wouldn’t wear them now because that’s not part of my personal style anymore. Her boots though…totally.

    I have a love / hate relationship with your shoes. 🙂 Some make me swoon and some you couldn’t pay me to take off your hands (not that you’ve offered, of course).

    To each their own…but I think the best style advice ever is to wear what suits you, regardless of fashion whims at any given time.

  • ClosetCravings

    It’s definitely easy to be blinded by labels. It’s good to try and keep yourself in check. I loooooove Isabel Marant, but I also love Target, The Gap, and American Eagle.
    Satisfy Your Cravings For Celebrity Style and All Things Stylish and Sweet

  • Pauline

    I just bought a pair of Vans sneakers, a Kenzo limited edition.
    It’s 30 euros more than the regular Vans. The difference with the regular Vans ? The print. And reading your article made me wonder “Do I love the print or the label KENZO ?”The answer is Kenzo of course; there is some regular Vans with cool prints. But I chose the Kenzo ones. Buying those sneakers gave me a pick of the Kenzo dream. It makes me feel special. I am literally laughing at myself right now. Fashion is so….. ridiculous sometimes. As you said it, we have to reconnect with the ACTUAL esthetics of the clothes, not with the labels attached to it. Let’s leave the race of the coolest labels to losers in Fashion week. WE ARE WINNERS PEOPLE ! Let’s wear stuffs we love (for the goods reasons!)

  • Cecilia Roella

    You just opened my eyes. I swear I never saw it this before. It’s the sad truth. We’re blinded by labels, but not just in fashion. I mean, who would drink something different from Coca Cola? LABELS POWER.

  • Maybe its because, like Anna Wintour, I have a few years under my belt, but although I am often inspired by the fabulous outfits i see in magazines I rarely spend a lot of money trying to buy the exact look, or even a replica. I can’t afford designer clothes new, and even Zara prices seem excessive for super trendy pieces. I much prefer to let my own artistic expression emerge in my clothing and outfits.
    On the other hand designer clothes do look amazing and are of gorgeous quality, making anyone who wears them look fabulous. Maybe that’s why we like them so much?

  • Your style is just about wearing simple things with class and glamour-urban-chic touch. Love your pants !

  • Taylor

    You’ve got to read this book I just finished called Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. She talks about this exact topic, that many of us are only interested in certain clothes because of the name, not the quality or aesthetic. She used Missoni for Target as an example; those clothes were all made of polyester, as opposed to the many fabrics that are intricately woven together in the real thing, but no one cared-they just wanted something that said “Missoni” on the tag.

  • Adeola Naomi Aderemi

    Just absolutely the post I was waiting for, you are not alone and I wish we can all try to see beyond the labels and the celebrity that wore what.



    • hahaha! true say.

    • Dina

      Don’t be so judgmental Sheree. This is an awesome post. It’s all about developing taste and style and that takes time.

  • I’ve thought a lot about this too. Sometimes I can’t decide if I like a piece until I know who designed it. Which made me wonder about the source of my affection was, in the first place. Was it the piece or the designer? I actually realized it was a bit of both. Sometimes it can be hard to “understand” a piece until you can place it among the pantheon of a designer’s other work. But I do realize this makes the liking of the piece more problematic, because is it the piece itself I like or the context, knowing that it comes from a particular designer?

    When you compare fashion to other art, however, you may realize that you like a particular painting both because of how it looks AND because of who painted it. Is this any less valid affection? I’m not sure it is.
    That said, knowing what works on you and what you like is valuable It might be noted that Ms. Wintour often sticks to a few particular designers. If it’s just about silhouette, why would this be?
    I’m not sure there are any satisfying answers to these questions, but they are valid nonetheless. So, Man Repeller, are you foregoing designer wears now? 😉

  • Ah…to be able to purchase designer clothing when said designers aren’t your friends. :’)

  • Lexi

    I absolutely ADORE that you know who Clement Greenberg is.

  • Olivia Grzasko

    This is a very true and mature realization of the current fashion culture. With all of the great flea markets, vintage and consignment stores in New York City, I would love to see what you could put together following only your gut reaction to the pieces themselves and not the current fashion trends or the label…..

  • Glykeria Roilides

    It’s very true eveyrything you’ve written and I can identify completely. I can’t afford luxury brands, but browsing around sites like Matches and net-a-porter, or paging through Harper’s, I find myself “loving” everything, when in the meantime, I snub stores with very accessible prices, even if I may find something I really like. I think it’s even more obvious in the world of fashion blogging: everyone is proud to show off some designer items, whether they are a Miu Miu top, a Prada bag, or Givenchy shoes. Everything else falls under the category “vintage, gifted, bought from local boutique” or something similar. True? Yes. Sad? It depends on our view on fashion, as an industry or as an art. Fashion labels are more a way of distinguishing people, the ones who can afford them and the ones who cannot. I actually wrote a small piece on the same topic not long ago.

  • Nikki

    I try to look at clothes blindly to see what I really like, but I ALWAYS label check for quality. There are lots of great clothes out there…well cut…great colors…but 90% of it will fall apart in a single wash or one quick bend. On the other hand, go to any Neiman Marcus Last Call store and you will see piles of ass-ugly misfit clothes by extremely reputable designers. Even the best artists fail every now and again.

  • nina

    Is this seriously the first time you are asking yourself these questions? Great that you are now, the piece is very insightful but I mean…

  • This is very deep.

  • Well argued…do you think you will change your buying behavior after your realization? Also, a small correction: Greenberg was writing mid-20th century, not early (b. 1909).

  • Jacquie R

    This is one of the most honest and enlightening fashion blog posts I’ve ever read. I find myself doing this all the time. I always love your posts but this one is my favourite!

  • The only time I go with designers that are a little overpriced in my budget are when I know the item of clothing will last and hold it’s quality better! I can’t go for top designers, but I have noticed a difference in longevity between J Crew and Forever 21.

    • hannah

      True that!

  • Azorias (Korea) & Miss Selfridge (UK) are some of my favorite little bitches. If you look good in an outfit, who honestly gives a shit where it’s from?

  • Duff

    Between this and your recent extrication of the self from narcissistic/compulsive Instagram-ing and realization that weekly manicures are a big fucking waste of time, I’d say you are on to something. Here’s hoping to the coming revolution and the fall of the great fashion blog, where hundreds of needy so-called individuals wear the same variation on the same outfit, striking the same poses in the same city streets and country meadows, accessorized with the same “it” items from the same “indie” designers. I follow you because you make me snort vodka through my nose, but I’m looking forward to the passage of our obsession with blogs. Shalom and God bless.

  • Hailey

    It’s so not just you. Seem times I only can find it in my heart to like something enough to buy it when I find out its a label I like.

  • Katie Papaz

    i mean i wouldn’t feel too bad…your feature in asos magazine was amazing, and i think that most of your readers can afford at least a few pieces from what you liked from the fall collection. but at the same time, just as you feel a strange inclination to buy house shaped margielas and acne boyfriend jeans, a lot of “regular” girls feel a strange inclination to like whatever you like on your blog. hence everything your recommended at asos for fall being sold out…and the latest propensity among your readers to don neon costume jewelry with forty bracelets and beach hair. show us an outfit post that isn’t all $100 t-shirts (a la rodarte prom) and $300 dannijo costume jewelry and make us believers again! or…even give some tips on how to spot quality clothes for cheap. not EVERYTHING from zara is quality….but not all of it is shit either.

  • Alexa

    Every time you put on those jeans I want them! I always find myself looking at a designer item on sale and thinking “omg, if I bought these I wonder how much publicity I would get at NYFW” but I don’t even love them. It’s like looking at someone who just got a hair cut and thinking I hate that they got it done at Cost Cutters, but if they had got it done at the expensive salon and it looked the same exact way would I still feel annoyed?


  • Deanna

    I tried on a couple of pairs of Acne jeans today (on a really good sale), and stood in the change room trying to decide whether to buy them, when i realized that i basically only wanted the brand name, and that they look almost identical to a pair already have from Joe Fresh. Label blindness averted! But very tempting.


    I wish I could truly care that I was wearing an expensive label, but that is not my reality, so I’m going to have to be content with whatever cute Free People or Gap purchases I can afford to buy. There are plenty of knock off designer frocks for me to buy, and I’m completely okay with that as long as I look cool in it. Most people aren’t looking down the back of my collar to see who made my clothing.

  • StyleGrenade

    I want your flamingo toy. Seriously!!

    xx Diana

  • Tatyana K

    Wish I could say I relate, but my sartorial hunting trips start and end at thrift stores. There, the label is everything. Not a blinding light, but a handy-dandy flashlight. Most of the racks are packed with cheap cast offs from target, forever 21 and the like, but every once in a while I will stumble upon an item from Banana Republic, J Crew or Ann Taylor. When dealing with extremely sparse resources an eye for quality is a must. Granted, an experienced thrifter will be able to gauge the worthiness of an item without glancing at the label, they are invaluable tools for the beginner Goodwill hunter…
    Although we are worlds apart I love reading your blog for the nonstop puns, mutant words, and just your cleverness with words. Keep it up!

  • I rarely comment on blogs but I have to say that I have a lot of respect for this post. I work in fashion and see people, including myself, fall prey to this phenomenon all the time. It is kind of alarming how often really cute things are totally dismissed just because they aren’t designed by the coolest, most current designer. On the other hand, I am often disturbed by mass brands that basically steal really talented, original designs. I appreciate that you are calling out both of these things in a very honest way. I think the concept of your blog is hilarious and the way your dress inspiring, but I rarely read it because it feels very out of touch with the regular working girl. But, by showing your vulnerability (using a word used in a previous comment) I have a renewed interest in who you are and what you are doing. Another commenter said, “oh, you’re just asking yourself this now?” – well to them I have to say this: life is a steep learning curve and everyone is evolving in the way that is right for them. For you to post this is quite brave in light of the culture we live in, so bravo.

  • Cat

    This was thoughtful and well written. If one considers fashion art, couldnt one reason that loving an “original” piece is justified? Then the decision becomes, do I acquire it, buy a replica or simply appreciate it in passing. Its just a thought about how vested one might be in a piece.

  • Julie


    • Leandra Medine

      She sure is!

      • Julia


    • Liv

      she really really is!!!!!!

  • Dana Parker

    loved this.

  • Carol Elizabeth

    I completely agree. Fashion is constantly evolving, and the availability of “fast fashion” makes it especially easy to succumb to trends that we would otherwise not gravitate towards. So often I find myself questioning whether I admire an article of clothing because it is truly my style or because it is made by a designer I admire. People who buy things simply because they are designer, however, get on my last nerve. Exhibit A: I am a huge fan of Jason Wu, and I genuinely adored his collaboration with Target. Arriving at the store, I was amazed to find teens and their mothers racing to grab seemingly everything in their size, all the while asking each other “Who is Jason Wu”. We all fall victim to hype and labels at some point. The idea of missing out on the opportunity to have a coveted item is especially hard for those of us who are part of the fashion industry. This is why classic pieces, knowledge of what really works for your body and a strong sense of personal style are so important when shopping. Great article, and those booties are gorgeous (Margiela or not!).

  • marinacasapu

    When I saw the first time those Acne jeans my reaction was ” oh my, they are so hideous” , and now, after seeing them everywhere i kinda start liking them!
    we are certainly manipulated in our choices!!!!


    I rarely get “lost in the labels”, I did however in my early twenties..I thought that was fashion. I later learned fashion is whatever speaks to me, period! I still seek talent and certain aesthetics sometimes that means favoring certain designers and thats ok BUT I will never buy something I don’t love simply because it’s deigner! This was perfectly written, thank you.

  • THIS is absolutely well-written! Also why I keep coming back for more! Always refreshing. Brava 🙂

    It further begs the question: am I wearing this to be snapped by Scott/Tommy/Phil/etc.? Or because I ACTUALLY like this and can truly appreciate the makings of a great piece.

  • Loren


    As a (relatively) young costume jewelry designer I battle with this concept ALL the time. I feel that in order to feel that I’ve really MADE it, I have to be sitting along the likes of Dannijo (your fav!) Erikson Beamon, KJL, etc at Henri Bendel or on the most elite sites like Net-a-porter. Because that’s what it takes for my fashion-conscious audience to crave every piece I produce for the sake of the label. Not only is it the labels that cause folks to lust after something without even questioning liking it, but celebrities have the power to create a furry for a product, as do influential people like yourself (hello, arm party!??). We are social beings, and crave acceptance and love. We tell the world what kind of person we are by what we wear (be it Chloe or Kohl’s) and seek out others like us. It’s a social thing in the end. It’s the world we live in, so as a designer I have to keep climbing my way towards the top. Maybe I’ll see you in NYC one day rocking some of my work when I’ve “made” it. Great post- keep ’em coming.

  • Rayne S

    This is extremely well written and for me personally, someone who can’t afford to follow whatever hyped up trend a designer puts out I think I’m at more of an advantage to be able pick pieces based off of practicality and aesthetics. I do admire things that are coming down the runway from a far and I do have an incredible love for fashion but I try to stay as realistic as possible when it comes to putting those things into my closet.


  • Maya

    I know this really doesn’t relate to this post exactly, but I love this blog and the idea of it (and I read every single post)! However, I’d never really thought of my style as “man repelling” until today. So today, I was wearing one of my all time favorite outfits: a girly dress and Doc Martens. It’s such a perfect outfit! The boots totally take the girlyness out of the dress because, really, who wants to look like a fairy? Not me. Anyway, I met up with my boyfriend, and his first reaction to my outfit was “Doc Martens?” But I could tell he was thinking “Geez, what’s with the clown shoes and why can’t she wear ballet flats like a normal female?” Needless to say, I had to post my story on this blog. Obviously, you’ve rubbed off on me! I am successfully using fashion to repel men. And I look awesome doing it. Thank you!

  • fabricaddict

    Just when I thought you totally sold out, you got real. Restored my faith in man(repelling)kind!

  • Alaina

    It’s all about the editing: both in fashion and writing. Your style and Charlotte’s editing are quite complementary.

  • Anne


  • Laura

    So true. I don’t know if you have Sportsgirl in the US, but it’s a high street type store in Australia… anyway, they have a collar necklace on sale for $30 at the moment which is pretty much an exact replica of the neon DANNIJO one, which costs what, $700? I very nearly bought it… and actually went back a second time to buy it… before realizing that the only reason I wanted it was because it resembles a $700 necklace and I would give my right arm for several other dannijo pieces, but not this one.

    I do think that the process of coveting and investing in a designer piece that you genuinely do love is worth it over going for the 70% as good knock off version, though. It’s important to feel that your clothes are special.

    Thanks for the thought provoking article!

    xx Laura

  • thunder

    love this type of post… hope to read more in the future.
    it’s insightful and touches on a topic that deserves more light in the materialistic society we live in
    Leandra, you get another star in my book for keeping it real 😉

  • Nat

    I really appreciate your interpretation of Anna Wintour’s style as a “sense of visual purity.” I feel like as one of the most influential fashion editors, being surrounded by clothing, trends, and fashion fashion FASHION is quite jading- to the point that she needs to keep her own style as rudimentary as possible. Elegant and legendary, yes, but clean and basic, always.

  • Jill

    The Missoni for Target collection was NOT all made of polyester. I bought quite a few items from that collection (and that’s the only Target collaboration I found worthy of spending on, ever) and while there were some polyester items, it was by no means all of them. Just FYI.

  • Allegra
  • Eva Kraaijeveld

    Can’t think of anything that isn’t said already and totally agree with Rosemary, it’s not only you, definitely not. I’m guilty too…

  • Celia

    Well, I think everybody has got the same problem. Sometimes we are looking forward the clothes because it has got the label who says: “hello! i am dolce & gabbana!”. And this salute makes on you an amazing feeling like: “oh, yes, dolce & gabbana in my hands, only for me, i know it ’cause it is written here, in the label!”. And as you have said Leandra, sometimes this item is not as amazing as you have thought. I know Zara makes a lot of reinterpretations of the creations of all designers, but, would we wear something of an unknown label or shop? Here is where we have to improve and work in our eyes, and the way we see the clothes.

  • Kate

    this is one of the most refreshing articles in a long time, since we all are blinded with labels, even if we try not to. We just buy the things all of the fashion industry covet so we can be the one in our cycle of friends the other’s are jealous of, because you have this/that and they may not have access to it. I don’t think it really is 100% our choice anymore what we buy..
    xx Kate

  • Milena

    It´s not just the label, it is how that label categorizes you or where it makes you belong. Each brand designs for a certain group of people so you pick the one you feel most identified with.
    Acne is for fashionistas, Chanel is for classy ladies, Balmain is for “rockstars” and so on. Then comes Zara which is for those who can´t afford or don´t want to pay for the above but still want to get the style.

  • Julia Percia David

    I think it’s all about inspiration. As designers are inspired by a lot of surprising things to create their collections, we pick our inspiration on what we have interest for. Of course designers and brands are the more seductive inspiration because they sell us a real logic package going from lifestyle to particular aesthetics. It’s much more easy for commun buyers to be inpirated by brands. If we were less inspirited by brands maybe we all had a much more interesting look and wardrobe? Open question.


    Julia from

  • This is such a great insight into what drives the crazy fashion machine. We are all in a sense blinded by brands, labels and trends. It’s sad to think about the high street and their ability to profit from a simple reproduction of runway designs. Goods that are created knowing full well that they will be sold solely based on the connection the consumer has to the original, designer good. It’s also impossible to separate whether our lust for a good comes from within or from an external source, but I do think it’s good to analyze what we buy and what longevity it will have in our lives before buying.

  • nineleaflotus

    I have recently just realized this myself and moreover, the importance of loving what I have. I usually make a small list of key items for the trends of the season. But as I made this season’s list, to purchase one item per week, or even fortnightly, not only were there many items left off (as they already had a home in my closet) but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to search high and low for leprechaun shoes. Would my Fall ’11 Alexander Wang Anais’ not serve just as well as a buckled monstrosity?

    I think with access to fashion at the level it is now, we’ve forgotten to love what we have, which is a skill that is essential across all facets of life. Label chasing only compounds the fashion ADD. And I’d like to stop that train, I’d like to get off please.

  • Billie

    oohh.. I like this… from this and your insta post sounds like your doing some evolving, growing and re-evaluating. Such a healthy process in this industry!! In regards to your previous post I took a couple of months hiatus from FB (temporary deactivation) b/c I noticed after I joined at some point I changed my default page from cnn to FB! and was checking FB way too often and dependent on it. Now I have a healthier approach to it. Of course media/internet and fashion are your job. But your new approach to label blindness will result to opening your eyes to new designs that you discover b/c they inspire you and not what fashion says is hot, is cool is now.

  • Andrea Weigmann

    hmmm I also thought about that topic several times…(however would have never written it that well, first because of english not being my mother tounge and secondly: don’t wanna copy your awesome style of writing…honestly!)I definately buy the fancy stuff for myself…my friends are not that much into fashion, the boyfriend doesn’t care (although he also likes a good BOSS suit)…BUT honestly it also flatters me getting compliments “are these the real ….”! Now you confused me!!I guess if you’re into fashion you’re kind of fascinated by the big Designers, they are your heroes…Everyone needs a little hero sometimes, right?

  • B.

    Very interesting article, definitely something I have thought about myself when I go shopping. People who don’t know anything about designers and famous fashion trends might find it easier to pick clothing they actually love, rather than buying it to be trendy or as some sort of status symbol. But they might not be as tempted as us to try new, sometimes crazy things, created by these designers.

    Being aware of the ” blinded by the label” syndrom should be enough to make ourselves shop smarter.

  • Ana

    Great post! Really insightful and well-written, I think you said what was in the back of everyone’s mind!

  • Aishwarya Khanna

    Those jeans are RAD. And Pete looks absolutely swagged out.

  • Thanks for this post. You bring up a really interesting question. I have just found myself earlier this week feeling like I should get this skirt from Anthropologie: Basically for no other reason than that it looks so much like this Burberry one:

    I kept telling myself, “No, you don’t even like that skirt that much.” But the feeling that I should buy it wouldn’t go away. Somehow my brain has been wired to think it’s a great design just because I’ve seen in in Vogue, regardless of whether I actually like it that much.

    In this case, I recognized what was happening and didn’t buy the skirt, but I don’t think I’m always wary enough to catch it. I think it can be very hard to recognize it in yourself.

  • I was cornered into considering this on account of a student budget; instigated a spending ban, and went cold-turkey on shopping.
    The interesting thing was how it unexpectedly affected my engagement with blogs/ bloggers, labels, and trends- essentially, it sorta takes you out of it [to the extent you can remove yourself when tethered to Twitter…], and pushes you to revaluate what you “like”, and are willing to buy “into”.

    If you wanted to get methodical about it, the “getting over” process had what you might equate to four stages:

    1) “#FOMO”. That fear of missing out on what you’re convinced are the ass-tassled, “shat-pants” drop-crotch trousers you need. The [usually] fluffy/ feather/ plexi things endorsing restrictive movement that you’ll expect to remember as “the one(s) that got away”.

    2) Riding into Barney’s on a too-high horse- looking at the previously-mentioned, thinking “don’t need you; never did. This upmarket “slanket” dress that I ‘needed’ all, but two weeks ago is $600 of trash.”
    Essentially, your thoughts become bullshit seated in vitriolic resentment at not having the cash.
    You (I) might also stand, coughing up your spleen onto a second-floor display, hoping that, and “cough up the cash” share sentiments on a literal plane. It doesn’t work (but that’s a good thing, ‘cos remember, you “don’t give a shit.”)*
    * You do.

    3) An “out the box” appreciation- if you’re not engaged “in the box”, looking at the work of designer with getting your hands on a seasonal piece being a tangible outcome, you start looking at the work of design houses, and upmarket brands in the context of what it says of our time. A communicative tool that’s lets us know- somewhere down the line- we were okay with blue-tinted lenses, and octopus pants, because they were Dior, and Galiano kept his mouth shut -(& Britney was doing it).
    Remembering all of that- and lifting the spending ban- led to the next, and the best thing (though that’s questionable).

    4) Living for “Rocking Chair moments”- yeah, we buy into some “interesting” seasonal fashion on account of it being designer (or the assumption that it’s “good”/ of “investible” quality because of price). We might also look at images of us in those items, and wanna de-tag/ burn all evidence- but there’s fun in that (with friends- even better).
    We can usually count on designers to present the most OTT incarnation of trends on the runway, and as likely as they are to shit on a “price-per-wear”, I’ve gotta have something to laugh at when I’m old. I can look back at buys from three years ago, and cringe, and I can ask “- what the hell was I thinking?!”, but point is, I’ll remember- and more importantly, I’ll laugh.
    Give the pink-rinsed, rocking-chair you a moment to sit, and smile at an ill-judged, purchase; you never know, she might need it.

  • Christina

    I encountered this label issue only after dealing with another similarly blinding attribute: price. I used to buy things only because they were a great deal, but eventually found that they just sat in my closet unworn and those mere $3 could be spent on something I liked and actually wore! So now, despite price or label, I try to look at clothes for what they are.


  • StyleNonsense

    I Totaaaaaally AGREE! What AN Insightful Post, I Truly Believe That Some Designers Are Set Out On Making Clothes That Are Not Practical, Wearable Or Stylist At All But People Are Still Buying Those Clothes Because Of The Fashion Powerhouse Behind Said Fashion Item.

  • You raise a lot of good questions, for the most part just as someone who looks at a lot of damn blogs I think people are more into not caring about the brand. I myself am guilty of being blinded by the Brand. I’ll give you two examples. Recently I was in search of oxfords. Oxford shoes come a dime a dozen, but i had to have a pair of Lanvin oxfords. I was blinded by the brand and while I think I will get more use out of them that i would a pair of Forever 21 oxfords, there is a middle ground in there that I barely though about as I literally craddled this shoe in my arms like a newborn. Another example which is basically the same damn thing except with a pair of prada shoes, a decent replica didn’t come out until the next season but again I was blinded by the label of Prada and partly wanting a piece of the my most coveted line that I loved to death. However I think all of the things that we find are already planned by the fashion industry, no matter it it’s high priced, or not. Every year, somebody in an magazine office all of a sudden decides if the year of *insert color* Mint, burgudy, whatever, it probably started off with one designer, another designer seeing that and thinking, I can design a better garment in that color, or another bag, or something with tassels. To me, we are controlled, but there are certain people who take all that and make it their own, well most of us do, but there are some people who are totally stylish and aren’t following the “rules” laid out for us each season.

    But when it comes to clothing, i’m not able to throw myself into most of the things you blog about, but I have always been that type of person that wants the $$ stuff, I’ve always always been told I had espesive taste. I’m all for finding replica’s or inspired pieces, even thrifting something that actually looks like a trend, but I love my lux shit that i know will last! Which is does, I have some shoes that i literally have had for years, they held up well, and while i paid a grip for it, the cheapies that i brought are long gone and probably composted into lawn dirt by now. So sometimes it’s about quality, sometimes i’m blinded ( but never disappointed) and sometimes I don’t care at all.

  • vintage is my antidote to label blindess.


  • Andrew

    You might be interested in a book I’m currently reading called “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” By Elizabeth Cline. She discusses some of these same ideas at length. It’s a really interesting read.

  • Hannah

    I’ve been asking myself this question for as long as I’ve realized that I’m “obsessed” with fashion. Am I obsessed with labels or with fashion? Don’t we realize that some designer duds are hideous to begin with? I can get lost in buying something for the label but every purchase I make I ask myself if it’s the label or the item that creates the lure. Usually, it’s the label. Bummer, right? Nope. It has opened more gates for me; has made fashion more fun for me. I love vintage, and I love it for what it is, not who made it. It’s about being unapologetic towards liking what you like, not asking questions, and wearing something regardless if i’ts from the Salvation Army or Barney’s. You like it, you wear it. The acceptance of this release a huge burden, actually.

  • I would have to say I have, from the beginning of my fashion love, never given into the whole ‘designer label’ thing — exactly because of this. Excellent observation! I think designers have creativity and insight, but it can definitely become ‘all about the label’ at times.

    Visit my blog at: Farytale Blog


  • Ashley Walker

    This is a great post. I would dare say “article”. This is a question I ask myself all the time. Are you a label whore. Are you being pimped out by known names? I plan on doing a reaction post to this. This question will always be up for debate. Nice work!

  • Guilty

  • Sketch42

    Im in the camp that every single person who buys Isabel Marant is drinking the cool-aid. Every time I see someone, or even a group of girls wearing the same unjustifiable fashion, it’s usually by isabel. And thats not to say I hate everything, but I think other people just LOVE everything instantly because she made it… and well, ugh. I think the same thoughts about the Celine Luggage tote, which I think its flat out ugly: people just like it because its celine and its everywhere, when its actually a really bad shape. There are more things… Anyway, I think its something we are all guilty of, we are all label whores to some extent. But about Zara- I actually hope to one day stop shopping there completely. I find it kind of embarrassing to be wearing a knock off that I may not even KNOW is a knock off.

  • Elizabeth O’Mahony

    I have that Isabel top – I love it and and hate it at the same time but I mostly love it because it’s Isabel. If she made a dress made out of steaming manure I would wear it. I just can’t get enough of her…it’s a lame obsession but it is real. Thanks for showing me a new way to wear it! and I am right there with you…I wish I could say I am not a label whore, but I am. Not the LV or Gucci type, but still…

  • Good post. I have been enjoying these tremendously. Good writing. You’re making us think and not only look.

  • s.m.

    bravo leandra!
    this is something that i have been thinking about for a long time, ever since i worked at loehmann’s as a high school student, and watched a man come into the menswear department and pick up a t-shirt made by dolce and gabbana with one strip of sticky velcro on one side and another strip of fuzzy velcro vertically arranged several inches away (think 2 vertical strips overlying the area where one’s nipples would be). he asked me (clueless high school student) what the velcro was for, and i told him that he could just stick them together (essentially creating a bizarre furrow in the front of the shirt). laughing to myself, i assured him that this was all the rage, and that dolce and gabbana had designed it that way. needless to say, he was thrilled, and bought 4 of these shirts.
    i remember thinking what a fool he was, but look at myself now buying things i cannot afford just because of the name and think that i am no different than he is, all these years later.
    when i was in high school i was naive to all brands, and followed what fit well, and looked good. instead, many years later and with multiple years of schooling, i am more lost fashion-wise than i was then, ensnarled in a modern day emperor’s new clothes story constructed by the fashion industry. thank you for bringing this into such a sharp focus.

  • Cynthia

    Excellent post. I know there are certain things I would like to have and it’s probably all about the brand. There are some brands I do buy because of the quality and fit. I make a lot of my clothes and because I sew, I am used to quality fabric, construction, and fit. When I shop, I look for quality and not label. Designer clothes are beyond my budget.

  • cMast

    I haven’t visited your blog in awhile but happened to be scrolling through your posts and found this one particularly interesting. Working for a luxury fashion retailer in Canada I see on a daily basis customers and co-workers falling victim to the “label.” Its ironic that I found this post because currently on my browser I have been looking for a replica of the Isabel Marant silk cowboy/western blouse from fall 2012. I scoured a vintage market yesterday for one but only men’s shirts surfaced in huge sizes. I took to etsy and ebay but could once again find men’s sizing. I realized that this replica isn’t going to happen and neither is the Marant one as it retails for around $850. Also I realized I only want a replica because Marant made this awesome updated version. Blog posts like this one puts fashion into perspective and shows that realization can exist in such a trend saturated industry.

  • Crisis in Denim

    I’ve definitely done this (on a lower-end level). I’ve found myself in places like Loehmann’s seriously considering a $100 plain black t-shirt, or else a dress that would look terrible on me, just because it was Marc Jacobs.

  • Marta Pozzan

    I like when you say “What is it with the designer allure? Are we dying for acceptance and approval?” Maybe yes sometimes we are…sad

  • i really think that I operate from the opposite end of the spectrum. As a designer myself, and one with slightly limited funding, I find myself keeping up with the trends but only choosing the pieces that really spoke to me. For me it’s all about the aesthetic approach, (i.e. I like a lot of Marc Jacobs but I think those pilgrim buckles boots are hideous… or how I couldn’t really get into those Mui Mui glitter boots, regardless of my perverse obsession with glitter.) If I don’t fall in love with something, I won’t by it.. regardless of the designer. It could be 50 cents (lol) or $500. And I always find myself attracted to similar types of things, regardless of the season or the year.

    I dont’ know, that’s just how I see it.

    You have an amazing fashion sense, trust your instincts.



  • Christina Georgopoulos

    It is so true !I agree with you…
    faced that feeling too…I think that itis chanel that we buy the bag …i do not know ,if it was not for chanel maybe we wouldn’t buy that specific bag ..
    unfortunately so true …we have labelized everything …

  • cw

    I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!

  • Cyn

    Hooray for the truth!! This happened to me often, ill see a piece and think “eh, this is a mess.” Then ill see a blog or magazine article with a top notch celebrity wearing it and all of a sudden, I cant stop thinking about the piece that I once called out for being ugly. My excuse is that we all have something (or even more than one) that to other people are ugly, non-flattering, wrong in every way, yet we cling on to “but its ______<insert high-end desginer name" and then it feels okay to us. I think were all guilty at one point or another, I try to mix and blend my own likes into what I wear whether its on trend or not to keep my sanity and individuality in the streets of NY. 🙂 Cyn xoxo

  • jaci sac

    Wow. thanks for that.

  • sunny

    My very fashionable mother once told me, “Money doesn’t mean you have style, and style doesn’t mean you have taste.” Words I live by as I navigate my NYC fashion career everyday…Example: This weekend in Montauk I got tons of compliments and where-did-you-get-that’s on my $15 wedge sandals from Fabco and my cheeky Proenza knock-off in teal blue suede. If you look at fashion as a gestalt experience, and filter it with your own point of view rather than the label name, you’ll always have your own style, and everyone else will always be jealous.

  • Louise Nicks


  • Rivs

    Its not always the same thing (the replica at H&M and the original from Tory Burch) believe me, I have searched high low for things to get a better price. And plus, I feel like I am being cheated if I buy the cheaper one. Because its a rip off, I mean I just feel bad.

  • Greer

    Who is this fantastic Charlotte girl and can I replace her?

  • I love this post. I do think it’s amazing how Anna has access to everything fashion wise but keeps such a tightly defined personal style, as you explain. It’s a good reminder to see the clothing and not the label.


  • PopCult_Junky

    I’m usually more of a lurker than a commentator on blogs, but this post hit the nail on the head. I’ve been searching high and low for the perfect pair of black matte pumps for what seems like forever. The problem is my three go-to brands for shoes (MJ, Chloe, Tom Ford), didn’t nail it for me. Well, Tom Ford is a God but being able to walk in the shoes is somewhat of a priority. After much searching, I realized the problem was that I wouldn’t look beyond a few choice brands because I felt like they’re not only my ‘go-to,’ but that they somewhat define my style. Time to broaden the scope then!

  • Annie

    You should write like this more often…

  • As one who shops at Forever 21 (or at least used to), H&M and etc… I can say I personally don’t pay a ton of attention to what big labels are doing because I know I cannot afford it for one and for two I like to dress how I want to not how someone is telling me to. With that said I would not notice if x designer made a sweater just like mine. Who cares…not me. If I love it I and it fits well then I get it. If not then it stays in the store for someone who will love it. When I did pay close attention to labels was for recreations and trends but that was in high school.

    I do wish more people would stop buying everything they see on manicanions and develope their own style like Wintour. I have a great deal of respect for her and Michael Kors for finding their signitures and sticking with them. However, I do think that comes with age.

  • Sarah

    Blinded by the label with the shirt, but the jeans and the shoes are definitely awesome no matter who they were made by!

  • Betsey

    I think designers purposely toy with everyone, including the who’s-who in the fashion industry, just to see who will be the stupid little lambs and don their latest intentionally hideous rag. I find, at minimum, 50% of the high label designer goods complete rubbish you couldn’t pay me to wear. My mother lived by one motto: buy only what you absolutely love without outside influence and buy it because you could conceivably wear it forever. ~ Truth!

  • Poe

    This piece just made me think of “Killing me Softly”… you are strumming my pain with your fingers… THANK YOU!!! I struggled with this a month ago and my husband just gave me the proverbial pat on the head… I’m so glad I’m not crazy in thinking this is worth conversation. <3 you and cannot wait for your book!