Get real

Fakes are a dime a dozen, so much so that even when you’re wear­ing the real thing, most folks will think it’s fake.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - MARY SCHNEIDER

MANY years ago, way back when man wasn’t uni­ver­sally ob­sessed with branded goods em­bla­zoned with a de­signer’s name in huge shiny letters that leap out of your chest, your der­rière, or your crotch, a good friend paid an in­sane amount of money for a de­signer T-shirt.

Now this T-shirt, let’s call it a Pierre Cher, was noth­ing much to look at. In­deed, it didn’t look any dif­fer­ent from the T-shirts I usu­ally bought for a frac­tion of the price from my lo­cal depart­ment store. But therein lay the prob­lem. You see, my friend felt cheated by the thought that no one would be able to tell that her Pierre Cher T-shirt was more ex­pen­sive than my Jusco num­ber. A few days af­ter the T-shirt’s pre­miere, I bumped into my friend again.

She was still wear­ing her Pierre Cher (try­ing to get her money’s worth out of it, I sus­pect), but this time there was some­thing dif­fer­ent about it: a la­bel bear­ing the de­signer’s name was neatly sewn across her left breast. “I didn’t no­tice that la­bel be­fore,” I said.

“It wasn’t there be­fore,” she said. “I felt bad that no one would know that this is a Pierre Cher, so I re­moved the la­bel from the in­side of the neck – and voila!” “Isn’t that a bit ex­treme?” “Not at all. It’s all about the pres­tige and be­ing no­ticed. You wouldn’t buy a Rolex watch, and then keep it tucked un­der your sleeve. Or pur­chase a Mercedes, only to drive around in it af­ter dark.”

“But pres­tige only works if I’m a brand snob, too. If I’m not, I won’t be im­pressed by your T-shirt. I’ll just think that you paid way too much for a piece of cot­ton and spent way too much time sewing a la­bel onto it for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers.”

Of course, that was way back in the dark ages, way be­fore de­sign­ers be­gan mak­ing ca­sual clothes that peo­ple can ac­tu­ally wear.

These days, de­signer la­bels are ev­ery­where. Go to any shop­ping mall and you’ll see fashion slaves be­ing used as free ad­ver­tis­ing. Ev­ery time a young man wears his Calvin Klein un­der­wear with the branded waist­band peek­ing out over the top of his trousers for all to see, Mr Klein’s cash reg­is­ter goes kach­ing!

Ev­ery time a young girl wears a Tshirt with D&G em­bla­zoned across the front us­ing enough bling to blind you, Messrs Dolce and Gab­bana high­five each other and won­der how many dif­fer­ent ways they can ap­ply their ini­tials to a teensy bit of fab­ric churned out of a fac­tory in Viet­nam for a few dong.

Of course, brand pres­tige takes a bit of a beat­ing in coun­tries like Malaysia, where many of the de­signer clothes and ac­ces­sories worn by la­bel-minded peo­ple are knock-offs. You only need to visit Pe­nang’s fa­mous Batu Fer­ringhi night mar­ket to see that there is a huge de­mand for fake goods, and not just with lo­cal peo­ple. Many western­ers re­turn from their beach hol­i­day in Pe­nang with Gior­gio Ar­mani, Moschino and Gucci stuffed in their suit­cases, all pur­chased for less than the price of a cup of de­signer cof­fee back home.

Heck, even the mother of the man who fries the best char kway teow in Pe­nang wears de­signer T-shirts. Her face may be lined, her hair grey and her teeth set in her shrink­ing gums like ran­dom peanuts stand­ing to wob­bly at­ten­tion, but she wears the same T-shirts as Paris Hil­ton and Madonna as she at­tends to cus­tomers at her son’s cof­fee shop stall.

She can’t even pro­nounce the name “Ver­sace” cor­rectly or tell you that Chanel is French, but she’ll wear those T-shirts un­til she can’t get any more wear out of them.

This must surely have di­luted the de­mand for orig­i­nal de­signer goods in Malaysia. I mean to say, why would you fork out hun­dreds of ring­git for that branded T-shirt you saw in the shop­ping mall the other day when your maid prob­a­bly has an al­most iden­ti­cal one – in four colours?

There are so many fakes around these days, that even when you’re wear­ing the real thing, most folks will think it’s fake. I mean to say, you can’t even wear your over-priced garb to the cof­fee shop with­out run­ning the risk of the char kway teow woman point­ing out that you’re wear­ing the same T-shirt as her.

“Buy one, free one?” she’ll say, as she gives you the thumbs up sign be­tween wrap­ping fried noo­dles in yes­ter­day’s news­pa­per.

Like, where got class lah?

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