Are you obsessed with brand names?

by Erika Torres

jeansBack in my ignorant youth (you know, like less than five years ago), I used to be obsessed with brand names.

There wasn’t a brand name I didn’t like. I would go through phases where I would buy a lot of brand names for one particular item, like sunglasses, before I moved on to my next brand name item obsession, like jeans.

I remember at one particularly low point, waiting in line at a nordstroms, prepared to spend close to $400 on a pair of Rock and Republic jeans–and the thing is, I didn’t even LIKE the jeans that much, they didn’t fit quite right–but I was addicted to having that brand name.

My brand name jean obsession was ruthless–I wouldn’t even look at a pair of non-brand name jeans. Gap? Puh-leaze. I acquired more jeans than I could wear on a regular rotation. Seven for all Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Joe’s Jeans: I wanted them all.

And another embarrassing factor, that I really can’t believe I’m about to share, but I wouldn’t buy the jeans unless the brand was prominently displayed on the ass. You know what I’m talking about. All those designer jeans have some defining mark splashed across your butt that lets everyone know: “I’m the dumbass who spent $200 on a pair of jeans.”

After my jeans phase, I started on sunglasses. I bought three pairs of brand name sunglasses. But, everyone knows I’m notorious for being clumsy and breaking things. I would either break them or lose them. And spend another several hundred to replace them. This went on for a while.

Honestly, my obsession with brand names didn’t end until I got married. And it took me a little while to wean myself off. Back when I was single, I used to go shopping at the mall all the time; now, it takes Christmas or a special occasion to make myself set foot inside of one. My wallet and sanity have both thanked me.

Looking back now, I know that my obsession with brand names stemmed from my own insecurity of feeling like I was less than others. Many people in Orange County, CA come from affluent backgrounds. Brand name cars fill the streets. By being able to at least dress the part with my brand names jeans, sunglasses and purse, I felt like I could fit in.

After I got married, I had to admit to myself that I could no longer afford these items. And to be honest, I could have paid off my loans a lot earlier had I not spent so much money on material items.

It’s been more than three years since I bought a pair of designer jeans. My favorite jean that I wear now are actually from the Gap. Go figure.

Losing the ability to afford high-end items made me take a hard look at myself. Living in a shack and having to invite our friends over took a LOT from me, because I had to really suck in my pride and admit that this was the best that we could afford, that we had to make sacrifices for our financial well-being.

These days I am more obsessed with saving money than spending money. Whenever I get a compliment on something I’m wearing, I say with pride “TJ Maxx, $10!” or “I got it at a thrift store for $20!” Our new place is filled with a mixture of second-hand items and cheap finds and I’m not at all embarrassed. Our sectional couch? $150 on Craigslist.

When I see someone driving an older car, I always think something to the effect of: “How awesome of them for being so frugal and not giving in to peer pressure to purchase a high-end expensive car!”

To me, being frugal is the new brand-name obsession.

I’m happy with how far I’ve come and how much progress we have made in the past three years.

Are you a brand name fanatic? Do you believe that frugal is the new cool?

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Taiwo Hassan April 6, 2015 - 4:34 am

Where do buy this jeans please???

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Nichole C March 11, 2013 - 6:07 pm

I’d have to agree that being frugal is the new obsession. I still like nice things and brand names but not obsessed with keeping up like the ol’ days. It’s not worth it, and I love the thrill from finding a great deal!

David Carlson March 10, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Sometimes I care about brand names, mainly if they have a reputation for high quality. At the same time, I do like to save money on clothes (though I hate when cheap clothes fall apart/fade/etc. after a short period of time) and many of my friends proudly say how little they spent on this or that piece of clothing when they receive a compliment about something new they are wearing.

The Norwegian Girl March 10, 2013 - 2:20 pm

I`m not a brand fanatic, never has been, but there are certain brands of good quality I do prefer, especially when it comes to shoes. So far I`ve sticked to one particular brand of shoes which is the only brand that has decent heels that I can use without getting terrible pains in my legs and knees.

Alexis Marlons March 10, 2013 - 9:26 am

When I was younger, I admit I was so obsessed with brand names. But as I got older, I’ve learned that it is more on how you carry yourself.

Teacher Girl March 7, 2013 - 4:50 pm

I’ve never been obsessed with brand names, but I used to shop a ton. I would buy from places like the GAP, but I would buy a lot of stuff and spend several hundred dollars regularly. I was trying to keep up with all my rich friends at my private college. I graduated with a scary amount of credit card debt a closet full of too many clothes and shoes.

I’ve since paid off those cards and vastly curtailed my shopping. I sort of hate myself for all that money I wasted, but you live and learn.

Ariel March 7, 2013 - 4:25 pm

I adore Coach, but that’s about the only brand I buy religiously. Shopping vice!

Michelle's Finance Journal March 6, 2013 - 8:26 pm

Although I like brand and designer names, I know what I can afford and in this case, I know what I can’t afford. So I don’t even window shop. What’s the point of my eyes and taste getting accustomed to these things if I can’t get them anyway? My biggest thing is the fit. I’m petite and I don’t have much volume, so it’s so hard to find pants that fit.

Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian March 6, 2013 - 1:06 pm

It’s funny – I never ever used to want to spend more money than necessary on anything, so I would always find the best deals I could and never wanted to purchase anything with a big designer name. I just didn’t want to spend the money! But in the past few years, I started splurging on just a few pieces, and my main obsession is purses. Even now though, I only spend that kind of money on fashion very rarely. This is the way I see it: I spend so little money on myself on a regular basis that when I do, it’s okay if I go a little overboard.

Sara March 6, 2013 - 7:50 am

Meh. I’m with Well-Heeled. I return to the same stores for fit and quality. And while I often wear brand name clothing, I’ve never been one for upscale designers.

Well Heeled Blog March 5, 2013 - 3:07 pm

Not obsessed with brand names, but I do have brands that I really like because I can 1. count on their quality, and 2. count on their sizing (for clothes). So I’m willing to pay a little extra for that peace of mind.

Michelle March 5, 2013 - 2:15 pm

I don’t care about brand names at all. Wes on the other hand is obsessed. If it’s a brand that would be sold at REI, then he will buy it.

Mo' Money Mo' Houses March 5, 2013 - 12:43 pm

For the most part no, but when I was in Thailand there were so many market stalls filled with brand name aka knock off sunglasses, jeans, purses, you name it, and I couldn’t resist getting some raybans just because they said rayban on the side. Whatever, they only cost me $3, but I totally just bought them for the logo.

kim March 5, 2013 - 9:30 am

I heard Val Oxlade say designer is for people who are too insecure to make their own choices. I think I agree. That said I am not immune! In middle school it was Guess, HS polo, college Oakley sunglasses. I do pay slightly more for jeans that don’t stretch too much…but not $200!

CeCe @Frugalista Married March 5, 2013 - 8:29 am

I’ve never been a name brand fanatic but I know that feeling of wanting to fit in. I went to a private school back east for a semester in college and those girls were RICH! I couldn’t afford brand names but I did go shopping to find more clothes to try to fit in…even if it was just Marshall’s! I do still buy designer jeans just because the ones I’ve found fit me the best and feel the best on. Joe’s. If I couldn’t tell a difference for me I wouldn’t spend the money. That’s my major indulgence on a brand name. Glad you came to your senses and realized that those names don’t matter. Let everyone else chase brand names and spend too much money.

SavvyFinancialLatina March 5, 2013 - 7:14 am

I’m not stuck with the brand name obsession. I am a value shopper. I buy quality items for a good price. I could never buy $200 jeans.

Although, I did buy a $250 Coach purse last year. It was so awesome and I loved it. It was on sale and I got it for 50%. It’s a very classic coach purse too. But now I don’t use it.

Stevie March 4, 2013 - 7:58 pm

I have never been super obsessed with brand names, and the ones that I do buy I still try to get on the cheap (like the pair of brand new 7 jeans with the tags still on that I got on ebay for $14) 🙂

I do most of my shopping at TJ Maxx, Ross, Nordstrom Rack, etc. and if I buy at a department store or other retail store (like Gap, Banana Republic, etc) I never, EVER pay full price for anything. I also shop at thrift stores. I would much rather pay five bucks for something unique, than a hundred bucks (or more) for something that everyone else has.

shannon March 4, 2013 - 7:51 pm

Good for you! I think we all go through that younger phase where the name brand is everything. I just can’t swing it and I would much rather see a bigger savings account that $200 jeans on my ass:)

Tina @ My Shiny Pennies March 4, 2013 - 5:58 pm

I had a post the other day about my former obsession with Coach purses so yes, I used to be obsessed with brand names. 🙂 I feel much freer now wearing non name brand stuff knowing I’m saving money, and I don’t have to worry about being upset over a ruined pair of expensive jeans.

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 4, 2013 - 5:53 pm

I’m like KrantCents – for me it’s all about the quality of the clothes/accessory and prefer if there’s no logo on it at all. After all, why do I want to advertise for a company, and who knows if that company is going to be popular in 10 years when I still want to be wearing the shirt!
I like things that last a while, having to go shopping for clothes is such a time sink I try and do it as little as possible. =)

krantcents March 4, 2013 - 5:16 pm

I am a value buyer! I want the quality of a brand, but heavily discounted (50% or more). I am usually a discount shopper who frequents Marshall’s and the like. I also buy some things online.

One Frugal Girl March 4, 2013 - 5:15 pm

I’m happy to say I haven’t had a problem with brand name obsessions since middle school. Back then I was obsessed with Guess jeans. By high school I realized my jeans really didn’t matter. Plus is seemed like the snobby girls always wore brand names, which for me was all the reason NOT to wear them 🙂 Good for you for giving up the obsession. If your ass looked amazing in $400 jeans I might say splurge every once in awhile, but if they look worse than the $40 pair then there is really no reason to buy them.

Sophie March 4, 2013 - 5:04 pm

A lot of my age group (mid twenties) is still stuck in the brand name obsession… so I try to keep quiet when they’re comparing expensive purchases. They wouldn’t appreciate my advice on why they should be saving that money instead 😛


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