Thursday, August 31, 2006

Brand Name Whores

I remember when my mother bought me my first pair of Chuck Taylor’s. I was thrilled to have a shoe with a man’s name written on it. I remember when I purchased my first pair of jeans. They were Levi’s. I remember when I had to have a Member’s Only jacket. I remember when I first saw that small alligator on a bright red shirt. I remember telling one of my boys, “Man, these are Calvin Klein jeans. They cost $50.”

Jeans, shirts, jackets, and shoes. My outfit was always “complete”. All name brands. We were not calling the items designer then. All I knew was that I wanted some white man’s name on my clothing. When I think about this, I am so surprised that I was so asinine. Even shopping at
K-mart and Zayres was a no-no for me when I began working to make my own loot. Unlike the average millennium generation teenager, I started working at 13. I made full use of my worker’s permit.

Trying to keep up with the latest clothing trends is a lost cause for me. I just can’t keep up! I typically have stupid questions for my nephew such as, what jeans are cool to wear, who is the top designer out there, and whose shoe is the coolest to wear? These are my questions, and the response I receive from my nephew is, “Uncle Brian, you need to get down with da fashion.” However, this is the same kid who begs me to help him purchase a pair of shoes at the beginning of each school year. I hate to get this request because I know I will have to dish out at least $100 so he can sport Carmelo’s, Lebron’s, or Jordan’s shoe. One hundred dollars for a shoe that he never laces-up. They are always untied with a big shock behind the shoe tongue. Ridiculous!

This year would have been different for me if I would have known Stephon Marbury released his signature shoe. I was so disappointed that I was unable to share with my nephew that I would purchase his shoes only if he allowed me to select the shoe. You see, Mr. Marbury is the first professional basketball player in years to endorse a shoe that cost less than $15. Yes, FIFTHTEEN GEORGE WASHINGTON’S. He is also saying the only difference in his shoe is the name. He stands behind his most recent statement (while being interviewed by an ESPN reporter): “How many times are you going to ask me the same question? I told you my shoe is of the same quality as all those other shoes.” Hearing this was a shock to me considering Jordan’s, Lebron’s, and Carmelo’s shoes are well over $100.

Of course my first inclination was to call my nephew and offer to buy him a pair. Boy, was I smacked in the face with his response: “Uncle Brian, ain’t nobody going to wear that cheap shoe!” The comment definitely upset me, but I was able to explain a few things to my nephew after I unleashed a tongue lashing on him. As I moved on to address another matter with my nephew, something hit me. I was reminded of myself when I was his age. I was young, greedy, and extremely ostentatious. Like me then, my nephew is only displaying behavior that has been encouraged and accepted in the black community for years.

Yes, we are foolishly infatuated with a name. So much so, we will spend our last dollar on the most expensive clothing item. I have said it before, no one is exploiting us. We do a darn good job of that ourselves. Just go to the mall the day of a NBA player’s shoe release. Finish Line is jam packed with black people (parents and teenagers) waiting to fork over their utility bill money.

It is too bad Stephon's efforts will not be successful in the black community. I wish he had the foresight to understand this. Evidently, he did not evaluate the past spending and purchasing history of black America. All he had to do was drive through the Bronx and Harlem. The bling-bling is everywhere. High dollar shoes, grills, spinners, and anything else that attracts the attention we need to feel worthy.

We are slaves and whores to the Polo and Hilfiger brands and viewed as fools by Ralph and Tommy.

Guess whose name is written across the shirt I was wearing as I typed this commentary?:
Calvin Klein! Hey, I did include myself by using “we”.

If you are interested in supporting Stephon Marbury please visit this website:

Written by Muata. Inspired by JJ Steele.


FREEDOM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FREEDOM said...

Forget Polo and Hilfiger; black people(minorities) have gone HIP-HOP! We, are no longer just giving our money away to a white man’s label. We, have our own pimps now! We, have Sean John, Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Apple Bottom, Rocawear, G-Unit, Enyce, Ecko, JLo, Bebe, and Southpole; hey we are doing it, doing it !! So, move over Tommy and Calvin the black community will no longer be your WHORE. We, rather be whores to our own people.

The only good thing is that there are stores that will allow us to afford these luxuries at a cheaper price. Yes, you guessed it! Thank God, for Value City, Citi Trends, T J Maxx, and Ross. These stores allow you to keep up with the Jones’ without spending the same price as in department stores. How wonderful is that? Now, we can stay FLY till we die, without spending all of our light bill money!

Muata said...

Reader Response:

You are quite a talented writer. Although I don't always agree with you but your pieces are quite thought provoking and allows me to see another side of someone else's views.

I can relate to this particularly piece one because I have a high school age brother and also because I have a young son. I always make sure my son looks nice but the name or logo that appears on the clothing is and will never be a determination for me to spend money for it. I also try to instill in him that clothing doesn't define you. I know he is young (merely 7 years old) but I would rather we (his parents) instill these values in him and have him ignore us than to have someone in the outside world do it for us. By the way, Shaq makes a sneaker that is sold in Payless for around $15-$19. I bought them one summer for my son. Get this, my son is quite active but in comparison to Nike & Reebok, which he destroys all the time, he couldn't even snag these sneakers.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

I am so sick and tired of black folk being fools. Will we ever learn?


Thanks for sharing the information on Stephon Marbury’s shoes. I have actually followed his basketball career since he was in college.

I clicked on the website and I really like the black pair of sneakers that he has. I e-mail them to see if I could purchase these shoes from any sporting wear store. I may consider purchasing a pair for both of my sons.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

It's funny! I lived in Liberia for 6 years and upon returning to the states at 9 years old, I had nothing in my wardrobe but skirts and outfits that were mostly made by my mother...she did a good job:-

Nonetheless our whole integration back into American society was a trip. It wasn't long before my sister & I developed a desire to have Guess, Polo, Hilfiger, Coach, Dooney & Burke and every other hot brand out there. By high school I was a straight up tomboy (in dress only). I wore k-swiss, polo, hilfiger and nautica like everyday... complete outfits! It really became part of my m.o. as it carried on thru and finally ended my freshman year in college. Thank God!

I can only laugh at myself... and it's so funny to me. I did a complete 360 and was introduced to heels when I ran for sophomore attendant to ms. famu. I spent my whole sophomore year in heels and now I hardly ever kick the k-swiss. My taste & style is quite different now and I'm just a different person. I'd support Stephon's shoes....a few of them look cool to me. When I look at how my sis still carries on with her now addiction to hot brands...I can tell, I have saved a lot of $$ by letting that go.

Again, I thank God for my evolution and deliverance....I'm free at last! peaceNlove


Muata said...

Reader Response:

This was exactly what I hoped you would write about...

You gave us a little bit of your own past and present experiences with infatuation of brand names,
and you gave me a different view point of how your nephew and his generation would react to Marbury’s affordable product.

Overall, I loved this commentary because it was just brutally honest! Our people want change, but refuse to take any risks to ensure that we become economically responsible!

Thanks for addressing this topic!


Muata said...

Muata responds to Blow:


I try to tell it like I see it!

Most of the time I think I am on point with my analysis and opinions. And, if I am not, I TRULY want someone to challenge, criticize, and/or debate with me. Being open in this manner will only generate more thought and understanding.

I am only sharing my experiences and fusing in my understanding of the selceted topics.


FREEDOM said...

My Goddaughter is three years old. Every since she was born her dad has brought her ONLY name brand clothes. Her mother has tried to tell him time and time again, that he can make better use of ALL the money he is spending on a couple outfits. He refuses to listen. His child, has to be dressed in the latest name brand clothing.

First, any parent knows that a small child will out grow these clothes quickly. Therefore, he is wasting his money. She could have several cute outfits for the same price he is spending on just a couple of outfits. Also, he is not taking advantage of the discount stores; he is going straight to the mall. He is spending hundreds of dollars for what? She is only three. Crazy!