According to Featherstone, habitus is not only unconsciously handed down to us through specifications of culture and social status, but is also shaped and maintained through conscious choices. Due to modernization, we do not have fixed social group of people who are bound with a specific habitus, and Featherstone claims that such “end of the deterministic relationship between society and culture heralds the triumph of signifying culture” (56). He redefines lifestyles and consumption as an “autonomous playful space beyond determination,” in which we can select the things and the ways we consume to signify ourselves in a desirable way (56). This point brings back an interesting post written by ericcsmt13 about logos and how we often identify ourselves with “monograms and logos” that we “sport.” In his discussion of logos, he also highlights that there is a “connection that exists dependent on a common connection of consumed product, goods or services.” Certainly, in the modern society, we establish connections beyond social hierarchies through consumption and lifestyle, and logos play a major role in signifying our consumption culture and lifestyle. This connection around logos, however, is often interfered by the fake market, which produces imitation brand products that use designer logos on inauthentic goods.

I grew up in Beijing, where fake goods are prevalent at local markets and malls. Naturally, I grew up wearing a bit of fake goods because these markets offered low cost options compared to department stores with overpriced products, and as a foreigner living in Beijing, I had not much knowledge of shopping options other than these two. For me, however, I wasn’t exactly wearing “fake” goods. At markets, they did not only sell imitation products; they generally had cheap, low quality goods that were not branded. I had no regard to the logos at all, and it was more about picking the right design amongst a wide variety of designs, and it was much later when I realized a lot of the clothes I was wearing were fake “Hollister” and fake “Seven jeans for all mankind.” For the tourists, and many grown ups in Beijing, however, these markets did not just offer affordable goods; they offered affordable “Louis Vuitton,” “Chanel,” and “Tiffany and Co.” It allowed people to be a part of the “new petit bourgeois,” which Featherstone claims is a “pretender, aspiring to more than he is, who adopts an investment orientation to life” (65). The fake goods with designer logos allow people to “pretend” that they are immersed in whatever lifestyle that the authentic goods that they imitate are associated with. Whether it can be said that they would have truly achieved their desired lifestyles through low cost but fake options of luxury designer brand goods remains a question.

I found a haul video on fake goods, and this Fake fashion haul video spotlights a case in which consumption of fake designer goods does not necessarily connect the consumer with other consumers who identify themselves with the same brand logos.

 

The uploader shellbarbie shows us several scarves and sunglasses she bought from a website that sells imitation goods. These products branded with Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Rayban logos are of similar style to the original products, but the price ranges from 10 to 30 Australian dollars, (which are about the same in US dollars). She declares that she doesn’t “buy anything over 80 bucks” because she thinks it is a “waste of money,” so obviously she does not match the economic capital with the people who would identify with the brand logos. She also seems to lack the cultural capital associated with the brands because she simply evaluates the items with infinite remarks of “cool” and “cute,” and she also admits that she is not a “designer product person,” that she doesn’t appreciate the brand narratives that some other people who would identify with these logos. This case seems to be relevant to Featherstone’s statement that a new petit bourgeois “is always in danger of knowing too much or too little, in contrast to the ease and confidence which the bourgeois displays in using symbolic capital acquired ‘naturally’ and unconsciously, which produces a sense of confidence in the appropriateness of his tastes” (65).

Now the fake market in Beijing is a little different. because the issue of artistic property emerged to be a more serious problem as China became more involved in the global economy, they no longer have real fake goods. By that I mean, they still have fake goods, but they are nothing more than a logo now. They no longer produce identical duplicates of the designer goods, so all they do now is manufacture a product in a similar style to whatever brand, and simply attach a logo to it. When I went to Beijing, I saw a man shopping for a bag, and when he said “Hm, I like this simple design, but I really am not a fan of Ferragamo,” the shop owner took out 4 other bags of the same design, just branded with different logos. Perhaps the this can be seen as the result of the bourgeois attempt to resist the pretenders’ movement of cultural democratization and maintain their social status.

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