This is dawn of the spectacle society. The self-constructed lifestyle. The person-as-brand. In a world where symbolism and representation triumph above all, clothes no longer have use, exchange, even material value – their sole purpose is to create an image, evoke a style. Of course, not all clothes serve this purpose. Discount t-shirts, socks in bulk, the clothes lining the wholesale warehouses – often times, clothes are all about use and exchange value – how expensive something is important to whether or not a person will consume, and a good’s durability is valued higher than its aesthetic beauty.

But not for this haul video by Youtube user JoeyGraceffa. With barely contained excitement and a high definition camera, Joey leads his viewers (of which he happens to have a million subscribers to his channel) on a romp through his latest shopping spree, displaying new purchases at Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and Topman. Sadly for Joey, he didn’t manage to go to All Saints. But all of these stores are nearer the upper end of the market in terms of price.

This is worth noting, because throughout his whole video, he never once mentions the actual amount of money he spent on his clothes. This is interesting, since what then is the audience expected to receive? Perhaps commentary on the clothes’ quality? But that, too, goes unmentioned. Fabric, materials, stitching – all aspects of the manufacture of the clothes are omitted. As is the clothes’ economic costs.

instead, Joey decides to focus on the appearance of his newfound clothes. He talks about how the clothes look on him, how he ‘feels’ about the clothes – and his affinity for stripes. In this haul video, and most likely in his life, clothes are about casting an impression – painting a portrait. Whether they were manufactured in the U.S. under stringent labor laws or a Bangladeshi factory which has recently collapsed is irrelevant. And the omission of the clothes’ prices leads one to think that perhaps Joey simply assumes everyone can relate to a shopping spree through a largely upscale series of stores.

It’s interesting to note that about halfway through the video, Joey says he feels “stupid” making the video, but he enthusiastically continues anyway. It’s difficult to discern, however, why he thinks making the video is stupid. He does mention that he has never done a haul video before, and is uncertain what to do – implying there is some correct form of haul video, and perhaps betraying that he has little capital in the haul video culture.

Of course, that doesn’t deter him. In the fashion of many other vloggers and Youtube celebrities, he cuts the video frequently and overlays his voice onto other footage (mostly of him posing and flexing his muscles) to – what I can only assume – capture people’s rapidly diminishing attention span. His personality is quite lively, and he has quirks and habits of speaking that appear to be hallmarks of his channel, his personal brand – possibly even his lifestyle.

Perhaps it’s his exuberant personality, the quality of the camera, and the muscles Joey makes – but I have to wonder, in the absence of any content in this haul video about the clothes (other than how they fit and appear on Joey), why nearly 300,000 people have watched this video.

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