The whole point of buying luxury goods, most of the time, is to show them off. You pick up your Louis Vuitton and head to the hair salon so all of the other patrons can get a glimpse of the trademarked monogrammed pattern. Of course, you can’t go anywhere without your Burberry coat with the traditional Burberry plaid that says, “Hey! Look at me! I have nice things!” Why else would someone buy something, right? The saying goes that women don’t dress to impress men, they dress to impress other women (and for themselves).

This could not be any truer for the category of consumers that we have deemed ‘snobs.’ These people only willing consume highbrow culture and goods. They will steer clear of stores such as Forever 21, H&M, and even middle-tier retailers such as American Eagle and perhaps even J. Crew. Those are all beneath them. Of course, this often comes with a hefty price tag. With exclusivity comes a way that keeps it exclusive. Many times, this is not actually taste. More often than not, the thing that keeps certain brands exclusive is the price they charge. This price, determined by what a consumer is willing to pay, is the exchange value. Based upon this, it seems that although many consumers who are ‘snobs’ don’t love spending the money to attain highbrow goods, it is a necessity for them to remain snobs. In order to remain part of the elite group, they have to make these brands and their goods so sought after that the exchange value rises, allowing only themselves to actually purchase the goods. It seems to be a cycle.

 

 

In line with this, I have analyzed a haul video posted by a woman whose username is “sony elenty.” She has a couple hundred videos, and this one in particular she “wanted to get this done before [she] took off [her] makeup.” Sonya is a snob by Bordieu’s definition. Everything she has ‘hauled’ is top-of-the-line designer brands. From Tori Burch to Jimmy Choo, she has not purchased anything a consumer of today would not consider highbrow. One of the most telling signs that she is a snob, and she does it intentionally, is that she brings up brand logos a lot. When discussing her first purchase, a Tori Burch wallet, she emphasizes the places where the iconic gold Tori Burch logo can be seen. She does the same with the makeup bag she purchase from Tori Burch as well, contrasting that logo placement to that of the Louis Vuitton logo patterned leather. She emphasizes the brand of each purchase, and for her Jimmy Choo boots, she even point the camera directly inside the boot to show the viewer the label on the inner heel. In fact, I would go so far as to say the items she purchased have little or no design element to them. The Tori Burch wallet is plain black with the typical layout of change purse in the middle with card holders on either side, and the makeup bag is plain black patent leather with a huge black patent leather logo stitched onto the front. The logo is the design element. Thus, she may e buying for the design element as you and I would be, but the design element she seeks is a brand logo denoting worth.

Many people may view Sonya as a cultural intermediary, and perhaps she is. She takes highbrow fashion, selects particular pieces, and displays and presents these choices to the lesser people who may be on YouTube. However, I cannot be sure. I cannot be sure she possesses any cultural capital beyond owning the items. Sonya does not go into how we could use the items, or what we could pair them with. She may understand, but I cannot assume she has the cultural capital to lend us her expertise. In that respect, is she a cultural intermediary, or is she just a consumer? She has curated these pieces for us, however, is she translating for us what highbrow fashion is? I am not completely sure. It seems to me that just because a consumer has chosen to have a particular taste and to display that, does not necessarily mean she is translating highbrow culture and fashion for those of us who are not ‘snobs.’ She has clearly defined her own consumer identity, but I am not sure that it much more than her doing just that: defining her own identity.

Not only this, but as we have discussed in previous classes, Sonya has used shopping as an outlet. She has turned shopping into a producer. In the very beginning of the video, Sonya says that she took to the stores because she took a “nasty spill.” She claims she doesn’t really want to get into the details, yet dives into them anyways. Her friend, while trying to break her fall down stairs, “busted her lip,” (“…so no, [she] didn’t get anything done!”) and she also “scraped [her] knee and totally scraped [her] shin up.” This, of course, puts her in a bad mood, and she take to the retailers to make her feel better. This shopping venture now turns into the producer. It is able to produce pleasure for Sonya when she was feeling down because she fell. Yet another problem that can be fixed, and we should fix, with “retail therapy.”

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