Pick any college campus in almost any area, and you will find students in Yves St. Laurent sweaters and Gucci loafers. Chanel and Louis Vuttion handbags adorn the arms of many a collegiate young woman. Everybody is wearing them. But the question is, have luxury goods gone from a reward for hard work or a payment for success to an everyday necessity designed to reinforce our status, or lack thereof?
While the conceptual relationship between status and luxury goods appear the same across all races, all communities and all cultures, the question arises, are young Americans developing these relationships prematurely.
After graduating college and beginning the transformation from having a job to developing a career, I felt that it was no more than I deserved to reward myself with a brand new sparkling white BMW.
So I did just that. I went into the dealership and came out with almost exactly what I wanted (the first option was a cream interior but, I settled for black). This brand new2008 BMW, as I saw it, would play a huge role in the way my colleagues approached me, perhaps it would maybe even be the difference between being awarded a project or losing out on one.
Three years later, I am more than excited to end my lease and actually save the extra money I have been paying in “luxury tax,” understanding that while presentation is a key element to becoming who you aspire to be, it will mean nothing, if you are not financially free once you arrive.
As someone working in the fashion industry, I often see young affluent African American women in my age bracket in Christian Loubitins (the newest luxury woman’s shoe craze), and wonder in trying times such as these, when job security is no longer available, just how much of their paychecks are going to support these habits rather than their future.
Then again, I am no different. In my closet, you will find Philip Lim dresses, Alexander Wang leather jackets and shoes made by Italian designers. Although, there are many women who have arrived–and are gracefully gliding down Wall Street into skyscrapers to settle in their offices that overlook what almost seems like the world–there are many of us who still aspire to attain those offices, positions and accolades but already live the life. They have the wardrobes, enjoy New Years in St. Barts, summer in the Hamptons and dine at the same high-end restaurants. And they do it all without the expense accounts but live a financially crunched life.
In an article written for Clutch Magazine Leslie Pettierson suggests that, “We would rather not eat than go without the boots we want; we’d rather pay it back with interest than wait till we can afford it; we would rather have Facebook pictures full of memories from trips we cannot afford. Because it is only a small price to pay. We are buying the image we want instead of working to attain the lifestyle to support it.”
As a member of Generation Y, where we are not as familiar with hard work as we are with getting the results we want, everything is literally a click away. The concept of hard work has a age limit in our minds, and it is more often than not the mid 30’s. We all aspire to be our own bosses, presidents of our own companies and leaders of our own future, but how will we ever achieve that, if we purchase the awards that should be the direct results of success that has yet to be achieved.
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