October 29, 2009

The Value of Things

Like everyone else in this economy, I've been scaling back purchases and thinking more about what I'm buying. Taking extra time to buy something means you get to mull over all the different factors of the purchasing decision--it's enough to make someone neurotic. Besides monetary expenses, you need to consider the item's carbon footprint and its sustainability and its ability to be recycled or composted or digested in some way after you're done with it.

Maybe it's better to just have things that last so long, or give so much value, that you're never really done with it. The Atlantic deplored the disposable aesthetic of Ikea furniture this summer, noting that when it comes to Ikea furniture, "...when they break or malfunction, we tend not to fix them. Rather, we buy new ones."

In some regard the consumption of disposable fashion (to wit: H&M/Zara/Topshop/OldNavy in fashion, Ikea in home furnishings, Harbor Freight in tools) makes a lot of sense--why spend $5000 on something that will go out of style in 6 months when $5 (or 50) will do.

But I think the trade thought better of it this year with the "fashion investments" trend. If you can't make it through volume, make your margins on the higher end items.

I think it might be better on all fronts to just spend money wisely on things that will last. Tools and implements are easy--a lot of things never go out of style or cease to function well. Some ideas:

  • Swingaway can opener
  • Spyderco Delica knives
  • Simpson Speed Square

In the fashion world, I'm not so sure. Or maybe things come and go over time, but just take a decade or two to come back into fashion. Some examples:

  • Ray Ban aviator glasses and Wayfarers
  • Clarks Desert Boots
  • the whole skinny jeans thing

So you just need lots of closet space to store things for a decade or two until they come back into fashion. I can't wait until the while "Miami Vice" thing comes back. Finally--get to break out those turquoise tshirts and white suits!

Posted by jameshom at October 29, 2009 02:11 PM | TrackBack
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