See, the thing is, buying a Calvin Klein dress–an actual Calvin Klein and not a knockoff–for $50 just doesn’t seem that lunatic to me. What seems lunatic to me is any woman willing to pay $300 or $1000 or $5000 for a dress just because of a label with the words “Calvin” and “Klein” on it. But that’s just me. And this is not a bait and switch to launch into a rant about how big a racket the fashion industry is. The whole point of this article is to point out the stark and very striking difference between adopting an anti-consumerist philosophy and being expected to own anything nice.
There is no ideological paradox to owning a Calvin Klein dress and taking up arms against the sea of troubles known as the insidious influence of capitalism’s desire to control the world in a way that makes the zombies in all the movies and TV shows these days seem like something to be devoutly wished. Ownership is a way of life and there is nothing wrong with it in theory. Owning a Calvin Klein dress is nothing to be ashamed of either. In theory. Paying more than you need to, on the other hand, well that’s something different. Beyond argument is boasting of having paid $500 for a Calvin Klein when it would be much more heroic to brag of having snagged it for $50. Especially if the Calvin Klein dress in question was made by little slave workers in exotic countries far overseas.
I do know a store where genuine and authentic Calvin Klein dresses can be had for $50 and lower if you have the patience to wait it out and I’m sure many of you do as well. It’s hardly a secret and it is hardly the only place where you can leave both secure in your belief in yourself as part of the crusading army of anti-consumerists trying to take the world back from advertisers and the too-rich and too-fat guys making too good a living off your eager willingness to be ripped off.
Have you ever gotten mad at a vending machine that took your dollar and didn’t provide the product you sought? Remember how mad you got at losing that dollar? When was the last time you got mad for paying full retail price inside an upscale score? You should have. Same situation, except you just got ripped off to the tune of a vending machine taking a dollar from you every hour or even every minute of an hour.
The particular store to which I am referring is part of a chain that, according to location, is going to be called either Beall’s Outlet or Burke’s Outlet. I’m not shilling for them so for all I know they own any number of stores that go by other names and for all I know they also own the very same upscale stores where you are getting ripped off. I’m not shilling for them because I’ll tell you right now if you are used to shopping in the cleanest stores where not a speck of dust is allowed to gather, you will be disappointed. Beall’s and Burke’s are low end stores that are understaffed, feature harsh overhead lighting very hard on the eyes and feature a continuous soundtrack populated with songs that seem to be chosen for the purpose of getting you to leave.
This ain’t Macy’s. Or Saks Fifth Avenue. For which you will be thankful.
How do I know that Calvin Klein dresses as well as other upscale fashion company apparel can routinely be found there for $50 or less? By shopping. I have seen these dresses and, what’s more, I have seen the actual price tag from which they were discounted. I don’t understand the process by which a dress can go from selling in excess of $300 at some store to being discounted to sell at a price below $50 any more than I understand the mindset that thinks paying $300 to $500 for a Calvin Klein dress is a great deal. And I’m not supposed to. And neither are you. It is supposed to remain a mystery to us how even as much one dollar of profit can come from selling the very same article of clothing in one store for as much as 90% less than it costs in another store. That’s the whole point of the game. Diverting attention from the underlying reality that anyone who pays the 90% extra is the equivalent of that kid from the hicks who arrives in New York and is convinced he can double the money in his pocket by finding the lady in a little game known as three card monte.
Calvin Klein and the rest of the fashion industry biggies who are in a state of constantly switching the cards and asking you to find the lady are absolutely convinced that everyone can be fooled every time. The truth is that the lady can be found. But not by choosing have the card emblazoned with Saks Fifth Avenue lifted. At least not for most of us. Of course, I understand that Saks is where the lady will be joyously overturned by that select few making even more money than the fashion industry bigwigs and so don’t mind one single bit about being ripped off in their game. I don’t understand the mechanics of psychological impairment that would drive any woman–even a millionaire–to plunk down $2000 for a handbag, but apparently this is something that can and does happen or else nobody at the level of madness would ever find the lady.
What I do understand is the quality of a Calvin Klein. I understood the quality of Calvin Klein even prior to hearing Alicia Silverstone’s lilting voice justifying the expense of the dress she was wearing to her dad in “Clueless” by saying, “it’s a Calvin Klein.” I get the difference between Calvin Klein and Wrangler. I understand that. I still don’t get seeing a price of $300 as a bargain for not much more material than it takes to make a matching pair of king sized pillowcases, but in my apprehension of the value of owning a genuine Calvin Klein, I am mature enough in the sphere of capitalism to recognize that Beall’s Outlet or Burke’s Outlet is providing a hell of a bargain in cutting the price of an authentic–and I must insist once again, a very fashionable piece of clothing in most cases–Calvin Klein to below $50.
If you are willing to wait it out and hope that fellow Beall’s Outlet or Burke’s Outlet shoppers find even $50 too expensive, then you may just be able to come home one day with a genuine Calvin Klein for the startlingly low rock bottom price of less than $10. It is possible to leave a store with a Calvin Klein, your self-respect and your commitment to anti-consumerism intact. Just as long as you boast even more loudly about the low price you paid.
And if you still remain convinced that it is worth paying $500 for the very same dress that can be bought elsewhere for $50, then here is what you should do the next time you get ripped off by a vending machine. Find the nearest ATM and draw out 10% of your holdings. Go back to the vending machine and keep feeding the bills in until you are done. Do not actually take possession of any merchandise contained within. That would remove the exercise of its very point.