I took my family to Disney World a couple of weeks ago, and got to see a sizable swath of "Average Americans" all in one spot. I don't get much of a chance to observe Americanus Suburbanus very often; I avoid malls, and other places the species congregates, if at all possible.
I realized we are a nation obsessed with labels. Not just the political labels we like to hurl about. "Socialist" "Fascist" or sometimes both seem to be particularly popular these days. But clothing labels. I didn't see a plain tee-shirt all week. Each one was emblazoned with the "designer's" name in large letters across the front, often repeating it in smaller letters on the back in case we forgot while they passed.
Designer's weren't the only ones capable of duping the unsuspecting herds into purchasing a $0.50 swatch of 50/50 blend with someone else's name on it for exorbitant amounts. Hollister, store and clothing line that seems to attempt an invocation of rebellion, based on the small CA town falsely celebrated for its 1947 "riot" by the film "The Wild One" was a frequent offender. Unfortunately the clothing line mostly succeeds in producing cheap cotton-blend crap in shades not seen since the walls of my Junior High School.
Decorated, of course, with the word "Hollister" in large block print everywhere visible.
I wasn't immune to the pressure to dress "like everybody else" as a teenager, so I understand and can even empathize with "the kids". A majority of the "labelitis" was perpetrated by the parents. People my age and older, tooling a toddler in a designer stroller, wearing a Perry Ellis hat, Ralph Lauren tee-shirt, Tommy Hilfiger jeans, and Nike sneakers. A walking advertisement. Not in discreet, alligator in the pocket, style but a billboard. 48 point font across the man-boobs. An embarrassingly large "Tommy" label on the zipper, dwarfing what passes for bulge.
Surely these shirts and pants are more expensive than my no-name pocket T, Wrangler jeans, and New Balance (they come in widths) sneakers. Why would anyone pay More!!! to be a walking billboard when they can pay less to just wear clothes? I'm not fucking Amish, and I've even been known to don a Hawaiian shirt or two, but I'm not wearing someone else's advertisement unless they pay me, not vice versa.
Or at least give me the shirt for free. (hint) ;-)