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What is in a designer label?

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th February 2009 03:00 AM

IF you want to test just how the designer label fever has caught up with city shoppers, try moving to crowded space like St Balikuddembe Market and shout: “ Designer!” For a moment, you will attract the crowd’s attention.

IF you want to test just how the designer label fever has caught up with city shoppers, try moving to crowded space like St Balikuddembe Market and shout: “ Designer!” For a moment, you will attract the crowd’s attention.

By Alex Balimwikungu

IF you want to test just how the designer label fever has caught up with city shoppers, try moving to crowded space like St Balikuddembe Market and shout: “ Designer!” For a moment, you will attract the crowd’s attention.

Such is the craze that you need not look further than your neighbour to see an elegant display of shoes, handbags, head gear, dresses and trousers.

All year round, the malls and streets are stocked, with the latest fashion brands and a variety of accessories.

When you wear clothing that is trendy, expensive or has any kind of label, be it genuine or counterfeit, you will be christened ‘designer’ even when some of these items look plain shabby and undesirable. Some people have gone as far as personalising these items with their own logos, pictures and labels.

For such people, a label will stay in vogue even when the product ceases to be fashionable. For instance, one can stick a Diesel pair of jeans logo on a pair of cheap Chinese knock-off jeans and go on to hike the price.

A boutique owner in Wandegeya, on condition of anonymity, admits to the power of designer labels and the ignorance of shoppers.

He admits that many boutiques have established themselves as luxury boutiques by getting recognisable logos and sewing them onto inexpensive outfits.

According to this shop owner, it is easy to get a Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, DKNY or Dolce&Gabbana outfit at a cost slightly higher than the local trading prices, but way below the international retail price.

A pair of the original denim jeans could cost sh150,000 but can be purchased in any open market for much less.
“There is a tendency for people to pay five times more for a common design outfit just on the basis of labels.

The outfit may be out on the market in exactly the same design, colour and size but as a rule, we have learnt to sew labels on an outfit just so we can sell it at a higher price,” this shopkeeper confesses.

Forget the age-old cliche: Clothes do not make the man. It is what is inside that counts.

It is easy to notice people including cabinet ministers, members of parliament, chief executive officers, brides and bridegrooms strutting attires with the designer labels hanging out for all to see.

Robert Ahimbisibwe of Select Garments, dealers in designer suits, says it is ridiculous to move around with a fashion label on a suit. He says one should always remove the label upon purchase, even if it is intended as a gift.

“It is not adviseable to wear an outfit with the brand name and logos still sewn on the suit,” he says.

According to Ahimbisibwe, consumers of such products are not aware that they are freely acting as marketing agents for the design houses. He says design houses should pay for that advertising.

“Why would an end-user keep on the label and continue advertising for a design house unless, of course, they want to re-sell it as new or feel a sense of pride displaying a design label?”

Joyce Kirya, a Nairobi fashion school trained designer and owner of Bridesmaid Fashion House on City Complex, says having class and style is not about owning designer labels.

“It is about knowing one’s body size, taste, personality, understanding what is appropriate for your lifestyle and finding clothes that suit and fit you. There are tailors who are qualified and can make you an outfit without placing a label on it.”

According to her, how one wears an outfit is what makes the difference, not who made it or how much it costs.
“After all, you are supposed to wear your clothes, not let them wear you,” she argues.

However design houses are now capable of embossing their own labels directly on an outfit without placing a tag. This is common on T-shirts, caps and underwear.

One way to avoid such items is to look for designers who can personalise an outfit to suit your taste and preference.

What is in a designer label?

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