Ralph Lauren’s RRL Fall 2014 line has a lookalike of a Carhartt vest that retails for $390. (It also has really nice photography by Robb Kendrick who makes tintypes of modern day cowboys, which is the main reason why I cruised by the site) I like Ralph Lauren, I think he makes some really well designed, classic, masculine looking, nice stuff. I own some of his stuff (that was either thrifted or purchased with a steep discount) and enjoy wearing it.
The thing I find odd though, is that it’s basically a really fancy version of this:
This vest retails for about $70 and is made in the US by workers earning a good wage. I don’t know where the Ralph Lauren version is made or what they make. The last two things of his I bought were made in Asia, in countries with really low wages and terrible working conditions.
I’m a big fan of buying the best quality you can afford, because even if it’s a little expensive up front, you save money by not having to replace it within a few years. I’ve had the same Carhartt coat for 4 years and it’s barely even broken in. My Dad has one older than me, and I remember watching the Challenger on TV. I assure you my Dad has put some really hard miles on his, and it shows. These are garments that don’t look right without motor oil stains and frayed edges. Do you want to spend $400 bucks on something you’re going to beat the snot out of?
What I’m saying is, there’s quality, and there’s vanity. If you can afford the $4oo buck vest, no skin off my nose. But don’t save up for it thinking it’s inherently superior to the $70 version. Clothes exist and are designed for specific purposes. Don’t let the label get in the way of the job your clothes are supposed to do.