Here we go again. Another clothing brand makes a racist product or ad and people start to scream boycott. How about we “boycott” these brands before we get evidence that these brands promoted something offensive? In other words, let’s start to improve our purchasing habits by being less materialistic and more practical. Let’s stop patronizing brands that promote a certain status or trend. By doing so, we will also cut out brands that are not made by us or for us. Black people its time to be better consumers.
We can start in many ways. However, given the spotlight currently on the clothing industry and brands, let’s start there. The clothing you buy, especially when it is made by “trendsetting” brands, reflects a mindset. It reflects a belief that wearing something with a trendy brand name is equal to a certain status. It means certain brand names make you appear to be wealthy. The clothing you buy means you want people to know you are wearing the “best” brands. It means you think materialistically when it comes to the clothing you buy.
For the record, I have never bought anything from Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Armani, or Ralph Lauren. I can add so many more brands to this list. First, for me it’s an economic issue. I can’t see myself paying top dollar for any article of clothing (except a business suit and complimentary shoes) just because it is made by a certain brand. Think about it, a clothing brand and a logo is an artificial concept. It is made up to give the illusion that it has a certain style or gives a certain status. It is a marketing tool designed to influence consumers to buy. In reality, it says nothing quality, dependability, value, or cost. Instead, clothing brands and logos speak to materialism.
Couple this information with our intrinsic need to be seen and respected, and it is easy to see why people gravitate toward name-brand items. Some of us must be seen wearing a certain logo! Next, we can also add celebrity endorsements of these products and brands to reasons why we wear these items. I get it. Celebrities, athletes, and entertainers need to have a certain look to get us to follow them. But does following them require buying like them? Does it mean we should also wear Gucci, Prada, and the like just because they do? They “have to” wear the logo, do you have to as well?
Now let’s discuss the elephant in the room: who do these companies really want to wear their products? I think these brands, and the executives who run them, love the fact that black people buy their products. Again, it’s an economic issue; our money is green too. However, I also suspect they are not happy about us wearing their products. A lot of it is not made for us! How do we know? Think about the sizing and cut of the material. Think about the colors and styles. Think about the marketing and advertising. Think about the decision-makers who work at these companies. None of it revolves around, nor caters to black people.
Need proof? You already know the stories. Gucci makes a dark brown turtleneck sweater with big, red lips as a cutout. Prada has a product line with black monkey-like characters with, big red lips. H&M sells monkey t-shirts and puts a black child wearing one in an ad. In 2019, can anyone tell me how these things go from idea, concept, creation, sale, and advertisement without someone noticing they are racially tinged? Or, maybe it was noticed and overlooked and ignored. Maybe they know that we, black people, will continue to patronize their brands despite seeing these issues.
Here are some things to think about…
Have you ever seen Bill Gates wearing Gucci?
Have you ever seen Denzel Washington in an ad for Prada?
Have you purchased a $200 or more jeans or purse, but do not carry $200 inside one of the pockets?
Have you seen racist or offensive ads from a company and still bought their products?
Have you ever heard any spokespeople for these brands say, “yes, we make this specifically for black people?”
I think it is time for black consumers to rethink their purchasing habits. (As a side note, in 2019 there are more choices than ever for black people to buy and support black-owned designs and clothing. At least we know these brands are created for us and by us.) I am not saying we should burn our Gucci or Prada collection. After all we “must” look good and fashion-conscious right? It would be nice you we stop wearing what we already have, but I digress. Instead, I am saying if a company or its spokespeople create a racially insensitive product or advertise it, we should stop buying from the company and stop patronizing their brands.
I love black celebrities, but I don’t need them telling me to boycott. I didn’t need them to tell me to buy these brands, so I don’t need them to tell me not to. I get to choose what I buy. My mindset tells me not to follow trends or brands to be viewed as trendy or rich. Too many people put too much stock in this, especially when brands are endorsed by celebrities or those who dress, and act like them. Too many people want to wear a logo as a status symbol. Too many people want to look “good.”
The decision not to patronize Gucci, Prada, and the like is personal choice for me regardless of what status they offer. Economics, dependability, value, and cost drive my purchasing habits. When it comes to clothing, I stick to a brand that delivers and these points. This includes brands made by black people. But you can believe that I will drop that brand if I see any racist of offensive products or advertising. It is my choice. It should be your choice too. Still down?
Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.
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