A couple of days ago, my wife showed me an ad from the catalog of an upscale department store. Pictured in the ad was a model whose left knee was sticking out of a purposely designed tear (or worn spot) in a pair of designer jeans. Both legs of the jeans were badly scuffed with a few smaller tears or worn spots. Overall, the jeans looked like a reject from the Salvation Army or Goodwill Thrift Store. The price for this monstrosity: $1,750. Looking at this ad, I could not help but wonder, Who in the world would pay such a price for that item?
It is no secret that fashion in women’s clothing changes with predictable regularity. The “new look,” the sack, mini-skirts and designer jeans all, at one time or another, obsoleted billions of dollars worth of clothing. This has occurred at no great distress to the clothing industry, but the same cannot be said of those who ultimately had to pick up the tab for the new duds.
Each shift in the fashion parade evokes the query: “How do the designers get away with it?” Some theorize that it is the economic cycle, with hemlines rising as the economy falls and lowering again in better times. I suppose short skirts may provide some consolation for hard times, if this theory is valid. A few chauvinist types go so far as to attribute the whole process to the changeable nature of women–not a very popular stance in this day and age. But the fact still remains that it does happen. Styles change and no matter how controversial they are at first, they catch on, and entire wardrobes are abandoned.
I believe there is a fairly simple explanation for the whole process. Each year there is a new crop of young ladies who are starting to build their very first wardrobe. They buy the new styles with complete indifference to prior fashion because they have no investment in an existing wardrobe to protect. The “new” is all that is available to them, and so they adopt the new style, whatever it is, and with others then following along. In years to come they, too, will be hit many times with a wave of change they helped to build.
However, there are always some who outsmart the system. By avoiding “high” fashion and sticking with classic lines and basic black, adorned with varying accessories, they are able to be well groomed without the trauma associated with wardrobe obsolescence.
Well, you might ask, what has that got to do with the sale of life insurance? More than might at first be suspected. Periodically, new fashions make their way into the insurance marketplace. Over the years, we have witnessed a parade of new ideas–some remain, but many are gone, leaving very little to recall them but dashed hopes.