Victoria’s Secret Pink to Supreme and Vineyard Vines, students tend to take pride in what they wear. However, the steep prices of these items are enough to leave other students satisfied with the everyday T-shirt and jeans. Still, the allure of name brand clothes remains.
Name brands can help convey certain messages about the wearer like wealth, popularity and trendiness.
For instance, junior Samuel Saldarriaga, a long time Supreme fan, enjoys the aesthetic that comes along with that brand.
“I like hip hop, so when I wear these clothes, I feel like I’m part of the culture. You see so many rappers, like Travis Scott, ASAP Rocky, and JBalvin, serving as fashion inspiration for the youth. You just want to be part of their aesthetic. It’s all marketing to feel cool, and trust me, it works,” Saldarriaga said.
Certain clothes can also affect how others view a person. If someone at school sees someone wearing a Gucci belt or a nice pair of Lululemon leggings they are more likely to perceive that individual being trendy and stylish. In addition to this, according to newsweek.com, there is a clear link between dressing well and popularity. In a survey conducted by NewsWeek, teens awarded the popular students at their schools nearly perfect scores for “dressing well” and “stylishness.”
The buying and wearing of name brand clothes has a sociological aspect as well. This behavior is an example of conforming to social norms.
“For students, we have things that have more [social] value. In our minds we tend to develop this sense of what kinds of things are more valuable than others. Some of that is factored by our norms,” sociology teacher Leslie Hosgood said.
According to Hosgood, although no one ever explicitly states social norms, they are something that a person learns in childhood as he or she observes the world around them.
If people conform to the social norm, they get positive
reinforcement. In this case, if people wear name brands, someone might say “Nice clothes!” or smile at them. Conversely, if a person were to go against the social norm, they might be ridiculed or bullied for the clothes that they wore.
Many of the teens who don’t conform are physically unable to because they do not have the money. These students may feel a sense of alienation that stems from not being accepted.
Overall, the reasons why students wear name brands are simple: people want to feel like they are part of the culture, convey certain messages about themselves -or just wear clothes that they like. And as for those who wear these brands, the social reward is greater than the financial cost of conformity.