"Elite" Shoppers Ignore Logos, Focus On Subtle Signals

Listen hun, your Gucci bag and Burbury scarf aren’t fooling anyone. Sophisticated shoppers, the ones you’re pretending to be, they know better. According to a recent study, the elite among us skip past the logos and instead focus on subtle cues like distinctive designs and details to figure out who’s truly high brow.

For the elites, it’s all about keeping themselves distinguishable from the middle class. The study tells us that “[s]ubtle detailing such as extra buttons, particular stitching, or covert markings have been described as “dog-whistle” fashion because they fly beneath the radar and fail to be decoded by most observers.”

These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.


Jonah Berger, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the paper’s authors, said it was not that insiders simply had a dislike for logos. Instead, he said, they avoid them “in identity-relevant domains to distinguish themselves from mainstream consumers who buy such products to show they’ve made it.”

So next time someone yells at you for wearing sweatpants around the house, explain that you pity them for being unable to discern the quality workmanship behind your high fashion.

Why Elite Shoppers Eschew Logos [The New York Times]
Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption (pdf)

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