The Reality of Label Whoring

The world has two types of label whores: people who believe certain brand names are inherently better than others, and people who wish to show off their expensive possessions but care little about quality. Here’s why both of these people are seven levels of obnoxious, especially when they can’t afford to buy designer brands in the first place.


“My Oakley sunglasses aren’t Chinese ripoffs.”


Label whores are terrified of accidentally buying accessories made in China. It’s as if they believe only counterfeit products are manufactured there. Surprise! Most of your expensive designer sunglasses are made in China! Oakley, Ray-Ban, Prada, D&G are just a few brands that have manufacturing plants in China. Why? Because labor is cheap in China, and designer brand companies want nothing more than to make even more money selling overpriced products.

“Expensive brands have higher quality products that last longer, so I’m saving money in the long run.”

This is true sometimes, maybe even at least half the time. Other times expensive products are made in the very same manufacturing places as cheap ones. They’re given different labels and brand logos, then shipped off to the good ol’ USA to be sold in vastly different stores.

Either way, anecdotal evidence on this subject is totally useless. As humans, it’s difficult to overcome the psychological compulsion to feel happier about products for which we paid more money. This is why so many people report no problems with Apple and BMW products. Even when there’s a problem, their brain struggles to justify it and turn it into a feature.

Finding affordable high quality products is sometimes a matter of trial and error. It’s made even easier with companies like REI and Zappos whom accept returns at any time, for any reason.


“Prada just looks better!”


No, natural fibers look better. Cashmere, wool, and silk are usually more aesthetically pleasing than synthetic blends. Nordstrom doesn’t have a monopoly on selling wool jackets, though. You can find good quality clothing elsewhere, but label whores don’t bother to look.

Expensive brands might also look better because the clothing comes with free tailoring. Unfortunately for the clueless among us, nothing is ever free. The cost of tailoring is included in the price of the clothing.


“I like showing off my possessions. Isn’t that harmless?”


Not only is it needless attention-whoring, it proves how manipulative large corporations can be. Do you think it’s a coincidence that teenagers believe smoking and drinking is cool? Cigarette and alcohol companies have spent billions nurturing these ideas because it’s so incredibly profitable for them. The same goes for clothing companies.

In addition, it’s not harmless if you can’t afford it! If you’re bumming rides from friends or asking daddy to cover rent to afford the latest fashion trends, you’re failing as a human being.


“But I can afford this.”


You can afford to spend $500 on designer shoes if:

1. You have at least one month’s salary in a savings account.

One month is the bare minimum. Many financial advisers recommend three to six months. This money shouldn’t be used for anything except emergencies.

2. You have health insurance for yourself and all dependents.

A major injury or other medical emergency is the cause of most bankruptcies. Health insurance in the United States can be expensive, but it’s a necessary evil to ensure financial stability. As crazy as it sounds, you should also get health insurance for your dog or cat too. Even a minor surgery for a large dog can have anesthesia costs of up to $1,500. Yeah, that doesn’t include the surgery itself or the pain medication that’s just smaller doses of the same, really expensive medication given to humans.

3. You have little or no debt.

Let’s be clear: school, car, and mortgage loans are debt. Credit card balances are debt. Unpaid bills are debt. You can still spend money with debt, but it’s important to have your priorities in order.




Most people don’t have good reasons for label whoring. It’s herd mentality encouraged by their favorite brands. What are your reasons for buying designer brands? Are you ever influenced by advertisements or notice product placements in movies and TV shows?


  • I've admitted to being a label whore. My personal experience has been that the designer stuff I buy does indeed hold up better over time and survive the cleaning process much better. The showing off thing doesn't really apply since nothing I have has any identifiable makings or logos, unless you look at the label itself (this is probably a thing when it comes to women or the guys that rock the gaudy Affliction, South Pole, or Ed Hardy type stuff). I also have to admit that I don't by new styles or anything at full price. I go to Marshalls, or the store outlets and use coupons to save a ton on prior seasons stuff.
    My recent post Online Banks Really Aren’t Anything “New”

  • addvodka /

    I wouldn't say I'm a label or brand whore, but I do like pretty things. They don't have to be expensive or branded to look nice, though. I do like to carry a good purse, but when I say good I mean good QUALITY – but I also require there to be a good brand. Purses go with a woman absolutely everywhere, so it's important they are flexible and good quality.
    My recent post The Cost of Rescuing a Dog

  • Dominique,
    I'm into bicycles and they're not cheap. Parts are always evolving and guaranteeing improved performance. It's tough to not get on the bandwagon when your fellow riders buy the upgrades. However, I always research products before I purchase them.

    At the same time, it's a market in which you often get what you pay for so it can be just as bad getting the cheapest part. I look at my bicycles as investments: If I invest in a nicer part, it can mean less maintenance and infrequently replacing it. But fancy logos can be misleading!

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money
    My recent post Military Personal Finance Roundup: July 23-27

  • iMrsEBB /

    I would say I do buy name brand at a discounted price from stores such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory. I also purchase items from Macy's during the off season you really get great deals but I know a few people who live on where a price tag in their everyday conversation. Oh I paid $350 for my sunglasses. I'm like YEA ok but is your mortgage or rent paid, do you have gas money or grocery in your fridge? If you neglect to look nice then it is LABEL WHORING but if you can afford it without begging others I say go for it. Just do not put others down in the mix of it all. I am not a bragging type of person and bragging people urk me. Accomplishments ok but bragging about what you are wearing is just disgusting.

    To each their own.

  • URFinanceSimple /

    Some people do get power in wearing certain name brands. I say most people who brag on what they wear are simply really into the label, not different than any other hobby. The problem occurs when you can’t afford your hobby 🙂

  • URFinanceSimple /

    Gotta get the new carbon fiber Canondale :-).. Jk jk. I completely understand where you are coming from.

  • URFinanceSimple /

    I’m confused a little bit by your response. You say you want good quality, but also require there to be a good brand. what does that mean? Is Coach or Michael Kors a good brand or must you have Hermes or Louis Vuitton? What do you consider a good brand? What do you consider good quality?

  • URFinanceSimple /

    LOL @ South Pole. How did that brand make the list? I agree with you, never buy retail. I noticed that the designer brands either offer superior craftsmanship or a superior warranty with their products (lifetime)

  • Not going to lie. I'm a bit of a label whore as well, although not as much as Eric.

    I like certain items from certain brands.. ie my Ray bans, and my Micheal Kors purse, but on the flip side, I bought rather cheap tanks, and jeans if I can get my hands on them during a sale.

  • URFinanceSimple /

    I love the honesty! Now if only other personal finance bloggers would admit they are human 🙂

  • Renate /

    500 bucks for a pair of shoes!? I think it's insane… I mean, I won't spend so much for shoes even if I had thousands on my credit card…
    My recent post Fogbeültetés kedvező áron

  • URFinanceSimple /

    Everything is all relative to your propensity to consume. Also, what if the person’s hobby is shoes? I’m sure you spend $500 on something that another person will consider crazy. Nothing is inherently wrong with what you spend your money on… if you plan for it.

  • Isn't south pole the one with Fat Albert all over the ass of the jeans and the front of the legs? If that's the right one, that's why it made the list for the recognizable stupidity of the imagery
    My recent post Mortgage Escrow AKA Banks Stealing Your Money

  • Andrew /

    If we focus on quality, utility and relative value, then labels shouldn't matter much. Thing is, experimentation is, or can be, expensive. So opting for a higher quality brand with a good reputation might save on the el-cheapo lesson.

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