Monday, August 25, 2014

The Battle of the Brands

I have to say one of the things I prefer about uniforms in school are the lack of "name brands".  Ever since our son, Sal III was very young (I'd say about 2 or 3 years old), I've let him pick his own clothes.  He went through a 6 year camo phase, no joke.  All the way down to the underwear.   He never wanted colored hair, faux hawks, jewelry or any name brand things.  What I'm saying is, I let him be himself without placing any pressure on him re who I thought he should be or how he should appear to the outside world (other than daily showers).  :) When he started preschool (at age 3) he could dress as he liked.  I witnessed first hand what appears to be (IMO) the battle of the brands.  I'm not saying his 3 year old classmate did not choose his spiked green hair, DC shoes and Sean Paul (spelling) attire on his own.  That is entirely possible.  However when I see the father of that child wearing the same type of sideways hat and shoes, it makes me wonder if our society is way too focused on all the wrong things.  I'm in no way saying I don't buy my son name brand things.  I do, for sure.  Here is why.  It is not because I like a specific name brand or because of the brand itself.  It is because as he has gotten older, he likes different things for different reasons. He loves a lot of the Quicksilver shirts because he loves the ocean scenes and his dad likes to surf.  But, only shirts in the softest and brightest highlighter-looking colors.  He still loves anything camo because his grandfather (who he is named after) is a Marine.  At his size, camo is hard to come by, so the kids sections at stores like Old Navy and Target just aren't cutting it any more, so I have to look at the other brands now.  We've even been to the Army surplus stores.  He does sometimes pick really odd things. During a trip to Catalina last year, he studied and really wanted this bright blue Patagonia backpack from one of the stores.  My husband said no, because it was over $100.  We asked him why he wanted this specific backpack.  He said because it had safety features.  Reflective tape, a whistle, a place to keep a water pouch.  He also liked all the pockets to store his gear. We thought about it and went back to the store and bought it for him.  He had been using the same two backpacks since preschool.  One was camo (big surprise) and the other was a Boy Scouts one.  Six years of the same backpacks and they still look new.    I explained this to my husband who then agreed if he wanted an expensive backpack, we could justify it because he would take care of it.  He is using it again this year.   My son loves soft things and he really prefers anything he wears to be really soft, so while shopping for his Summer clothes, I came across some really soft shorts for him.  My husband saw them and informed me they were a name brand that was popular.  I honestly had no idea.  They were $14.97 on clearance.  I wasn't sure if our son would like them, but I bought them anyway.  He did not like them.  He asked me to buy the same shorts he's been wearing since he was about 2 years old.  The problem is, he is in a 16-18 now and the boys section of Target ends there and I was trying to prepare him for the move from his non-descript Circo brand Target cargo shorts.  You know, the ones that are 2 pairs for $12?  I guess my point is, I wish more children were unaware of name brands, peer pressure to fit in, be "in-style", etc.  I can only hope that all children have a chance to be themselves, find out what they like and make choices on their own.  I truly believe our society places way too much value on who has the newest name brand purse, shoes, clothes and cars.   It is OK to have these things.  Just make sure you are doing it because it is something you or your child truly LOVES, not because you are trying to fit in or one-up the neighbors.

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