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The first clothes worn by early man were furs and leather. These were functional items, made from easily-accessible material and intended to protect the wearer from the elements.
These days, people still wrap themselves in leather and fur. The purpose of clothing, however, is no longer to serve as a sensible cover-up. Quite the contrary, much of todayís clothing reveals far more than it conceals. We wear clothes to make a statement about our culture and our relationship to it.
Designer clothes are, by their nature, exclusive. They make the wearer stand out. The outfit itself is probably not entirely the issue. Although a black dress designed by Stella McCartney will undoubtedly be made of better quality than some little off-the-rack number, ultimately, a black dress is still a black dress. Whatís important is the label. The label says, sometimes even screams, that the wearer is somebody important. He or she is part of an exclusive club. People wearing a designer label share an automatic bond which immediately excludes anyone else. A designer outfit may look horrid, but the label still serves to elevate the wearer above the crowd.
The desire for designer clothing has so permeates our society that knock-offs of famous labels are a major industry. Many designers earn their living by attending the shows of famous couturiers. When they see something they like, they make a sketch and place an order with their supplier. A replica of the famous designerís outfit will be in the stores within days. If it doesnít have a famous label, it looks as if it does. For some people, thatís all that matters.
Some sellers try to distribute their knock-offs as the real thing, complete with the label of some famous designer. Those who actually buy designer clothes are able to tell the difference. The vast majority, however, are unable to distinguish between the real and the fake. Itís the label that holds their attention. So what if the wearer is nothing but a nine to five cubicle drone. While performing her dull job, sheís wearing something labeled Armani. She knows it, and she makes sure her fellow workers know it. If self-esteem can be bought at a discount, all the better. No one has to know itís fake Ė either the self-esteem or the outfit.
The purpose of clothing has always been to cover our outer self. Designer clothes can cover our inner self, as well.