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The Value of Things

Being of an age where the things I own can sometimes feel like they own me, taking up more bandwidth than the joy they should bring, I have been thinking more and more about the things that do bring joy, the things that I truly value. I realise that I am in a fortunate position, owning my own brand and working with some of the greatest producers of men’s garments in the world. But the theory of being a consumer is the same - the scale of things may vary, but embracing a little stoicism and learning to be a conscientious consumer is as pertinent to me as anyone else.

While I am no Jay Gatsby, silk shirts strewn across marble floors, nevertheless I have accumulated more garments than I honestly need, and in the process of deciding which will be passed along and which remain, I have set my mind to what constitutes value for me. While these are my opinions only, and every man must navigate the necessary and unnecessary consumption of life, here are a few things I’ve gleaned along the way.

The First and Golden rule for me is this - Sacrifice inherits value to almost everything in life. The hard won, the possessions and relationships I most value, have come with some level of sacrifice. The people I have had to fight for are the ones I am least likely to abandon, and the possessions I have sacrificed for seem to be the ones that both receive the most care and attention, and in turn bring the most joy.

I generally don’t shop on sale. I don’t judge anyone who does, but in turn, I don’t and I don’t allow the things I produce to be sold that way. I believe there is a fair price for a thing, and if that price is pushing the ceiling on what is comfortable to spend, the purchase takes greater consideration. An investment of time, thought and finance. The converse seems to be true for me as well - if something has cost no effort or expense, whether it is the price or the process of acquiring it - it is more easily forgotten and more easily neglected.

I have seen that tangibly over the years. When the ticket shows 30% off, it is immediately and often subconsciously compromised. Its value wasn’t what it was, to the merchant or to the customer. It is inherently flawed, even if as a thing, it is perfect. It came easily and so can easily be erased from one's memory and discarded. 

I look to the garments that I hope never to part with, and there is something that unifies them - they all have come at some sacrifice to attain. An investment in the relationship, time spent in the process, a price point that has caused enough pause for me to make sure that purchase was the right one. Having to reach that little bit further, save that little bit longer. It’s what makes a bespoke jacket and a favourite pair of jeans members of the same class - the sacrosanct in my wardrobe, the things that will be held on to, passed on only when my suitability as their caretaker has expired.

Tailoring and Skipper Polo

A bespoke jacket has a price beyond the often uncomfortably high price they command - they cannot be bought on sale, and further they cannot simply be purchased, nameless and faceless and solely an exchange of money. An investment in understanding what makes it great is the first hurdle. Not everyone has the understanding or the experience to be able to recognise its value.  

It then requires an investment in a relationship with the tailor or the shoe maker or whichever artisan it is commissioned from. The better that relationship, the more time working towards understanding each other, the better the garment. The second commission almost always trumps the first, and so on and so forth. The maker is making for you, and the better they know you, the better the result.

Then it requires the effort of returning for fittings, going through the process of refining the garment and the customer in tandem. The garment physically becomes closer and closer to what the customer requires, the customer becomes closer and closer to being the sort of person best suited to the garment. Nobody, regardless of their wealth, can get a garment better suited to them on a first try than you can after years of getting to know the maker and them knowing you.

When you receive that garment, there is something like ceremony - the maker presenting it to you, checking its fit, assuring that it is representative of them and of you. It is handed to you by the maker themselves, passed from their hand to yours. 

They say the things we own end up owning us, and this I can say is true. The things we own should bring us joy, and they should better us as people. In a world congested with things, I hope that every thing I cause to be produced is of such value as to bring me joy until I no longer can do it justice.

This is my way of creating the value of things.

Comments

Christian:

Thank you Ethan, that sure was a good read.

Aug 02, 2022

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