Designer slaves

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: Twitter: @Babawilly

Wilson Orhiunu qed.ngI am partial to a bit of Christian Opulence. From France there is Dior, Lacroix and Christian “stepped on the Red Palm Oil” Louboutin while from the UK, you just have to smell of Clive Christian Imperial Majesty.

These are just a “few of my favourite things” that serve one purpose which is to make one feel special. They infuse a feeling of exclusivity.

Only joking! No product bought can make anyone really feel special, at least not for an appreciable length of time. The strong need for exclusivity in some people is almost as strong as the desire for water and air. They seek that difference in logos and brands. Every human being has a strong desire to belong to an exclusive club (and the advertisers know it).

However, searching high and low for a logo that sets one apart is like going on a long journey in pursuit of what was on your pillow all along. It is that thing called a FACE that really sets us apart. Chanel cannot do it for you as they sell to other paying customers.  To be truly exclusive all you need is to own a face, which costs nothing. We all recognise people by their faces. International travellers can confirm that the custom officers use faces and finger prints to identify people.

It is indeed ironic that people with distinct irreproducible facial features are searching for how to look different from everybody. They already do!  Bob Marley sang it well – “in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty”.

The mirror speaks louder than Karl Lagerfield or Ralph Lauren!  My favourite model of all time is Linda Evangelista who is famous for saying she would not consider getting out of bed for less than 10 thousand dollars. (What nonsense! Thirty thousand last price if you ask me!) In her heyday she made the clothes look beautiful and never the other way round.  The real designer item here is her DNA, and thank God we all have DNA.

“Designer!!” was what we used to shout when any of the guys dressed very well in my university days. Among friends, one might break into dance and suddenly strike a pose thus milking more applause. Thanks to the advertising we saw in magazines, if it was good, it was designer!

I have always wondered about the extent people went to distinguish themselves from others. Tribal marks were the norm many years ago in Nigeria. People wore the facially disfiguring marks with pride as it identified them to their motherland. During the tribal wars, people could be killed if identified with the tribal marks of an enemy. These tribal marks caused a few to be laughed at in school with jibes of “wrestled with a Tiger” being the most popular. Speed up to the present and everybody seems to have a tattoo; sometimes on the face.  Suddenly tribal marks don’t seem so bad for at least they meant something substantial.

I once saw “Black” somebody tattoo a Nike tick on his skin. A corporate logo! Didn’t slave owners use to brand their “property” with their names? Enough said!

Today, people are “making statements” to express their individualities by…er…wearing what everyone else is wearing.  Soccer fans in replica shirts, high street fashionistas with sagging jeans propped up by Louis Vuitton belts and trendy guys in the colourful trainers all give you that “back to school uniforms” feeling.

I like the designer stuff but it worries me when I see an individual work hard all week only to use his hard earned money to buy a belt and pair of trainers more expensive than what car owners own yet he is on the bus. These people have unrealistic expectations from their favourite brands. The brands never make any one cool. It is the cool people that are paid to advertise the brand’s products. Consumers buy into an unattainable “coolness”. It takes years to develop the qualities that the brands claim to offer once money is exchanged at the till. Even those born into quality homes have to be brought up and taught very well for many years before they fully manifest the “airs and graces” that genius advertisers promise you. Football is like fashion. The cool guys get paid to play wearing free kit and the less cool people pay to watch games and wear the kit (we are fans and we should know our place).

Saving up or stealing up to buy designer shoes while no efforts are made to develop the mind is symptomatic of a “marketing victim”. These are poor victims loyal to brands who are not loyal to them. The clothes have never made or empowered the man. Knowledge empowers the man. There is nothing wrong in dressing the brain up in a bit of chemistry or geology while accessorising with American history and economics.

The Nigerian party phenomenon that is aso ebi is not exempt from the “betta pass my neighbour” merchants would boil over with competition to the point of evaporation. They sew strange designs with the fabric and accessorise with designers shoe and bags (Wearing Miu Miu to go chop moin moin. Na Beans??). At a time when the family and friends should look exactly the same in the party uniform, outliers abound.  Na by force to be special? Some will buy ring tones and skin tones sef. You see them in celebrity magazines at weddings in designer sun glasses taking calls with dark skinned hands standing next to the bride. Their light skin “Fanta” faces acutely contrasts the dark skinned “Maltina” faces of their entire family tree. Designer!!!

PS: Aso oke to me is the mother of all fabrics. George wrapper on the waist, blouse, coral beads round the neck and wrist finished off with Gele Skontolo is the best. What is more exclusive than a Naija woman in traditional clothes? Designer!!