I am always impressed by people's interest in clothing brands. How many people care about labels. What's with those ugly purses and bags that cost so much money? And those lady's dress shoes you can't even walk in . . .
Ah well. Who am I to understand? I was raised in hand-me-downs and clothing items from the Sears catalog. Most of my clothes were brown or navy blue to hide stains. For years my mother refused even to buy us bathing suits. She thought they were over-priced. So she would dress her girls in giant, colorful underpants, which she called yard pants. (I'm still not sure if there is or was such a thing as yard pants. Did any one else out there wear yard pants? If so, will you leave me a comment? Please?)
Yard pants, according to my mother, are not underpants. They just look like them. On hot days she'd dress us in these yard pants and take us the local pool. I'd have to explain to my friends that I wasn't wearing underwear. Oh no. Not me. I was wearing a unique outfit that only my mother knew about. Some of my girl friends worried that my nipples were showing, so I would pull those pants all the way up over my nipples. Yes, those yard pants were unique. When I dove in the water, the bottoms would fill with water and bloom behind me.
Of course, I expect folks to be more fashion-conscious than my mother. Or me. Or anyone else who became accustomed to wearing yard pants in public as a girl. But there are places and times where I assume people will be more aware of brand names and the like.
I all but expected Suzanne's friends at Princeton to be brand savvy. Though some were not at all, and others took it to a new level. One day, for example, S was wearing a black T-shirt. No marking on it, no label. I mean a plain black shirt. Her friend turned to her and said, nice T-shirt. J Crew, last year's model.
But I didn't expect the same thing to occur in El Salvador, esp. in the hills of El Salvador in a community where people carry water and wood on their heads. But some of those folks know as much about brands as Princeton students. A teenage girl, for example, the daughter of a pineapple farmer, pointed out that my running shoes were Asics. Very expensive ones too. But she could tell that my shirts were just cheapo t-shirts. I just run in them, I explained. And what do you do with your shoes? she asked.