I Knew It! “Fashion” Is Fake!

I’ve often wondered why one t-shirt sells for $3 and another one sells for $30, even though I see no difference. Or why one pair of Levi jeans is $49 but a pair of Off White jeans is $450.

I see no difference between such fashion wear, and always thought that the prices were purely artificial and did not represent a commensurate difference in value.

Well now there’s a little bit of evidence to support my belief thanks to Payless.

Payless, a brand known for budget-friendly shoes, opened a fake pop-up store called “Palessi” in a Los Angeles mall and invited influencers to the grand opening. The store was stocked with Payless shoes in disguise.”I would pay $400 or $500,” a woman says in a TV ad, holding a pair of $19.99 sneakers. Another shopper calls the Payless shoes “elegant and sophisticated.”

About 80 influencers attended over two nights, according to Payless. They shelled out a total of $3,000. One shopper spent $640 for a pair of boots, which represented an 1,800% markup. Payless, however, returned their money and let them keep the shoes. Payless said the influencers were paid a small stipend to attend Payless said the social experiment was meant to remind shoppers that Payless’ affordable shoes are fashionable too.

This is not the first time such an experiment has been tried.

A study published in 2008 tested the idea that price affects perceptions of quality. Subjects were given inexpensive wine to drink, but those who were told it was more expensive described it as more flavorful and pleasant to drink.

I’m not a wine drinker, but this does not surprise me at all. I’d be hard-pressed to pick out the difference between a $10, $100, or $1,000 bottle of wine, and my guess is that most people would not be able to do so either.

But I think clothing is probably the worst offender, and people often pay for the logo or the designer’s name, and that the higher price is not justified by a proportionate increase in quality.

I think the Payless experiment also shows that “social media influencers” are no better qualified than the average person to judge the value of something.

So it’s all about perception, and not reality. Luxury is simply in the eye of the beholder. And it’s also about the power of marketing – convincing people that a higher price means higher quality.

As always, buyer beware.

Well played, Payless (which is wear my one pair of dress shoes, for $39, is from).

*image from MoneyInc

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