Veblens theory of conspicuous consumption


According to Thorstein Veblen’s theory, conspicuous consumption can be described as “tangible evidence of the cost of one’s apparel, indicating ability to spend freely on clothes”. The most evident example of this type of behaviour in society can be found in the individuals who actively choose the most ostentatious designer logos to wear on themselves. Think of those who wear their Burberry check shirt, with their Burberry check sneakers and their Burberry check belts. Or the ones who make a conscious effort for their Louis Vuitton, Hermes, or Gucci belt buckles to be visible at all times.

For centuries, humans have used clothing as a separator of the haves and haves-not. Driven by ego, some people thrive off of the fact that those who see them can see their wealth; whether that wealth is actual or contrived.

We live in a generation where people work harder to make it seem as though they have wealth, than they do to actually create the wealth they’re trying to portray. This is not just in fashion, but in all aspects of life.

Brooke Glasford

It is very much the same with appearance. People will shell out hundreds of thousands to wear a label or style that will give them some sort of notoriety, when they can’t really afford it and are living above their means.

It would also be interesting to talk about the fact that high-end luxury brands understand buying behaviour and the motives of their customers. They understand that the conspicuous consumer wants to be seen with their label, so the product that is within a price point that will attract them have much more branding, than items that are targeting a consumer with more expendable income.

While I feel it a stretch to consider Michael Kors anything other than a mid-level bridge brand, his is one of the easiest brands to be affiliated with conspicuous consumers as he has created lines to specifically target these buyers. Below is an example of the range of his price-points, as well as the difference in design of the offering based on different consumers.

Fashion in its purest form gives us the ability to create who we want to be. It is a daily blank canvas of our interpretations of ourselves and what we want people to see when they see us. Personally, I don’t think of this as silly, but smart. Society tends to take things at face value all the time; at any given time you can show them exactly what they want to see.

Let’s continue this conversation online, you can leave comments online on my website,

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