May 22, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 22, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Does the Price Tag Determine Fashion?

We’ve always had a difficult time in understanding the necessity of wearing clothing that has a brand name or logo on it. Wouldn’t it make more sense for a company to pay us for wearing a garment with their logo on it than for us to have to pay to wear it? Intentionally, as our children were growing up we refrained from buying “those name brands.”

During the recent chagim, with extra reading and home time due to the flu bug in our house, we received some extra reading material. Magazines that we generally do not have in our home such as Ami and Mishpacha were brought over to break the monotony. As we picked up one of these magazines we realized that we had to plow through 80 pages of advertising before we came to any articles of substance. These magazines, which are directed towards the more “to the right” side of the community, were plastered with ads about fashion. We are not talking about inexpensive fashion. Every page talked about the designer clothing for women: the stylish hats and hairpieces for women and children, the significance of having the most expensive sheitel and the Italian suits imported for men. The one that we could not resist ourselves from being mortified by and laughing about was the ad for the store that sells only cashmere clothing for children ages 18 months and up. Is that what we as Jews find important in our lives?

Nina once walked into a local children’s store several years ago that was advertising a sale. Always a glutton for buying new things for our grandchildren, Nina picked up a cute dress that was “on sale.” The size 2 dress was $185 (on sale)! Forgive us, but is this normal? A dress that will be burped on, dribbled on etc. for such an astronomical amount of money for a 2-year-old? We remember having a conversation with someone whose son at the age of 3 was wearing turquoise shoes on Shabbat. When Nina commented on the fact that she had never seen such a color for little boys’ shoes she was informed that these shoes were Italian and were being sold in a children’s store in Lakewood. Italian shoes for a 3-year-old! Have we lost all sense of what is appropriate and what type of lessons we are teaching our children by spending these ridiculous amounts on clothing? In which yeshiva are these values taught? We remember well our good friends in Montreal, both physicians, whose children always wore shoes from the equivalent of Walmart from the time that they were babies. They always felt that the cheaper the shoe the better it would mold to the child’s foot.

We did not know from imports; we did not know from name brands. Our choices were determined by the price tags on each individual item. We are quite confident our children always were dressed appropriately, whether it was during the week (thank heaven for uniforms) or on Shabbat or the chagim. The only connection we had with anything from Italy was that we ate pizza (which apparently is not even so big in Italy) and Mordechai always preferred what was called a “yaniva” etrog, which meant that it did not have a pitom and we guess originally stemmed from Italy. Of course, our connection with anything French was the language. Winners (the Montreal equivalent of TJ Maxx), Target and, when our children were babies, Alexander’s in New York (may it rest in peace) was where we found the very best clothing at reasonable prices for our children.

One day several years ago Nina was in one of the many children’s clothing factories in Montreal (owned by chasidim), buying something for one of her grandchildren. She thought it was the cutest dress intended for Shabbat until one of the salespeople shared that this dress was for the woch (week). She bought the Shabbat dress and the child it was intended for wore it on Shabbat quite happily. Does the price tag of the clothing we wear ensure happiness? Are we still wearing the same item one or two years later? Children obviously cannot wear clothing for two years in a row, and adults (in most cases, ladies) would not want to be seen wearing the same dress on Rosh Hashanah this year as they did on the previous Rosh Hashanah. How impressed we were with a friend who could well afford to buy different dresses for her four daughters’ weddings yet she remarked how ridiculous she felt it was to have dresses hanging in her closet that she would never wear again. She chose to wear the same dress for all of her smachot. Is not the wedding about the kallah? Who really cares about what the mother of the bride wears anyway?

Perhaps we are from the “old school” but we doubt that we can ever be convinced that cashmere is appropriate for a 2-year-old and that a man’s suit from Italy looks any better than one originally sewn in China. Perhaps our point can be proven by a very close friend in Toronto who imports men’s suits from China. There they were in his warehouse. Some of them had labels that said Sears on them. Others had labels on them for Holt Renfrew (the equivalent of Saks 5th Ave here). All suits from the same manufacturer, identical in every way, coming from the exact same lot. For those who chose to shop at the more expensive store the price was one thing and for those who shopped at the less expensive store the price was significantly less. For the same exact suit. Perhaps it is time for us to rethink the fact that in order to be Torah observant we must be fashionistas. It just baffles our minds to see what the stores catering to the frum world charge for clothing. Good for them—they certainly have the customers!

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles