I was walking down the street a couple of days ago on a shopping expedition, respecting the suggested social distancing between fellow pedestrians when a young man approached wearing a baseball cap you can buy on amazon for a little over 200 dollars. It was a sunny day so I was also wearing a cap. Only mine was one tenth of the price and didn’t display a famous designer name, just the insignia of my neighborhood football team.
We dutifully kept our space as we passed, each listening to music and avoiding eye contact. I didn’t judge him on the proud display of a luxury label accessory, practicing a little acceptance and giving space in these stressful times. I was happy my cap functioned as it was meant to – preventing a sunburn.
Seeing people clad in logo embossed clothing has long since become uninteresting for me as designer names have been put on anything that can make a buck, to the point of finally become meaningless. Used to be a signal to the world of being part of an exclusive fraternity identified with a chic designer. The nicely styled clothes saying: ‘I made it’ or ‘I’m someone special’. And there are still a lot of people who believe this to be true if sales of branded items are a measure. Can you really be a successful ‘influencer’ or serious rapper if you don’t sport at least a little Gucci or Versace adornment? The more conspicuous the better!
Most people I saw on my long walk home avoided eye contact as if that was enough to spread the virus but a few would share a smile to say they were ok and not giving in to the rampant paranoia. Strolling along enjoying the sun, I started to think about these differences. I wondered if at the end of the lockdown a new set of values would emerge. A world more focused on sharing and caring versus hoarding or showing off one’s affluence. (Funny how affluence and effluence are almost spelled the same!) Will wearing a designer logo post-corona still make an individual someone special or would importance rather come from one’s kindness and consideration for your fellow human beings? Will Keeping Up with the Cashdashians still be a most watched show or will extravagant consumerism be replaced by appreciation for the smaller things in life and compassion for one another?
I am one of the hopeful types, maybe you can call me an idealist. (Or as John Lennon said: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”) I believe humanity has basic good qualities that we would all like to see shine more. Right now, we have the time to reflect on what type world we want to see when we emerge from all this virus chaos. Things like better global cooperation and more respect for people like those doing service work and healthcare versus venerating the ones who are only famous for being famous. Time to walk the talk and do good deeds rather than exhibit an attitude of indifference.
We all notice a well-dressed person on the street who’s taken a bit of pride in their appearance and we also enjoy putting on a nice set of clothes to go out. In these days of self-isolation, going to a restaurant in other than grungy sweatpants and an old t-shirt would be a treat and a boost to one’s sense of wellbeing. I’m looking forward to the return to normal, hopefully going forward in a better way. And if you want to spend 200 dollars on a baseball cap, that’s cool. Maybe I will donate to a favorite charity.