In this book, the third in the series, The A-List almost got good. Let me emphasize, almost. Enough stuff happened at the end of that one that I was l...moreIn this book, the third in the series, The A-List almost got good. Let me emphasize, almost. Enough stuff happened at the end of that one that I was like, "oh snap, I need to read the next one!" The next one was a tremendous let-down. I will say, however, this one really is a lot livelier than the others. Several plot arcs begin that are genuinely interesting. The truly unfortunate thing is that in spite of the excruciating detail in these books, none of these plot elements resurface in subsequent titles. (less)
Another day, another Schor re-read as part of a project I'm working on. Though this book contains more efforts at quantitatively legitimating her argu...moreAnother day, another Schor re-read as part of a project I'm working on. Though this book contains more efforts at quantitatively legitimating her arguments than any of her other main works, I would still argue that this one is the least effective of the three. Why? Unlike her other two popular/scholarly books focusing on similar issues (The Overworked American and The Overspent American), the focus on kids actually leads to a weaker argument. In this book she does make more of an effort to address counter arguments to her points, yet in her zealousness at sticking with her main points, Schor is sometimes reminiscent of short-lived American Idol contestant Juanita Barber's rendition of "What About the Children?" At some point, it almost becomes laughable... but in the end it's just more of a grind.
I will say again that I appreciated that in this book, even while sticking with a popular audience, Schor did bust some social science moves and try to explain causality versus causation, necessary and sufficient explanations, and so on. At the same time however, I felt like I needed more than just the obvious marketers-say-the-darnedest-things to really be convinced of her argument.(less)
This book I had wanted to read since it came out, and it was great. Humorously, not long after I read it, I saw that it was for sale at the Kitson war...moreThis book I had wanted to read since it came out, and it was great. Humorously, not long after I read it, I saw that it was for sale at the Kitson warehouse sale, alongside marked down Habitual jeans and Michael Kors wedge sandals in an unheated, hangar-like space (where no, I didn't buy anything -- though I did score at the similar Lisa Kline sale). On this same trip, I also saw the (awesome) Takashi Murakami retrospective that notoriously included a Louis Vuitton boutique in the middle of the exhibition -- which definitely makes you think (about dropping a grand for a somewhat ugly bag, but also about you know, the relationship between art and commerce!). Anyway, this book was quite well done. It combines the narrative about different aspects of the luxury goods trade with detailed histories of different houses, and in general is very compelling. After reading the chapter about counterfeiting, you would never, ever want to buy a counterfeit handbag (and not just 'cause you're fooling yourself that you think people can't tell the difference -- trust me, we can, and that thing looks like crap).
On the flip side, you may come out of it really wanting to buy an Hermes bag. The interesting thing is that the author in no way dislikes luxury goods -- this isn't a Juliet B. Schor or James Twitchell kind of academia-lite read, the author is a fashion journalist. She kind of loves snobby stuff, and revels in anecdotes about like, how good the service at Christian Dior used to be like twenty years ago before they re-did the store. Rather than a diatribe against the massification of luxury and its consequences for the masses (debt, "affluenza", etc. -- though there's a bit of that in there, especially in the chapter where she goes to Vegas), it is more about how these things have lost their specialness for the very wealthy (although really for anyone who buys them). So it is sort of weird. The book ends up at that ridiculous store in Brazil, Daslu, and her talking about it like it's an uneqivocally good thing, which came off sort of weird for me. But in any event, the book is quite entertaining, and you learn a lot of stuff -- plus aside from okaying Hermes and Chanel, it really does take the air out of a lot of one's other handbag ambitions.(less)