Dissent at the Blog of the Manolo

Manolo says, this is one of the reasons why the Manolo loves his readers so very much, because even when they dissent from the official Manolo Party Line, they do so in ways that are interesting, polite, and well-reasoned.

Here, for the example, is the Manolo’s internet friend Sarah commenting upon the Manolo’s outrage with the Steven Madden peoples.

Sorry, I have to go against the grain here.

Ever seen those Suave shampoo commercials? Where two women with gorgeous hair flounce around for thirty seconds, and the announcer informs us that one of them spends a lot for salon products, and the other uses Suave? “If you can’t tell, why should we?”

Seven hundred dollars is an exorbitant price to pay for a mass produced product that you don’t plug into your wall. That it is not even remotely beyond the pale, in fact ‘reasonable’ as far as couture products goes, simply shows how divorced female ideals of conspicuous consumption have been removed from products that provide us value for money.

I remember being shocked when a friend of mine, a professional geisha, told me the average kimono she wore to work cost over ten thousand dollars. Then she actually went into the economics of the kimono industry, explained that every single kimono was a work of handcrafted art which kept dozens of artisans, sometimes the only living remnants of their craft, fed, and which was completely unique and symbolically sound in every detail. I was convinced at this point, and then she said, “Besides, it’s no more than you’d pay for a high-end handbag at some department stores.”

Louboutin’s name is not worth seven hundred dollars. No one’s name is worth seven hundred dollars. Value in fashion is assigned by a very small, very select cadre of people, and those values exist solely to keep a level of stylistic cache unattainable by the masses. Or else, how do you know how chic you are?

Of course, those signifiers fall apart if chicness is widespread, which is the real danger if mass market knockoffs. It is not a matter of protection of intellectual property; haute couture exists to determine the trend points upon which attainable intellectual property will be based, five years down the road. Nor is there anything patentable about patent leather, laces, shoe boots, or round toes. And if you honestly think shoe boots will be au courant long enough to constitute a ‘basic,’ or that any amount of money will make stilettos comfortable or long-lasting…

In summary, I am not offended by Steve Madden.

This is the exemplar of how intelligent and reasonable peoples should disagree! That the Manolo does not agree with this, does not change how happy he is to have received it.

As for what the Manolo believes, the Manolo can do no better than to point you to the replies of his internet friends Ninjarina, Dangster, and especially the Wannbe, who comes closest to expressing the Manolo’s own feelings with this perceptive comment below.

My dearest Sarah:

The issue isn’t whether you could or should pay $700 for shoes. Certainly the Louboutins are of higher quality, though indeed, both they and the SM knockoffs are footcoverings and therefore of similar use. The entire fashion world knows that knockoffs happen — but there is a way to do that legitimately. ABS Allen Schwartz is the absolute king of this kind of industry. He looks at Oscar gowns and then reproduces the look in an “inspired by” kind of way at a much lower price point so that people who cannot afford the Versace gown can buy it. No one has a problem with that, really, since the customer buying the ABS dress could never have afforded the Versace in the first place.

It is fundamentally different, however, to be “inspired by” someone else’s design and to produce an outright copy using inferior materials. Then to have the temerity to underline your perfidy by not even bothering to produce your own photograph, but rather stealing a photo of the original and photoshopping it, is flat-out wrong and deeply offensive. No one is offended that Madden produces cheap shoes — you get what you pay for. What we are offended by is his effort to pass them off as something else — a groundbreaking design that looks as good as the originals. (I’m betting the plastic copies just don’t look as good.) It’s consumer fraud.

That cheap shoes should be inspired by better quality shoes from serious designers is the inevitable fact of life; that unscrupulous hacks should attempt to commit fraud is not. Such things should not be tolerated.

However, there was one other part of the Sarah’s comment that has not yet been well-addressed, and it is contained in this excerpt.

Seven hundred dollars is an exorbitant price to pay for a mass produced product that you don’t plug into your wall. That it is not even remotely beyond the pale, in fact ‘reasonable’ as far as couture products goes, simply shows how divorced female ideals of conspicuous consumption have been removed from products that provide us value for money.

[...]

Louboutin’s name is not worth seven hundred dollars. No one’s name is worth seven hundred dollars.

The argument contained in this passage is not only common, but is often couched in moralistic terms.

The argument posits that items of high fashion are not “worth the cost”, and that because the utilitarian value of the object cannot match the exorbitant price, this makes the purchase of such objects morally suspect.

Yes, it is true that that one may not be able to justify the purchase of the $1000 Christian Louboutin Goya booties on practical grounds, for after all, would not stout, waterproof, leathern boxes stuffed with meadow grasses be just as useful?

And, yet, even as we seek practicality, we are ever mindful of artistic value, so that one day you are clomping through the plaza with in your stout leathern boxes (retail cost $29.95) when you see the young woman wearing leathern boxes with the delicate painted stripe down the side, and you become envious, because its looks pretty, and the beauty of this decoration imparts something of it’s superior nature to the wearer.

Suddenly you are all, “Ayyyy! Utilitarianism be damned!” Who cares if the leather boxes with the stripe cost $1.29 more, you must have the leathern boxes with the stripes!

This reaction is natural, indeed, it transcends the human, so that even animals recognize and respond to beauty, how else to explain the peacock? And like the peacocks and the peahens, humans respond to beauty, and seek to acquire beauty, even when the cost of beautiful objects grossly exceeds their utilitarian value.

That some peoples would pay $700 for beautiful and stylish shoes from master designers and craftsmen, should surprise us no more than that someone would pay $20 million dollars for the Andy Warhol painting. One may not agree with the taste of the purchaser, but one must at least understand something of the impulse that compels the purchase.

Of the course, the Manolo has simplified things greatly, and is ignoring many variables of motivation and economics, but the underlying desire for beauty, and our willingness to value it highly still pertains.

29 Responses to “Dissent at the Blog of the Manolo”

  1. cassandra November 28, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

    Seven hundred dollars is an exorbitant price to pay for a mass produced product that you don’t plug into your wall.

    I think we can all agree that $700 is a lot of money. What it comes down to is what we value- for me I would never spend $700 on a television or stereo; that’s not something that interests me. I might pay that much for a pair of classic, well made shoes that I will wear to the office for many years to come or for a handbag that will last me forever. We each invest our disposable income in items that make us happy, that’s the bottom line, no?

  2. Nariya November 28, 2007 at 12:46 pm #

    I also love Manolo’s commenters! It is rare to come upon a group of people who are loyal to the idea of a reasonable, interesting discussion, no matter what the topic.

    There is a middle ground somewhere between the exalted M. Louboutin and the practical waterproof boxes, where I (and many people, I’m sure) reside — the place where style is upheld as often as possible at a cost that can be maintained, with occasional leaps in and out of the world of the exceptionally beautiful, well-crafted and extravagant purchase. And can the latter type of purchase be justified? I think so, because if one lives in the middle ground where I live, one can not only say “Yes, this is an exceptionally magnificent piece!”, one can also say “And I deserve it–spending this money represents my self-appreciation. I am definitely worth this indulgence!”

    Of course, if one is not the type to enjoy a nice pair of shoes, then one should indulge oneself with something else– a vacation, or a new giant television, or whatever works. The idea, though, is that money need not always be spent practically or even reasonably. If one is happy with oneself and with the chosen indulgence, then the money was well-spent.

    On a completely random note: respected Manolo, are you planning on adding the Crocs to the Gallery of the Horrors in the future?

  3. Poochie November 28, 2007 at 12:49 pm #

    Every person judges from their own perspective on how to spend their hard earned dollars. Just as in that SATC episode where Carrie was judged by her friend about the cost of replacing her shoes when they were stolen.

    I may spend a grand on a pair of shoes but I won’t on a bag and I don’t spend a lot on clothes. But I have found many people who are appalled and comment negatively on the amount and quality of my shoes.

    I actually purchased a pair of the Steve Maddens (the emily boot knock-offs) to see what they looked like in person. Let me tell you… they went right back in the box. and it had nothing to do with the lack of the red sole or not having the Louboutin name. They were clunky and plastic and ugly in comparison to their inspiration.

    I know I will continue to point out this blatent theft of Louboutin’s designs, although I am sure they are well aware of it.

    Luv
    Poochie
    shoedaydreams.com

  4. Bridey November 28, 2007 at 1:06 pm #

    Indeed, I think Sarah’s kimono story rather undercuts her argument than supports it. If we’re being all utilitarian here, nobody really needs a kimono at all anymore, much less a $10,000-plus handcrafted kimono.

    And if we are to have kimonos, I have little doubt that even the most extraordinary handmade kimono could be duplicated (or approximated so closely as to fool all but expert eyes) by modern methods for a fraction of the cost. I’m sure a professional geisha would look just as lovely in, and her customers would be just as pleased by, a really good knockoff kimono.

    So why wear the real thing? Because (presumably) it is valuable to the professional geisha to know that she is honoring and taking part in a centuries-old tradition. She may very well feel more beautiful and desirable in a wonderful authentic kimono — and so may a woman taking harmless pleasure in her authentic Louboutins. Both their feelings have value outside of their immediate needs, which could, honestly, be as well served by a bathrobe and a pair of Birkenstocks.

    Just as there is an industry devoted to making wonderful, expensive kimonos for those who can afford them, there is an industry devoted to making wonderful, expensive shoes. And there’s nothing wrong with either one.

  5. Linda Grant November 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    Three words: intellectual property theft.

  6. deirdre November 28, 2007 at 1:33 pm #

    I think a point being missed in both Manolo’s rebuttal and the comments here is the difference between handmade and mass produced. A $10,000 kimono that is handmade by a stable of workers is vastly different than a well-designed, mass-produced shoes. Otherwise, there’d be no difference between a haute couture dress and the same designer’s pret-a-porte offerings, other than the price.

  7. Bridey November 28, 2007 at 1:51 pm #

    I beg to differ, deirdre — I don’t think that’s the point at all. The kimono’s value is what the people who make it can persuade someone to pay for it, and the same goes for the shoes. The value of an item is what the market will bear, and there’s nothing magic about something’s being handmade.

  8. Cristina November 28, 2007 at 2:37 pm #

    I loved reading all these responses – well written and well argued, all of them. There is another point too: making a pair of shoes in China and making a pair of shoes in Italy cost entirely different amounts. Manufacturing in Italy costs a lot, for a number of reasons, one being the socialist infrastructure (universal health care, state-sponsored day care, and it’s really, really difficult to fire people in Italy, not to mention the cost of craziness all through public systems that we take for granted in North America).
    I can’t afford $700 Louboutins, but I will spend more for a pair of shoes made in Italy, or made in any free country where workers have basic rights.
    Neither are those two shoes produced in the same manner. Actual, trained people stitch Louboutins, actual well-paid people that have rights and are paid in Euros, and they aren’t expected to churn out thousands of shoes a day. That costs.

  9. Melissa November 28, 2007 at 3:00 pm #

    A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times ran an interesting story on knockoffs (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/09/weekinreview/09wilson.html). One designer they interviewed was “crestfallen” when she complimented a model’s shoes and asked if they were Yves St. Laurent — only to be told they were actually from Nine West.

    Personally, I think that if a knock-off that costs a fraction of the price is convincing enough to pass for the real thing (with a fashion designer, no less!), the designer label has not done its job. In my opinion, a higher price should mean superior craftsmanship and better materials, not just a name on a box, and the best designers understand this.

    But in this case, the blatant image theft suggests that Steve Madden knows its knockoff booties will never, ever pass for the originals, and their only hope for selling them is to modify photographs of another shoe and market it as their own. They might as well put a pair of Louboutins with the soles painted tan in the window of their store. It’s a tacky and dishonest marketing trick, and even though Steve Madden is much more in my price range than Louboutin, it makes me reluctant to buy Steve Madden shoes.

  10. Cristina November 28, 2007 at 3:26 pm #

    One thing about Nine West shoes: I bought a pair and the heel broke off. No biggie, I thought, and brought it to the cobbler. He told me the screw actually broke in half and one half was stuck in the heel, making it unrepairable. Then he asked me where I bought them, and showed me another 2 pairs of Nine West shoes with the same problem. He figured they saved a few cents per screw that way. Meanwhile, my cute shoes were garbage after less than one season of wear. Never bought Nine West heels again (though I bought Nine West wedges that were ok).

  11. Miss Shoo November 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm #

    I’d like to give my opinion as someone who trained in Italy for shoe design, and is currently having her first collection produced in the Toscana area in Italy. I moved from the San Mauro Pascoli area.

    It’s extremely hard for me as an independent designer with the dollar being so weak against the euro, but that’s neither here nor there. What I would like to do is give the break down of how shoes are made and the cost. While $700 to some (perhaps even many) may have no rhyme or reason, I’d like to show you the exact reasons for this price on a shoe either made in Italy, Paris, or even Spain.

    It takes over a 100 components to make a shoe. The sketching is the easiest part, because it’s your fancy, your vision – but actually getting that vision into a shoe and something that’s passed quality control is a whole other issue. These are my prices and I’m producing a very small collection based on the standards in the industry.

    My factory charges me $150 dollars of this amount about $45-$65 is for the leather/materials. If I want something extra like embellishments that’s an EXTRA $45-$65) outside of this $150 dollars they charge me.

    Then there is the cost of labor, Italy is on par with with US as far as wages go, if not better in some cases. But I get charged for labor which is at least $40 and can go as high as $60 (right now). This does not include how I want to finish the heel, that’s an extra fee that can take the labor cost up to $90.

    Then there is a landing cost, which is what I pay to get the shoe in the US and right now I pay $30 to do that.

    Retailers mark-up based on the industry standards, so say a shoe costs which is usually 2.4 times.

    Shoes are more than likely considered the most expensive item any designer can produce, because you have to pay for the last, heel, shoe tap, etc, etc, etc. over a 100 components adds-up. Not to mention the smaller amounts of shoes produced the more it cost, thus my fee. I don’t produce 100,000 pairs of shoes a year, and don’t consider even a 100,000 pairs of shoes a year “mass produced” – my collection is very limited. My profits go back into my company, and we won’t get into the woes of getting paid from your accounts.

    I have no idea what Mr. Louboutins pays to his factory etc, and what he gets, but the added value of ones name, and workmanship does come into play. I take pride in my work, and I want my shoes to last as long as the ones that were passed down to me when I knew I wanted to do this for a living and life. I can tell you that Louboutins will outlast a Steve Madden, and yes as a designer I am offended when someone blatantly steals the work I did or any designer does (of course many credible designer owe kudos and respect to Manolo and Prada for their work being copied over and over). Should designers not have the same rights as a photographer or writer? I obviously think so, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I wanted to give real numbers and how this business of shoe making works, so if ever there is a question of worth, ones opinion can be an informed one.

    Not many of us who do this for a living, and don’t produce in Italy can just charge, there is a very clear cut way to make shoes in a country like Italy, and it’s just not “cheap” to do it. You can’t go to Italy expecting to pay someone pennies and get quality, sadly you can in China or even Brazil (my home country) but you can’t in Italy, Spain, or Paris. You must pay for their craftsmanship, their skills, for their version of quality – which to this day I wouldn’t trade. I work with men and women who have been born into the world of cobblers, who have spent 16 hours making one pair of shoes, who put love and their own skills into making my vision come alive.

    Thanks for allowing me to share.

  12. Sarah November 28, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    I am so flattered to have made it onto the main page of the Manolo’s blog! Even though the commentary since has convinced me that my opinion on a few particulars in this post were misguided. I have separated out my ‘acceptance of knocking off’ from my ‘feelings toward using the same picture to advertise a different product,’ for example. The latter is deplorable.

    Dierdre, well spoken! I am completely in agreement with you. And while I do not know enough about the manufacturing policies of maddden v. laboutin, I do accept, as christina points out, that high quality of life for the workers will result in a more expensive product, and I’m on board with paying for that–I just doubt the difference adds up to $550.

    If anyone, including the Manolo, took from my post that I was passing a moral judgement on people who spend a lot of money on shoes, that was not my intent, at all. I’d be a strange customer at a fashion blog, after all, if I too did not respond to and value beauty. In fact, I like to see the dissemination of beauty by whatever means necessary, INCLUDING knocking off. Competition, after all, breeds creativity…and THAT, in turn, breeds more and more interesting expressions of beauty.

  13. ripley November 28, 2007 at 4:33 pm #

    What a great discussion

    Linda Grant’s post is a good example of the problem people are grappling with – in fact this (at least the shoe copying) is not, according to law, intellectual property theft. No matter the moral outrage, the law is clear on this point. Some people would like to change the law, but that’s a different issue.

    The issue here is that there are multiple ways to judge what kinds of rights are being violated, and the law is only one of them.

    The other ways I see people arguing that the shoe should be protected from copying are labor justifications (that more work went into the ‘original’ and it should be protected), consumer protection justifications, we have the justification of the spirit of the author (something ineffably Louboutin – who probably, by the way, is not an individual but a branded collection of creators), fair treatment of workers… what a fascinating array of concerns that are sometimes crammed into service justifying calling something intellectual property!

  14. Atari November 28, 2007 at 4:51 pm #

    I think, in many cases, that you get what you pay for. True, there are far too many instances where the quality of the product is far inferior to the price tag, but especially with a name as respected as Christian Louboutin, the superiority of the shoes is plain as soon as you try them on. Steve Madden, however, is a pretty good shoe for a much lower price tag. Given that I’m only 18 and working for minimum wage, the Steve Madden alternative to the Miss Fred Tacco is very appealing. I don’t mind that the design is a blatant copy as much as I mind the photoshopping of the same shoe. Christan Louboutin itself is no stranger to imitations, especially of it’s signature red sole, and that will always exist. But again, my problem with the Steve Madden shoe is that they used a picture of the Miss Fred Tacco. I would have much more respect for the brand at this point if they had used a photograph of their own version of the shoe, rather than photoshop another shoe. But that’s just me.

  15. carrie November 28, 2007 at 5:04 pm #

    Ayyyyyy!!!
    The Manolo and his readers may be interested to know that Steve Madden has removed the Becks from his website! The copied picture is now mysteriously missing and a search for “Becks” brings up nothing… could all of our grumblings been loud enough to make this happen? Interesting indeed

    xoxo
    Carrie
    http://www.CarriesShoeReview.com

  16. wannabe November 28, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    Ayyy! I have been flattered by the Manolo! I shan’t wash my typing fingertips for a week. Thanks to all you delightful smarties.

    Dearest Sarah:

    One other thing. How cool is it that you know a geisha? It reminded me of another illustration of Manolo’s point regarding the cost of the shoes. The husband of the wannabe is to hand tools what the wannabe is to shoes — a wannabe. (duh). So the husband, involved in a task we won’t bother you with, ordered chisels from Japan when he learned they were made by (alleged) descendants of the Samurai swordmakers. turned to making tools when the Samurai were outlawed. The process involves sending a polite request to an intermediary who then passes it on to the master who decides whether he will make the tools. After a few weeks of polite exchange the decision is made. After a few months of work, they are delivered. The tools are more beautiful than their home depot counterparts, and work brilliantly. Yet when questioned regarding how much better they worked than the box store versions, Mr. Wannabe hightailed it back to the workshop with an incomprehensible response.
    Craftsmanship — lovingly applied industry in the pursuit of perfection — is a social goal we don’t value enough. Yes, the materials so produced may only be incrementally better, but you know that in ways real and ineffable these things add value to the world, and the self, that a store-bought mass-produced thing cannot.

  17. Kate Cavendish November 28, 2007 at 5:54 pm #

    My objection to the Steve Madden shoes is not that he has paid homage (putting it gently) to Louboutin by fashioning his own version of the shoe; it’s that he took Louboutin’s advertising image and presented it as the Steve Madden shoe.

    If I were a client who purchased the Steve Madden shoe online on the basis of that image, I’m sure I’d be shocked when I saw the real thing: a sweatshop-produced, rough-hewn foot covering that does not come anywhere near the artistry or skills of Louboutin’s manufacturers/artisans.

    So my issue is one of representation: what you see is NOT what you get.

  18. g-dog November 28, 2007 at 7:39 pm #

    Copying the shoe wasn’t the possible intellectual property theft – unless the design was patented (given the limited coverage of design patents and the transitory nature of “fashion” – probably not worth the $$$)

    The IP theft was taking & using someone else’s photograph – IF that was copyrighted.

    In any event – copyrighted photo or not – dirty pool & extremely lazy & cheap-ass tactic on the part of the Steve Madden.

  19. OG November 29, 2007 at 7:59 am #

    I work as a buyer for a large european shoe chain, and copyright issues and production quality is something i have to deal with every day. Taking inspiration from and in turn inspiring other shoe brands is widespread not only among high street chains, but also big designer brands. But to photoshop another company’s press photos or outright steal designs from struggling, independent designers I think most companies would consider bad business sense. In fact, the reason why the offending photo has been removed from the website is probably related to Steve Madden finding themselves at the sharp end of a lawsuit.

    As for value added to designer shoes, i think it is wrong to asume that all production in the far east is done with little effort and little regard for the workers’ wellbeing. We produce both in Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal etc) and the Far East, and our code of conduct applies to all our suppliers, no exceptions. In recent years China has become far more comitted to this issue, and conditions for workers are improving and should keep getting better. Just like Italy, China is dependent on this production and the government is slowly getting wize to what it really takes to sustain a big business like this.

    Also, production in the far east is no less labourious than in Europe, the same basic elements of production apply here … design, paper pattern, cutting dice, outsole mould, lasts etc etc, is all time consuming, and whether inspired by another shoe or it being an original design, the production is just as extensive. The main reason why shoes from the far east are cheaper are, of course, labour and other overhead costs, materials (most of these shoes are made with synthetic materials, as the leather quality in the far east does not compare with that of European leather) and transport costs (more boats and cargo planes leave from big industrial areas, so the prices go down).
    Therefore I think Far East production and to some extent being inspired by other brands is justifiable, after all it is covering a demand in the market.

    As for european production, this has been dwindling over the years, due to the high costs. However, as Miss Shoo pointed out, there is a craftsmanship and an incredible knowledge of shoes in the traditional shoe-making countries that we cannot afford to lose. Both high-quality designer shoes as well as no-brand shoes are produced in these countries, and i don’t think the shoe industry could do without the expertise and quality you can find here. Therefore, it is important for my company to support both. I think designer shoes to some extent justify the price tag because without this kind of production making good quality leather shoes would be dificult, and it would take the far east a while to gain the kind of shoe-making culture you find in europe. Designer shoes, like all other shoes have a mark-up of at least 2,5-3,5 times the production and transportation costs, so if you add the extra money these brands will have to pay to open a new last and outsole for maybe only 5000 pairs (in most cases you have to guarantee 20 000 pairs) as well as the little extra the consumers want to pay for a brand name, the prices aren’t so unrealistic.

    At the end of the day i’m sure the Louboutin design team aren’t so upset about the actual shoe (but probably the photo!). After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

  20. The Charlotte Allen November 29, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    Carrie’s right–the Becks are gone from the Steve Madden website, which to me suggests, ahem, a guilty conscience. But here’s the cache (just for fun):

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:Pe1GW7wHQ6EJ:www.stevemadden.com/BECKS-BLACK-PATENT+steve+madden+becks&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a

  21. class factotum November 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    Warning — strong political opinion coming:

    Manufacturing in Italy costs a lot, for a number of reasons, one being the socialist infrastructure (universal health care, state-sponsored day care, and it’s really, really difficult to fire people in Italy, not to mention the cost of craziness all through public systems that we take for granted in North America).

    I am willing to pay more for superior quality and craftsmanship. I am not willing to pay solely to support outrageous tax policies that punish the producers, stifle entrepreneurship and good business practices and pass money to those who do not work.

    At least the Chinese didn’t vote themselves into communism — it was imposed on them at gunpoint.

  22. class factotum November 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm #

    Warning — strong political opinion coming:

    Manufacturing in Italy costs a lot, for a number of reasons, one being the socialist infrastructure (universal health care, state-sponsored day care, and it’s really, really difficult to fire people in Italy, not to mention the cost of craziness all through public systems that we take for granted in North America).

    I am willing to pay more for superior quality and craftsmanship. I am not willing to pay solely to support outrageous tax policies that punish the producers, stifle entrepreneurship and good business and pass money to those who do not work.

    At least the Chinese didn’t vote themselves into communism — it was imposed on them at gunpoint.

  23. wannabe November 29, 2007 at 4:29 pm #

    class factotum:

    You are right it is difficult to do business there and many of the work rules are insane. But having travelled to Italy and talking about China with friends who lived there, there’s no question which society I’d rather live in. Health care, day care, maternity leave and fast, comfortable, beautiful trains I’m happy to subsidize. Viva l’Italia!

  24. raincoaster November 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm #

    The solution to the fact that Italian shoes go to support Italy (if you don’t like Italian politics) is, of course, to buy shoes of equal quality from other countries. If you can’t find any, then the solution is to manufacture them yourself; obviously you know there’s a market. I, myself, have been boycotting China for over a decade, which is quite difficult when you live in Chinatown.

    This discussion is fascinating, to say the least. It stands as the very best example of a civilized discussion I’ve ever seen online.

    But: shoeboots are a fad? Hardly…if they’re good enough for Robin (of Batman And…) they’re good enough for me.

  25. Ninjarina November 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    OMG, I too am so flattered I was mentioned!

    I agree with Raincoaster and wannabe- if you don’t like them, boycott them.

    And no class factotum, Communism, or rather, Maoism wasn’t all forced at gunpoint. Given the choice between Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Ze Dong, they really didn’t have great options to begin with.

  26. enc November 29, 2007 at 6:54 pm #

    I might as well throw my hat into the ring:

    The threshold of what we think something is worth is directly tied to what emotional value the “thing” has for us. We pay accordingly. End of.

  27. enc November 29, 2007 at 7:03 pm #

    And one more thing:

    Let’s talk diamonds. Back when I worked in the industry (5 years ago), I heard in a meeting that diamond rough came out of the ground for

    wait for it

    $5-$8 a carat. Rough.

    The industry flogs 1ct. diamonds for 100 times that price, doesn’t it?

    And we pay, don’t we?

    Emotion = Value?

  28. class factotum November 30, 2007 at 8:59 am #

    The solution to the fact that Italian shoes go to support Italy (if you don’t like Italian politics) is, of course, to buy shoes of equal quality from other countries. If you can’t find any, then the solution is to manufacture them yourself; obviously you know there’s a market. I, myself, have been boycotting China for over a decade

    I said I am not willing to pay more solely to support politics with which I don’t agree. I will, however, pay for quality. I won’t buy Italian shoes because of how they do things; I buy them despite their politics.

    And I share your China dilemma. I don’t want to buy their products because I don’t like how they run their country. I’m not a fan of political prisoners, slave labor, or forced abortions.

    Wasn’t Chiang Kai-shek the guy who went on to run Taiwan? I’d rather live in Taiwan than anywhere in China.

    And agreed — I’ve been to Italy (but not to China), but I’d still rather live in Italy, even though I found it absolutely maddening to try to get anything done. If I did, however, I would spend a lot of time evading the tax man, which I believe is a national sport, and being ticked off at generous maternity leaves, as I once worked in an office in Chile where two of the five people who worked there were on long maternity leaves at the same time. They were paid full salary, so we couldn’t afford to hire temps in their place. Instead, the rest of us had to pick up the slack for over three months. (This was after the one could never answer the door — which required going downstairs — or the phone — which did not — because she “was pregnant.”)

    PS I, too, am very pleased at the civil tone of this discussion, and mean no offense with any of my comments.

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  1. Blogging Business Live, everything about markets! » Archivio Blog » Dissent at the Blog of the Manolo - November 28, 2007

    [...] Mobility Site – Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, and More! wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt Manolo says, this is one of the reasons why the Manolo loves his readers so very much, because even when they dissent from the official Manolo Party Line, they do so in ways that are interesting, polite, and well-reasoned. Here, for the example, is the Manolo’s internet friend Sarah commenting upon the Manolo’s outrage with the Steven Madden peoples. Sorry, I have to go against the grain here. Ever seen those Suave shampoo commercials? Where two women with gorgeous hair flounce around for th [...]