Friday, July 09, 2010

In defense of lawyers with expensive handbags

Normally I like Conor Friedersdorf's blog posts, but this is sexist bullshit:
[W]ere I ever confronted with a lawyer or an agent or some other professional carrying a small leather bag that cost $10,000, I’d immediately conclude that his or her value system is astonishingly perverted, and that he or she lacks the judgment, perspective and ordering of priorities necessary to do business of any sort with me. Even the most hedonistic spendthrift is preferable to the superlatively decadent brand name status whore.
Like Isabel Archer, I don't understand how "hedonistic spendthrifts" are morally superior to "brand name status whores." In many cases, brand names are a rough proxy for quality. To the extent that this is no longer true, the brands themselves lose cache---witness (easily faked) logo bags made from cheaper materials and the consequent demotion of former luxury brands.

And I eagerly await Conor's condemnation of male attorneys who drive shiny new Beemers. Surely a used Toyota or Honda sedan is more than sufficient to get you from point A to point B. And if anyone mentions nice leather interiors, be warned: Birkins? Also nice leather. Would Conor find attorneys with collections of trendy art similarly "whorish"? (Only if they're female?)

A Birkin, by the way, probably also holds value better than a new car.

This is all irrelevant to the actual question of whether the BIGLAW Singapore associate should bring her Birkin to work. (To the extent that it was viewed by any as a faux pas, Isabel's suggestion of attributing the purchase to a relative in retail is a good one.) The social connotations of high-end brands in Singapore are not the same as those conveyed in Washington DC.

Conor's view particularly irrelevant to judge how clients or colleagues in either location would react, as he is unlikely to ever pay BIGLAW rates for legal representation or to work as an associate in the sector. If, through some twist of fortune, he was put in such a position, he won't be able to ferret out the real "brand name status whores" among female attorneys he does encounter, since the most expensive and luxurious brands are unlikely to register on his radar. Instead, he'll be able to pick out marginally fashionable strivers who purchase brands with high name-recognition (or, as he acknowledges, false-positive purchasers of replica merchandise, who may not have bought a fake because they are poor "status whores" but because they like a particular style and lack the means to buy the originator thereof). Well done, Friedersdorf! Give the bourgeois what for!
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