Veblen defined conspicuous consumption as the use of money or other resources to display social status — but this is done in myriad ways or styles. Seeing hoodies around town displaying the image on the left, I couldn’t help wonder what Veblen would make of this trend — expensive, branded apparel that literally carries the message that status costs money and implies that money buys status. What do you make of this trend? Is there anything new about it?
The above reference to swag refers, of course, to swagger, but “swag” is also a slang term for free stuff (as depicted in this report from Gawker, “I Went to the Pre-Oscar Celebrity Gifting Suites and All I Got Was This Sense of Disgust“). How strange that this term has such radically different meanings in different communities…or is there some common ground?