Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Neils Boorman - former brand-a-holic has released a book about his passion for brands and how he lived brand-free for a year.

Like many compulsive types, once addicted to designer labels - he took his brand free existence to extremes, too. According to this BBC story, he found that shopping for non-branded and preferably locally produced clothes, food or anything was tough work.

By banning myself from the shops I hoped to cleanse myself of a destructive addiction. But the prohibition became a kind of experiment, I wanted to find out if a person living in modern Britain could survive away from the chain stores and supermarkets that dominate our lives.

The first months of my brand-free life were hell. My local High Streets were populated entirely by mass-market brands and I was forced to scour the back streets for alternative spaces to shop.

I appreciate the experiment and how hard it must be to break the cruel dependency of fashion and brand addiction. He's covered some of his experience on his blog.


I don't live a brand free life. Far from it. I love Finnish design and enjoy my Arabia dishes and Iitala glassware (and Nokia phone). I like brands because it means that suppliers have a reputation and a brand loyalty to maintain - so in theory they keep an eye on quality and sizing and fit should be relatively consistent. A lot of my clothes come from XXXXX, from XXXX when I'm in the US and shoes from XXXXX. I recently bought some onesies from Baby XXX, after having been given some as gifts and discovering that they seemed to be the softest an wash the best. But I scour the stocks and do my best to choose the items with as little writing or brand ID as possible on the clothing. Keep the label on the label. Why should I pay money to advertise their clothes for them?

I not just my own money I don't like to spend on advertising other people's products, I don't even like to do that with gifted items. For instance, VolMom gave me a Baby XXX hat with "XXX" written on it. Cletus won't be wearing that, if there's another hat within reach. And my mother-in-law gave me a little baby jacket from xxxx - an Irish designer (I'm told). She pointed out that it was "a xxxx" in such a tone that implied I should be impressed. Though I know she meant well and the jacket is very nice - now I've noticed the "xxx" embroidered over the heart, I have to say I like it a whole lot less.

My aversion to obvious branding is a little obsessive. But I can directly link it back to the designer craze of the early 80s - the jeans, the shirts with alligators and men riding ponies. I can remember other kids in school making fun of me for not having them. I guess I decided I'd prefer to wear no (obvious) brands at all. Well, other than for the Vols and England football.

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