29 July 2011

Cheap Commodities

 As the author of this blog, I'm constantly amazed by the amount of junk and freebie offers come into my inbox from pr firms. Many of them get junked right away, like the ones that just outright ask me for a free plug. Others get read, if it seems to be something that might be of interest. A small few get a response and maybe give me something to review. These offers I gladly accept, with no guarantee of endorsement, but mostly I ignore this stuff. Lately, I've been flooded with stuff about swimsuits. When the currently "it" brand Orlebar Brown contacted me recently, I nearly asked for a sample. After all, these do look like nice trunks, and a lot of people are drooling over them.

I was particularly interested in this pair, the classic "bulldog" as they call it. A nice short inseam, pockets, and old school side tabs, available in good looking colors. But ultimately, I decided to leave this one alone. You see, the trunks in the photo above retail for $240, and there is no way I could recommend such a thing in good conscience. No matter how much disposable income you may have, spending such a sum on swim trunks is unforgivable, no matter how nice they may be. Allow me to explain.

A few weeks prior to being contacted by the semi-clueless pr firm hired to shill these outlandish trunks I had purchased these two new from Lands' End. True, I may make a lifestyle out of living in other peoples old stuff, but swim trunks, like underwear, should be new. These were on sale at the time for $24.50 each, available in a flight of classic, bold colors. They feature side pockets and one hip pocket, just like the Orlebar Brown trunks, plus a very comfortable mesh lining constructed without a seam up the middle, which is, you know, comfortable. They're made of space age quick dry material, just like the Orlebar Brown trunks. True, they eschew fancy side tabs and a zippered fly for the standard draw string waist, but who cares?

In fact, with their six inch inseam and vibrant colors, they are every bit as classic and old school as anything. They're comfortable and stylish, and they look well with an old white or navy blue tennis shirt and battered canvas sneakers, my full beach uniform. They dry quickly, and I don't tend to mind wearing them like a pair of shorts most of the day if that's how it turns out. I guess the main difference lies in marketing. Good old Lands' End doesn't seem to be looking to rape the last vestiges of this preppy trend whore market we currently find ourselves in, and as a result, they garner my respect...and they didn't even give me a freebie. From where I stand, Orlebar Brown seems to be making a fast buck on the fashion worlds obsession with Steve McQueen and everything a size too small. Don't fall for it.

To be fair, I've never actually seen an Orlebar Brown bathing suit, but I can't for the life of me figure that it could be ten times better than these ones, given that they cost ten times as much. Maybe I just can't see the point of fancy swimwear. It's not a suit, after all. Maybe, being married with two kids, I'm not so concerned with impressing people at the beach. Maybe I just can't believe anyone would pay $240 for swim trunks. If you frequent the beach in Summer, as I like to do, a good couple of bathing suits ought to be a cheap commodity. Take the money you save and spend it on beer, hot dogs, lemonade, ice cream, and sunscreen.

p.s. fresh items available in the Shop


Rebecca said...

"Amen!" (In my case, you're preaching to the choir here! Keep it up!)

Anonymous said...

Well done. You are dead on. Yes, they're nice...but $240?!?! Who would pay that except for the Neiman Marcus croud? Your analysis is spot on, my good man.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe its that you have common sense.

Raquel said...

Do you really think rape is an appropriate analogy for overpriced clothing items? You're certainly not the first man I've heard/read make this type of statement so I don't mean to point it out as if you created it. But it would be great if you didn't continue using it.

While I agree that those swim trunks are absurdly priced and likely trying to reap the rewards of targeting the crowd you mention, there is nothing about that situation that is comparable to rape. You are not being forced to do anything against your will. You can decide to buy another pair of shorts (as you demonstrated) or buy nothing at all! You have a choice. Someone who gets raped does not.

I've read your blog quite a bit for a few months now and generally enjoy the time I spend doing so. After this post, however, I'm less inclined to return.

Giuseppe said...


I appreciate your feelings, but if you look up the word rape, you'll find that forced sexual intercourse is not the only definition of the word.It also means "to plunder or pillage". That's what some of these brands are up to as I see it.

I don't mean to get involved in an argument of semantics, especially on such a touchy subject, but I would never suggest that selling an overpriced swimsuit is in any way akin to an act of physical violence.

Young Fogey said...

Sell-out! Poseur! Shill!

(sound of tongue being removed from cheek)

There's nice, and then there's ridiculous. I think you've explicated the difference admirably.

P.S.: Excellent response.

Claude said...

Raquel makes a good point, of course. Reconciling social justice and traditional menswear is easier for some than others. Well handled R. and G.

My wife recently gave me a pair of Land's End 6" with a great tropical red/white pattern (which I picked out). A fine swimsuit indeed, and my first in many years.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Raquel; rape is too loaded a word to be used in this context.

As for the cost of the trunks - they are out of my price range for beachwear but plenty of others have money to burn. If the style and quality appeals to the buyer then I have no issue. I don't know anything about this company or where it manufactures - hopefully they pay their staff well and provide good benefits and are not another company that charges a premium while manufacturing in the third world for a pittance.

notanymore said...

Much like your aviator post, this is why I frequent the blog and continue to do so, G. There is much to be said about springing for an item that is timeless and has serious longevity, but those items are extremely few and far between.

Not only do you recognise that swim trunks aren't one of them, you were ethical enough NOT to give into the "ooh shiney."


Young Fogey said...

Look, what Raquel and Anon 5:11 are saying is that rape is a feminist-owned concept, and that no metaphorical usage is allowed. Nonsense!

The crime of rape is horrible. What most people don't realize is that it can be committed not only by men, but also by women; furthermore, man-on-man rape is a horrific problem in prisons.

Even so, using it metaphorically is no "worse" than using murder or hell metaphorically.


Lark said...

Don't personally care to describe things as "rape" that are not sexual assault - regardless of the dictionary definition, I've talked to too many women who find it unpleasant and uncomfortable. No point in causing that kind of discomfort in many women when other strong language exists.

The only reason I'd see for expensive swim trunks is labor - if I can afford it, I'd rather buy a pricey pair made by well-compensated workers than by sweatshop labor. But price is no guarantee of that.

Johnny said...

"I appreciate your feelings, but if you look up the word rape, you'll find that forced sexual intercourse is not the only definition of the word.It also means 'to plunder or pillage'. That's what some of these brands are up to as I see it."

Then you should recheck the definitions of plunder and pillage.

"I don't mean to get involved in an argument of semantics, especially on such a touchy subject, but I would never suggest that selling an overpriced swimsuit is in any way akin to an act of physical violence."

Yes you would -- and did. Pillage and plunder both mean, by definition, to steal something by physical violence.

I'm not even getting into the appropriateness of using "rape" as a metaphor, which I think is fine, but I can certainly understand why others would object.

Pillage and plunder are technically more inappropriate terms than rape, because neither pillage nor plunder have any metaphorical use that I'm aware of.

You may find people voluntarily paying $240 for a pair of swim trunks wastefully extravagant (I do too), but the company is neither pillaging nor plundering those people; they're selling them honestly-advertised (as far as I know) goods in a peaceful, voluntary, mutually-beneficial transaction.

Giuseppe said...

Yikes, everybody.

Bathing suits, remember?

John said...

Personally, I feel that an elastic waistband on a swimsuit adds about 10 years and 15 pounds to the wearer. However, spending more than $200 for a swimsuit subtracts about 100 IQ points from the wearer. The take-away: find something nice that fits and does not have an elastic waistband for less than $40 and you will be set (lots of sales right now out there for swimsuits).

Anonymous said...

pil·lage  : to take as booty

booty : any prize or gain.

2. to rob, despoil, or fleece: to plunder the public treasury.
3. to take wrongfully, as by pillage, robbery, or fraud: to plunder a piece of property.
7.anything taken by robbery, theft, or fraud

Looks good to me.

Anonymous said...

I have bought elasticated shorts which, after washing, rendered the elastic on a perma-stretch. I cut the elastic, removed it and added a drawstring. Huzzah.

Anonymous said...

I find that people like Raquel are way too easily offended. In the context of the word "Rapes" use, it is easy to see that it was not used in an illicit manner.

The world is much too politically correct. We would all be much better off if we didn't have to walk on eggshells to avoid offending one another.

As for the swim trunks, I feel far to young to go without the draw string. If the lands end offered the length and colorways with the draw string, I'd be more inclined to purchase their swim trunks.

Also, I tend to fall on the smaller scale of things. I'm afraid lands end sells wares that cater to a slightly bigger audience.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

Quickly, Brother Giuseppe... post something new before the tangenteers navigate you astray!

Giuseppe said...

It's a drawstring, not an elastic.

YWP...I'll have soemthing up this evening, something so innocuous only those interested in content will be offended.

gentleman mac said...

Are cutoff blue jeans offensive?

Anonymous said...

The OB suits are gorgeous. No, I'd not buy one. The price is crazy. Comparing them to the suits from LE however, is ludicrous. The LE trunks have no style whatsoever. They're worth about $20, So it's not like you got some killer deal there. And LE has horrible quality. I know, I've bought enough from them that I've now sworn them off for good. Can't speak to OB's quality as I've never seen their stuff in person.

Re style, the elastic band alone rules the LE shorts out for me. And rying to compare the two by looking at the parts (the pockets, etc) is just sad. With that approach, I could make he case that a chevy aveo is as good as a mini cooper because they both have wheels and doors and come in similar colors. -PB

Giuseppe said...

People have style, and the stylish ones don't need an expensive pair of trunks to prove it.

As for cars, I'm of the opinion that they are all relatively the same. They have doors, and seats and wheels, and they either get you where you're going or not. Mini coopers and the like are only good for impressing strangers with what you can afford as you pass them on the highway. Then again, I'm not a car guy, so what do I know?

tintin said...

I agree. Rape is just not the right word here. Bent over and humped up the butt would seem far more appropriate.

W said...


How can you be so confident in OB's trunks if you have never even seen them in person?

Joey Dee said...

Have not been to AAW for some time, and thought i would visit and post on an older entry.
I agree with you sir about the madness in pricing of luxury goods; and there are other things in this life more relevant than dropping a small fortune by 2011 standards on a pair of swim trunks. However, I would snatch these up in an instant if i found them end of season for $25-$40, and no more.