People watching is one of my favorite pastimes when I am out and about. There's never any shortage of interesting or unique people out there. Standing at a display table in a mall or at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market as I have been this week provides plenty of opportunity to watch people as they come and go on the way to do their shopping.
Watching shoppers go by, I'm always amazed by the number of people who wear brand labels on their clothing. It's a continuous stream of Nike, Tommy, Holister, Old Navy, Nautica, etc. For some, this is an unavoidable fact of life in our marketing-saturated society. Personally, I try to avoid being a walking billboard as much as possible. For others however, these labels are an identifier, a way to tell people what "tribe" they belong to or what lifestyle they aspire to. After all, it's hard not to walk into a Nike store and suddenly feel like you can swing a club like Tiger Woods or shoot a layup like Kobe Bryant. And let's face it, who wouldn't want to be toned, tanned, and sexy like a Calvin Klein model?
But what if our labels...that which we aspire to...were character traits rather than designer brands? Is it possible we could replace Adidas, Roots, and Aeropostale with things like Kind, Generous, and Merciful? Just imagine if these labels became more important to us than those of our favorite clothing designers. If we see someone wearing a brand-name sweater we automatically pass a judgement on that person, be it positive or negative, depending on any number of personal factors. But if I saw someone walking down the street with Patient plastered across his chest, I'd be intrigued and would want to know more about how he got that label and where I could get it as well.
Next time I pull on a t-shirt, I'm going to think about what label I'm wearing.