Portmanteau Commentary: International oufits

Feeling French
I was waiting for the train when it noted I was feeling very French today. This may have been triggered by having my outfit liked by my French housemate and a bold and happy "Bonjour!" from a stranger on my way to work. Yes, in London! Barely believable and barely legal. It got me to thinking about my outfit, and I thought that a crane-gray vintage high collared long sleeved silk dress with a cream linen jacket, a pair of cream, rose, gray infused moc croc ballerinas and a gray and dark cream sixties hat and cream brown purpoise shell rimmed sunglasses and maybe also the brown gray linen longchamp bag did look French.

Designer Nationality
It then struck me that it was indeed Italian more than French when considering the origin of their designers. The dress is Armani, the ballerinas Arezzo (Brazilian), the heels Prada, the sunglasses Calvin Klein (American), the hat was made by an italian couture boutique whose name I don't remember as I stupidly removed the label a long time ago, the Jacket Nicole Farhi and the bag Longchamp (French) as mentioned before. That makes my outfit Brazilian, American, French but most of all Italian.

Production Origin
I then wondered where the outfit was actually made. Once I got to the office, I checked: To my surprise and admitted displaced disappointment, each item was "made" in the same country as their design, except the Calvin Klein glasses (American designer), which were made in Italy! This does exclude the possibility of adding additional countries to make my outfit seem international, which actually brought up an entirely separate point. In that respect the outfit helped me avoid the widely debated issue of production location.

Product Identity
The point is: what is it that defines the identity of a product? Is it the user, the designer, the producer, the cultural attachment or its context? A lazy way to answer would suggest that they all are contributing factors. A careful way to answer would be that it depends on the piece itself as well as the degree of existing value attachment that culturally exists in relation to the origin and context of a product. Is the label as important for a less known, still high end quality product as its fabric or origin?

My answer is that the dependable strongest variable is that which is given most value. If the quality is higher than, in comparison, the knowledge of the products brand, producer or designer, that is what carries most weight. If the context or narrative of the product carries more weight than everything else, this becomes the main value factor. For example, a vintage, inherited or personal favourite could outweigh the value of a piece being made of silk or being designed by Chanel and made in France.

"It belonged to my grandma", "It's silk", "I wore it to my graduation", "It's Chanel", "It goes well with my outfit"...
The value can easily be discovered without a complicated maths equation. Just ask yourself what would be the first thing you think of saying when talking about the piece?

In this case, my value was strongest on the context and combination of the origin. The cultural idea and pre conception of what French fashion is and the narrative involving French reaction to my outfit surpassed the value of it's make, origin, designers or my own identity. Assuming the latter is not defined by my outfit - which is another debate for another time.