Worthy Read: How Fake Luxury Conquered The World

I won’t tell you how I stumbled upon this article by Jake Baruth on SpeedSportLife.com, but I will say it revived a thought I’d had a while ago: especially in America, we’re faking ourselves out when it comes to consuming. Go ahead, read the article on how one decision in the 70’s at GM changed automotive history, then come back and we’ll talk.


For the most part, consuming goods and services has turned away from the literal need for such things and moved towards the emotional need. In Brookfield, we have high schools that turn out remarkable graduates, but for our emotional, unmeasurable need, we’re plunking more than $60 million into upgrades that won’t make any academic difference. In total, the community will pay more than double that price after bonding. Not a dime goes to educators or maintenance staff. Emotionally, this community simply knew the schools needed to be prettier.

Sneakers from K-mart can be had for about $15. They protect your feet, come in a couple of widths, offer proper support. But they’re from K-mart! For the most part they bear no stamp with that information, but they lack the branding tag of Skechers or Nike’s familiar swoosh, so they don’t shout to the world, “Look! I can afford expensive shoes!”

I have a nagging suspicion that we’re headed for decline based on our desire to impress each other. It’s rare to make a new acquaintance that wants to wow me with good works and intellect. Most are quick to judge based on appearance; on the things we conspicuously consume. (Fortunately, there are a few of us who still seek each other out! And there’s the much loved Brookfield Brain Trust…) Our desire for fake luxury is about to conquer us. It will cost us our #1 ranking of the world’s countries.


Let’s call it Fake Luxury – luxury for everybody, which by definition is not luxury at all.

I think Baruth has rolled down a window worth exploring beyond the automotive industry.


  1. Kathryn says:

    Not to argue with your post, which is basically logical whether one agrees with your conclusion or not, but with the one you linked to: it is an interesting story, factually suspect (I’m a native Detroiter), and logically a mess. The author contends, basically, that GM suffered financially because it provided value at every price point. Horse pucky.

    As an aside, I was surprised to learn that skechers is a show-off brand. I’ve only ever bought them at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx! Hip to be square.

  2. I think it’s very relevant. His argument is that Cadillac suffered financially because they diluted the brand. Agreed, it was just one of the issues.

    Remember, my dad’s retired GM, but it’s not that I care one way or another. (Except for the employee discounts of course.)

  3. Kathryn says:

    If Buick diluted the Cadillac brand, the increased sales of Buicks should have made up the difference and more!

    I had one of those top-of-the-line Buicks for a while–it would fly! but you could feel it. A caddy went 0-70 in a few seconds, but the ride was like butter on a hot griddle–even in the back seat it felt motionless.

    My great uncle Herold sold Buicks even during the depression, and they were always loaded. I remember mechanics drooling over the carburetor in grandma’s ’68. I think it had power windows and all the bells and whistles. It wasn’t a 70’s development.

  4. No, I think the problem was Chevrolet, Buick and Oldsmobile all diluted the Cadillac brand. Once the luxury cars weren’t special, everyone thought they were entitled to one. That brought pricing down which lowered revenues. (I know that’s simplistic, but how much space do I have?)

    I grew up handing my father tools as he worked on those kinds of engines. My grandmother drove a Camero. It was a car family.

  5. Ok, your point, I believe, is that we buy things we don’t need and pay more than necessary for them even if we do need them. That can be problematic.

    When I was a child, we used vegetable oil in salad dressing. Olive oil was a luxury. Now olive oil is everywhere. I can buy it at Aldi. I can even buy it inexpensively at Sendik’s. Do I have an inappropriate sense of entitlement to olive oil? Or is the market working in my favor?

  6. Shawn Matson says:

    That’s also part of globalization. And I don’t think this is a “Liberal” sided issue. Brookfielders are the most conservative and some of the biggest spendthrifts.

    I think it’s a cultural phenomenon that hits each and every one of us in one way. Even you have some things like that, Cindy despite your modesty. I do too. It’s part of being an American (sadly).

  7. Shawn, you called me modest! That’s nice. But keep in mind I never claimed it liberal. I just think it’s our demise.

    And yes, sadly. I do find I’m giving up more and more of it the older (aack!) I get, though.

  8. Shawn Matson says:

    There are a lot of things in life I skimp on in order to afford the things I really like. That’s modest to me.