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Virtuous conspicuous consumption

04 Aug 2021 | OP ED Watch

A number of media outlets ran a recent story that, as the National Post headline put it, “The Catwalk is Growing a Conscience”. Specifically, “As anxiety about climate change and the welfare of garment workers has deepened, the $2.5tn global fashion industry is under pressure from consumers — and increasingly governments — to improve its ecological and social footprint.” Well, maybe. And if so, those odd outfits models wear when the rich and snobby gather might one day be made of pineapple waste or lab-grown mycelium. But the audience will still have flown in on luxury private jets and the models will still be driven in stretch limousines. Virtue-signaling is all well and good, dahling. But there’s only so much one can be expected to do.

In fact the idea that what we now call “wokeness” is new in the fashion industry is a typical product of modern amnesia. Fashion has long been a hive of rebellion against authority on matters sexual, political and sartorial. If you wanted to find a conscience, or at least the wearing on many strange sleeves of something like one, the catwalk would have been a fine place to go in the 1950s or 1970s or even 1920s. To the point that social liberalism is the long-standing, if awkwardly unselfaware, conformity of such non-conformists.

It’s like a recent story that Manhattan restaurant Serendipity 3 now offers the world’s most expensive French fries, at $200 a serving complete with edible gold, to go with its world-record $295 burger and (we are not making this up) $1,000 ice cream sundae. So if we may ask, who do you suppose eats this stuff? MAGA types from Appalachia in overalls and tractor caps? Or impeccably liberal folks, impeccably attired in the latest fashion and so concerned about the plight of the poor that they can barely dip their twice-goose-fried potatoes sprinkled with both truffle salt and truffle oil into their Mornay cheese dip that, of course, is also infused with truffles.

Or Bill Gates giving a talk on climate change to the elite who flock to the investment bank Allen & Co.’s oh-so-exclusive “summer camp for billionaires” in Sun Valley, Idaho in such numbers as to cause a private jet traffic jam. Because one simply must.

Such people may figure they’re so rich that they can afford the exceptional energy requirements of those fries, or that conference, and while the poor might suffer they’re so rich they won’t have to listen to the sobbing. But it’s not a good look.

On the subject of sacrifices by trendy people, a story out of San Francisco says that computer manufacturer Dell is now refusing to ship high-end gaming computers to California (or Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont or Washington state, all deep blue and deep climate-alarmist) because their requirements exceed local power consumption regulations. As Eric Worrall observed sardonically, “Obviously the most elite gamers would sneer at the idea of buying rigs off Dell, or buying any pre-made rig, they are much more likely to assemble their own water cooled overclocked monstrosity in their mum’s basement.” But one wonders whether anyone saw it coming and whether it will turn out that even this sacrifice is too large.

It’s all fine and good being beautiful people with beautiful opinions to go with the beautiful clothes and sophisticated foodstuffs. But at some point a conscience has to be more than a lifestyle accessory.

One comment on “Virtuous conspicuous consumption”

  1. I just love these articles. There is nothing quite like making mincemeat of hypocrisy and - it goes without saying - bad science. Finding you has changed my own outlook completely and gives me a good few much-needed laughs (of disdain, of course). Keep going, CDN. Sanity rules.

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