Lets start this one off with a short story and a couple of questions - you're walking down the street and you happen to notice someone, nobody in particular, just a random person that has caught your eye; you look them up and down (all very subtly of course, even if there is saliva dripping from your mouth) and instantly you have made an assumption of what kind of person they are. You haven't formed your opinion entirely on the style of clothes they wear, although you will have taken this into account, you will also have noticed the brands they are wearing. Hands down, we are all guilty, although it isn't really a bad thing; its just a part of our attitude towards fashion and style.
To be able to properly consider associating brands and just how much of an effect it should have on our own fashion and style choices we need to ask ourselves; do we associate specific brands with particular types of people? Does this immediately affect our opinions of them? Can the clothing brand really make that much of a difference to an outfit and should we allow these ideas to influence whether we invest in such brands?
It is fair to say that every single one of us associates different brands with different people. For example, we all link sportswear brands with the packs of polyester clad prats that sit around drinking cider in the park, shouting at passers by. However, things are not always quite this clear cut. Associating a brand depends on many factors like the age group, geographical location and social class. Each generation grows up with a style of its own, with its own particular brands, which, unless you're talking about established companies, will vary substantially. Different places will also take on a style of its own; if you were to go to any of the bigger cities in Ireland then you are likely to find more people embracing diversity and variety to create their looks. In this instance, brands are not important because you wear what you want because it suits your ideas and personality. In smaller cities you will find that brands have more of an influence, as the desire to conform and fit in is much more powerful in places where diversity isn't really as accepted.
It is worth remembering that the level of acceptance within fashion and clothes means brands will enjoy varying levels of influence depending on the place. So you could certainly argue that we will all have preconceived ideas of a person based on what brands they wear simply because we associate those particular brands with that type of person. But how does that affect us? I think it is fairly safe to say that you read a number fashion related articles and that you all take your appearance very seriously. You don't want to look like the slovenly oaf that you saw earlier, dragging knuckles down to the shops for a bag of chips. No, you want to look good whenever you leave the house. Perhaps it is no wonder that you would avoid the brands like the plague that you would associate with such a person, but need this be the case? I think the most obvious and biggest issue with this problem is that you are depriving yourself of the best brands available to you. Of course a lot of people associate brands like Fred Perry with the "chavvy" domain but it is brands like this that come from companies with masses of heritage.
The key with making man brands that you might otherwise avoid is to look past the man or woman on the street and focus more on the brand itself; the image of a skinny chap in tracksuit bottoms, hideous trainers and a brightly coloured polo is not a true representation of what these places can really produce. If you avoid the neon coloured, garish designs you can make use of much more subtle and suitable offerings. A classic Fred Perry, Lacoste or Ralph Lauren pique is far superior to many of the alternatives on the high street and are well worth the investment.
Who you associate specific brands with shouldn't necessarily affect whether you invest in them, unless you have a particular dislike or a company or companies. It is in your best interests to give your wardrobe as much variety as possible, unfortunately mine suffers from an overload of Jack Wills but I really like the brand, its heritage and its products. By avoiding the obvious no go areas and sticking to classic pieces you can create some truly stylish outfits and show your in-depth understanding of brands and their history. Remember that the entire outfit will also affect the influence of the brand in general; a carefully considered timeless outfit will bring out the ride side of the image. You could argue that this is more an issue of stereotyping but the principal still stands; ignore them and fully embrace everything, unless you really, really don't like it.