Chillin’ Even When I’m In A Goose Down Coat: That’s “Cool”
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The perception of cool is always changing, it’s almost an endless wave of trends, mixed and matched and brought back from past eras to re-create new trends. The reason I say almost, is because there are innovations that break out every once in a while, delivering something new. In the last century post-industrialism spurred a relatively new concept in all developed countries called consumerism: “a historically unique form of society in which consumption plays an important role, if not central role” (O’Brien, Szemen 355). Unfortunately for consumers, we live in a free market capitalist society that can be a dangerous place for an unsuspecting consumer. Marketers have used advertising to create identity through modes of consumption. Using consumption/trend data they categorize markets and attempt to cater to them individually (market segmentation) or universally (O’Brien, Szemen 362). “You” marketing is an example of how marketers advertise to a wide range of market segments (Macleans). This creates pseudo-individualization: the false pretences of expressing individuality through consumer products when really it is mass-produced, something we buy into every day.
“The High Cost of Campus Cool” is dated, yet what is “cool” is constantly evolving and the term “cool” itself is timeless. Nine years have passed since this article was published, and their has been countless deaths, births, trends, scandals, songs and events that have taken place in popular culture, all taking their turns as the “cool” thing that occurred since then. A prime example of this can be drawn from “The Coolhunt”, “this was about the time the cool kids had decided they didn’t want the hundred-and-twenty-five-dollar basketball sneaker with seventeen different kinds of high technology materials and colors and air-cushioned heels anymore” (Gladwell 360). The change in “cool” shifted during that year from the basketball shoe to a minimalist canvas and vulcanized rubber shoe, best known as the Converse One Star (Gladwell 360).
These shifts in trends are so common to us that they often go unnoticed, at least until the trend comes around again. For example the bell-bottom jean that was popular in the 1960’s-70’s and infamously came back in the 1990’s as the “flare” or “boot cut”. These changes can be seen when comparing “The High Cost of Campus Cool” and “The Current Campus Cool”, for instance the Sony MiniDisc Walkman with head phones is third in ascending order: Walkman, Discman, MiniDisc Player, Mp3 Player and now IPod, Presenting three intervals of a “cool” in portable music listening devices between 2001 and 2010. This evolution reflects the innovation of technology and how far it has come since 2001. From a consumer perspective the price of technology has drastically decreased from three thousand dollars to eleven hundred for an apple computer. One of the variables this exemplifies is the fundamentals of economics in which the quantity of a good increase in the market place the price of the product decreases.
When comparing “The High Cost of Campus Cool” to “The Current State of Cool”, consumer culture and identities at McMaster illustrate differences in the time periods of these two articles. Beginning with the monetary side of things it’s clear that in today’s economy it is much cheaper to buy “cool” than it was in 2001. Solely due the high inflation rates in 2001 caused by economic conditions compared to the present. “The Coolhunt” reaffirms the concept of how “cool” is constantly evolving/changing. Who would have thought that someone’s job title could be “Cool Hunter”, the demand for positions like this have a direct correlation with the current consumer culture that has evolved. Large corporations, who have a lot of capital to mass-produce, hire cool hunters to define current/future trends in order to make a profit. They mass produce trends and create pseudo individualization in society. This leads to counters-cultures that are subcultures, who create cultural resistance. Examples of these cultures are: grunge, punk, rock, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, and urban, and the list can go on. Each one portrays some form of counter-culture in which a trend/style has originated from.
When it comes down to it, even if the social norm were to not to wear clothes and be naked all the time, some people would naturally be “cooler” than others. Through there identity and how well they associated with people. To look “cool” and to be “cool” are very different. There is always a cost associated to looking “cool”, like the article. Where being “cool” is a character trait. This is because being “cool” is subjective and only a majority can decipher what is “cool”. The most interesting aspect of “cool” is that it is hit or miss. It’s not something that can be bought or mass-produced it’s an essence a type of charismatic leadership.
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