It is a busy day for the shoppers who are enjoying the heavy discounts on all their favourite brands. Holding it is pure joy, owning it is even better.Christmas has come and gone, leaving in its wake Boxing Day sales that appease the buyer who cannot wait to flaunt his latest purchase. He enters with a smugness around him rivalled only by the satisfied expression on his face. He has obviously not paid attention to all of us who have been waiting for a table at this informal Indian restaurant just off Oxford Street. He holds a ticket that is supposed to open doors regardless of time and place- a huge LouisVuittonpackage that probably contains an item to validate his presence anywhere and anytime. I looked askance at him as he whizzes his way in but to no avail. He pushes his packages ever so slightly across the chair so that it is noticeable before he settles himself. The British royalty, American First Ladies and our very own Benazir Bhutto have been dressed by world famous designers who have then become even more popular after dressing national icons and influential power houses. But there was more to Michelle Obama or Lady Diana than the designers they wore. Their labels came second to their philanthropic acts and charitable deeds that benefitted so many people whose lives were impacted by them Designer brands: a need to some, luxury to others and unthinkable to most. The economic divide is not the debate here but how X,Y,Z brands seem to create an image of superiority in both the wearer and the beholder. It is almost like the brand becomes the person who prefers to hide behind the persona that the bag, belt or shoe allowshim. Like a smokescreen, it masks reality and clouds the vision. Don’t get me wrong, reader. I take no moral position on this matter since consumer decisions are personal choices and usually a result of individual prosperity or a lack of it.However, when these decisions are used to justify a certain kind of behavior, there is room for debate. The British royalty, American First Ladies and our very own Benazir Bhutto have been dressed by world famous designers who have then become even more popular after dressing national icons and influential power houses. But there was more to Michelle Obama or Lady Diana than the designers they wore. Their labels came second to their philanthropic acts and charitable deeds that benefitted so many people whose lives were impacted by them. It was not the dress that defined them, it was they themselves who defined the dress or the hat, if you please. When the belt, shoe, scarf or bag comes before the education and innate class that no designer label can replace, there is a problem. When accessories must talk on your behalf, there is an even bigger problem. And when people judge you on the basis of how expensive your clothes or bags are, it is the worst problem ever, and especially, if the country is a growing and developing country like ours. Theonly label worth seeking if one was actually on the lookout is that of education which will then give you the access to so many other labels and opportunities, so let us not try to get the wrong one first. People profess that wearing their labels gives them more social acceptance and validity. Why have we created such a social fabric that weaves networks and recognition only through the thread of Gucci, Prada and the like? Shouldn’t there be affinity and likeness based on factors such as virtue and deed rather than two straps across the shoulder that shout out wealth, power and superiority? Let drawing room conversation be dominated by knowledge of the world we live in rather than what we possess and what we can buy. Every other person can probably afford to buy more than the first one but let it not become our care and worry. Education lasts a lifetime, but the shelf life of things is very limited. Let us invest where the real riches lie. Published in Daily Times, December 4th 2017.