Pop Culture and Student Life

    Popular culture essentially dictates itself, yet is completely random. Trends are unpredictable, and occasionally happen unintentionally. Whether or not we choose to admit it, we are consumed by fads, saturated in self image, which is far from “self.” We are not as in control as we like to believe we are and also, people are largely driven by the desire to be accepted. Things largely become popular through celebrity endorsements or brand recognition. Nike has become one of the largest clothing companies in modern history. Originally sportswear, the brand is now a powerful force that dominates pop culture. Consumerism has turned purpose into perception, with popularity driving the markets rather than usefulness. Style comes from the opinions established by the masses.

    What is “cool” is typically defined with some sort of celebrity influence. One example is the surge in popularity that Timberland brand boots recently experienced. Highly motivated by rap culture, the demand (and price) of the boots rapidly increased. Track suits were all the rage in the 90’s, leg warmers and neon was a symbol of the 80’s, these trends can span a decade, or sometimes a few months. What you wear is often perceived as a status symbol to the outside world.

    Celebrities and partnerships can bring fortunes to a brand. This applies to a world of things outside of clothing. Gatorade gets a boost from sponsoring the NBA, NFL, and many other sports leagues. Apple has deals with many celebrities.  NASCAR lives off of sponsors. Celebs often sign endorsement deals with automakers, makeup brands, hair-care products, food and drink companies, and more. In the past (and still today), it was mostly through TV commercials and agreements to talk positively about the brand that endorses them. Today, this is still done, but many companies have taken to social media to boost sales and connect with consumers. Marketing is made up of a large team of specialists, who deal with the many aspects of consumerism.

    High school is a hotspot for trends to be showcased. People shop with brand in mind. George Fournier, senior says that “If you wear knock-off clothes, you risk being called out.”  Fashion is self-expression, but it is dominated by what is deemed “in.” This comes at a cost. Generally, people are willing to pay top dollar for name brand items,  as opposed to nearly identical products of a lesser brand at much cheaper prices. Mikhail Jacobson, senior, feels that this is due not to differences in quality, but because “the logo of the brand increases its value to most people.” Being a well-respected and established name helps a lot. If a brand is already a household name, it is more likely to stay that way, because a change in pattern may be uncomfortable to try, and in turn, is deemed unnecessary to do.   

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brandonyoung@shorian.org

I am a senior this year. I have been on The Shoreline staff for all four years of high school.