Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Five-Letter Word

Hey y’all! What’s crack-a-lackin’?

The other day, I went into Adum, which is what I like to think of as the downtown of Kumasi. It’s actually awesome; the streets are bustling, but not over crowded, and there are many shops. You can pretty much get anything.

I was going to a seamstress to pick up two dresses I had made. Oh, man they turned out so well! I love them! Already busted one out twice!

Anyways, I’m getting off track here. What I want to talk about are the shoe-makers who work where I picked up my clothes.

The seamstress is located inside a small market, with a number of alleyways. As you turn down one of the alleys, your nostrils immediately fill with the smell of paint, glue and burning foam or rubber. As you meander your way through the narrow passage way blocked by tables and chairs and people, you catch some people looking up from their work to stare as you pass. Sometimes you catch some shouts of “obrunyi”.

Okay, I said shoe-makers before, but it’s more of “slipper” or “flip-flop” makers. Tomato, tomatoe right? Anyways, there are many men sitting at tables, either tracing out a foot shape many times over a sheet of foam, painting the strappy part, and other flip-flop making steps. What stood out to me was a man painting a five letter word in silver paint where the heel of your foot would sit. The word? Gucci. Yup, branding. You cannot escape it.

When I first saw it, I smiled and laughed to myself. Hahahaha, foam and plastic Gucci flip-flops. Win.

Now thinking back to it, it made me realize how much people care about brand names. If you can get your hands on a name everyone else recognizes as cool or high-end, you feel a little more powerful (for lack of a better word). Usually cool or high-end means more pricey so by wearing those shoes or sweater you are ultimately saying “Look at me! Look at me! Look what I can afford! Boy, am I stylish!”

Okay, so that’s a bit exaggerated. But, we are definitely drawn to the popular and expensive brands. We are told those are the “good” ones and we will look good and be cool. By who? Media, our friends, and just human nature I think. We naturally want to fit in with our fellow humans.

The other thing about it is it doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have; you still want what everyone else wants. You still want to be cool.

What would you buy? Flip-flops that said Gucci, or Stone? You would most likely not just buy the Gucci ones, but probably pay a higher price too. Oh, and the manufacturing cost is probably the same. From a business perspective, painting Gucci on a pair of flip-flops is much smarter than the word Stone.

 So that five letter word has much more market power than another five-letter word. 

Later days,


  1. I realize that relates to one of my other posts in regards to appearance, but I'm thinking of it in more of a market/business stand point.

  2. That is so true. I think it might boil down to feeling smart as well. Its like, Hey look, I found this Gucci slipper for 10 cedis! I am a great bargain hunter, even though its not actually Gucci. I remember that feeling in my head when I bought a pair of shorts I thought to be were Abercrombie and Fitch, but when I opened them up to put them on, I saw they were Abcromble and Fitoh. It was pretty funny actually. I still have them.

    Anyways, great post Daniela. I really enjoyed reading it.