Depressionista? I Object!

I've never before voiced my opinions on fellow bloggers' posts. We all of course are entitled to our own opinions and views—that is until they become harmful to society. The term depressionista, coined by The Budget Fashionista, Kathryn Finney, in her recent article sounded more like a grossly irresponsible statement rather than clever copy writing. Despite the catchy name, we're not in a depression until the government or our economists say so.

In economics, a depression is a sustained, long downturn in one or more economies. It is more severe than a recession, which is seen as a normal downturn in the business cycle… A sustained recessionary period in which the population is forced to dispose of tangible assets to fund every day living, as was seen in the US and in Germany in the 1930s. (Wikipedia)

Even though most of us (especially in media) happen to be broke, we are still far from the bleak lugubriousness that characterized the Great Depression. As if traditional media hadn't already made enough effort to create panic among consumers, throwing around terms like "depressionista" only perpetuates fear and pessimism.  I see us--independent media publishers and bloggers—as having the same responsibilities towards the masses we influence with our writings as our traditional counterparts. Words such as "depression" don't add much value to our readers, although they definitely might help Wal-Mart's bottom line this season.

This brings me to my first question: why would a blogger/reporter/publisher openly endorse one retailer over another? Sure, we all have our favorite stores (mine happen to be Net-a-Porter, although I have never able to afford a single purchase there), but it certainly wouldn't be ethical to endorse Net-A-Porter as the only online designer shopping destination. This is where we draw the line between advertorial and editorial content.  To maintain integrity, advertorial content should be compensated and clearly labeled as such.

The next claim, stating that Wal-Mart is a more fashionable destination while comparing it to Target, which "was still pushing Proenza Schouler to folks who frankly didn't care" is going too far. First off, Target ignited a veritable revolution when they created their "GO International Program" which brought on high-end designers to create capsule diffusion lines for the retail giant.  Secondly, the idea that Target customers "didn't care" is patently wrong and misleading.  Target's Proenza Schouler line famously sold out nearly as soon as it hit store racks.

Coming from a "budget fashionista," it doesn't seem to make much sense to criticize a store for making high-end brands available at mass-market prices while in the same breath suggesting that someone like Marc Jacobs to create a Wal-Mart line.  The last thing a working mom shopping at Wal-Mart needs is an asymmetric ruffled dress or a pair of harem pants.

Lastly, I would like to call my fellow bloggers to take a bit more responsibility for the words we put out there so easily these days. Many times we don't realize how much power we have in setting trends and shaping opinions. Replacing the term "recession" with "depression" and openly endorsing Wal-Mart, Kmart or whoever it might be doesn't add much to our collective integrity. 

As for the economy – I like the statement of John D. Rockefeller during the Great Depression: "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again."


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