Did you know that our ‘cultural’ image of a diamond as something connected to an everlasting love comes from nothing more than a 1950s advert? DeBeers, the world’s leading diamond company, is discussed as a case study in the first chapter of the book (pp.1-16). As Olga explains in the book, the 1955 campaign called ‘A diamond is forever’, shot by the famous photographer Irving Penn, was developed to meet the company’s sales strategy: at the time, supplies were at a peak but DeBeers did not want diamonds entering the sales market too quickly as prices would have dropped tremendously. ‘There were too many diamonds’ says Olga. What DeBeers needed was ‘a campaign to tell people never to sell a diamond, so they connected it to love and the wish for love to last forever’.
The DeBeers case study may just resemble a funny anecdote. However, there are imaginaries, qualities and symbols the fashion industry continuously sells that are harmful to us as consumers and highly unrealistic. As DeBeers did with diamonds and love, fashion marketing educates consumers with highly unethical values. ‘It is a proven fact’ says Olga, ‘that fashion advertisement makes us feel not pretty enough, not tall enough, not skinny enough, not white enough, not brown enough’. Fashion products continuously tell consumers that by buying something, they will feel better. It’s like selling hopes.
What is the real problem here? And what is the problem in not knowing this?