For Now, Coco Stays on the Tube



While driving down St. Paul Street
(in Baltimore) to pick up my husband from the train station, I heard an advertisement on one of the big hip-hop radio stations in the Bmore/DC area. I can’t quite remember which one it was, since I couldn’t hear the station call numbers. A woman--could’ve even
been a dj personality—was doing a 30-second radio ad for the Coco Chanel movie coming on Lifetime Channel this weekend. Her voice was full of swagger and perfect‘hood pitch: she almost sounded like she was rhyming about how “fly” Chanel gear was and why you should check out the movie.

Hmmm. Radio ads on urban stations for haute couture
fashion…how interesting.

Here’s my take: The dj was not totally wrong. Coco Chanel gear is fly. From the handbags, to
the designer clothes, to the shoes, to the makeup. I have no debate there. And I will probably watch the movie on Lifetime. I will watch it because I am deeply interested in
reading and viewing the lives of those who overcame odds, or thought outside the box to accomplish a goal. In the case of Gabrielle “Coco”Chanel, she completely revolutionized women’s fashion and became an icon. Not mad at her story, I'm a journalist for crepe's sake!

But here’s my issue with the whole radio ad. Why was this ad on urban station in the first place? Are the parent owners of the corporation who own the radio station linked with Lifetime TV Channel—I mean,could it be a situation like Viacom owning BET so everything is regurgitated to promote the other brands? Because for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why
this dj was reppin’ for Chanel.

I couldn’t understand because you and I both know that young
girls and women listen to these radio stations. Obviously, that is who the dj was trying to connect with. The Chanel brand is a high end brand. It is not the same as Nike, Baby Phat or even Ecko. You will do more than come out the pocket to buy a Chanel handbag, many of which are not even sold in department stores; you would have to go to a specialty boutique just to get that handbag.

My take is simply this, and it gets personal. I think the Chanel brand is glamorous, beautiful, classy, all those things. But I cannot afford Chanel. And neither can a majority of the African American women who have contributed to a the current recorded spending level tipping over $350 BILLION
DOLLARS. Yes, that is our buying power. If you don’t believe, check out Target Market News. Those folks are the authorities on black consumer spending. So when I hear advertising targeting a certain market, particularly from a brand who:

  • rarely
    has a black model on the runaway
  • doesn’t even feature black women in its ads (think Nicole Kidman and Kiera
  • doesn’t have a downscaled off-shoot brand for affordable department store prices(think Michael Kors, the Michael collection, or Issac Mizrahi at Target,

But I think the reason Chanel became an icon is not because of the
high end price tag: it is because of the LOOK. The pearls with the knit suits, the simple, clean lines. In high school, my
sister and I would take our meager little earning from working at McDonalds’and city youth corps jobs and not head to the department stores, because we knew we would be cashed out if we bought just a few or even one outfit at the mall. We would go to the thrift stores and spend a ton less because we were creative and
stylish and could always go for the look. Not the brand name itself.

Lord knows it’s harder with young girls of any race or nationality these days, to dare
them to even think about going inside a thrift or consignment store, let alone just saving the money. But our community has a big-time spending and debt problem. I think its high time the younguns understand the wheels behind the machines. They need to understand what they are buying and WHY. Absolutely nothing wrong
with looking fly. In fact, I encourage it. But being fly and broke is killing

Hey, stand for something or fall for anything, right?


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