"We buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like." (Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club). I'm going to break my answer into two parts. ! 1) Does Carrying Or Owning A Branded Item Signal Status? Yes and no. Economists term this phenomenon of spending on luxury goods as "conspicuous consumption"'. Conspicuous consumers revel in the obvious brand recognition that comes with their purchases and will sport readily identifiable luxury goods as an indicator of their affluence . It's like a subtle flex to show everyone that they've "made it in life". We can see this phenomenon happening on Orchard Road where youths in their twenties are somehow walking around in sneakers that cost upwards of S$5,000 on the resale market. ! Fashionably dressed women carry questionably tiny, leather backpacks with huge brand logos emblazoned on them. ! You'll also be familiar with the loud screech of tires as a driver makes the 10m dash from one traffic light to another in a S$800,000 Ferrari. Which you can also easily do under the same amount of time... In an $80,000 Toyota Vios. The more recognisable the brand and the louder your possessions are, means the more likely that you're the shizz, right? Not exactly . For members of the general public who recognise what you're wearing, then sure. But they might not be thinking that you've made it . In fact, they might entertain thoughts like: - Sure bo... Is it fake? - Where does this person get the money? I bet he or she sells cocaine for a living. - This person confirm plus chop broke AF. Now in the eyes of the cognoscenti (people in the know), it'll be different. When it comes to luxury or branded goods, the more obvious they are, the less affluent or socially well connected the wearer or owner is likely to be . P.S. I'm looking at you, financial advisors, wealth managers, and insurance agents who wear Hermes belts. ! By the way, that's NOT part of their uniform or a gift for having graduated from (H)arvard. You too can own one for a mere S$2,000. The social elites are used to luxury in all its forms and will know that you're carrying a Bottega Venata without being told. ! See? No visible branding at all. Unless you recognise the pattern of the woven leather. I would even say that it's a social faux pas in their circles to be seen in an outfit that is informed by the aesthetics of Ed Hardy and Von Dutch. Remember this? ! So the truly wealthy elites will appreciate that you're listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons in your car because they have the cultural knowledge to appreciate it. They will recognise that the painting on your wall is a Matisse without needing a 24K gold plaque next to it that screams where it's from. And they will appreciate that super soft £59.00 (S$104) plain white Sunspel T-shirt that you're lounging at home in, because they too, have 10 of the exact same T-shirts... Which they use as pyjamas. However, the general public might not be able to discern the difference . They will probably be able to recognise an Off-White T-shirt (costs S$500 on average) because it says "Off-White" on the back, front, sleeves, hem... You get the picture. ! Or know that a bag is Louis Vuitton only because it screams LV all over. And will probably not recognise its more discreet, and sometimes higher quality counterpart, which costs $500 more and looks like a plain, black bag. So, Does Carrying A Branded Item Signal Status? Yes, but you'll need an easily recognisable one in order to appeal to the general masses in order to maybe get their validation (y tho?). But seriously, they may or may not appreciate your 'taste' fully to understand why you spent $5,000 on a pair of shoes. And also, no, because that overtly branded luxury good will only signal your poor taste and lack of cultural knowledge to the social elites or those in-the-know. So why even bother? 2) What Do You Think Is Worth Spending Money On? I've established that splurging on luxury or branded goods is a relatively poor investment when it comes to showing off your wealth and status. Now, let's look at the commonly held theory that a reputable brand makes better quality items. Is that true? Well... Most of the time at least. Unless you can tell the difference between full-grain leather (read: not treated to remove imperfections), nubuck leather, or pleather (plastic that is made to look like leather). You're not going to be able to discern the actual value of a S$500 leather wallet, when in reality it probably costs: - S$100 to make it - S$200 to slap on a ridiculously huge logo, and a - S$200 mark up (for the lols) just to see if anyone is stupid enough to buy it ! What I'm trying to get at is this: Buying from a reputable brand does not necessarily mean that you're getting a high quality product . You still have to be discerning enough to tell the difference in the quality of materials used FIRST. And then have the discipline to ask yourself if it is really worth splurging S$1,000 on a handbag when a S$100 one would also serve the same purpose. Yes, I know the the more expensive one is probably nicer. But nicer for who? You? Or for the people who will see you carrying it? And hey, that additional S$800 that you didn't spend on the handbag could be better spent on: - Self-improvement (eg. coding classes to get that dream job you've always wanted) - Experiences (eg. a holiday with family and loved ones) - Saving for your retirement at 55 But that's not to say that we can't buy nice things for ourselves. Heck, who doesn't appreciate the finer things in life? We just need to remember to spend within our means and not reach for things outside of our financial lane.