Rich ≠ Trendy: Morrison’s Media PR

01/12/2019

But it can equal influential, that’s for sure. The media has yet again come to the Coalition’s rescue in the aftermath of one of their greatest defeats yet. What better way to sweep away the incompetence and authoritarianism of your out of touch party than to showcase your totally relatable wife in the media as a fashion influencer!

I know nothing about Jenny Morrison, and if she wants to wear exorbitantly expensive clothing that more than likely came from overseas and probably cost less than a 10th of the sale price to produce, that’s her prerogative. But before you even get into the media aspect of this whole “story”, there needs to be a very clear point made about the fashion industry, and clothing in general.

Expensive items of clothing have nothing at all to do with the value or labour associated with the product. It all revolves around the value of the brand name it belongs to and therefore the status it conveys. The price of a dress or a suit is completely irrelevant beyond making a statement regarding your position on the socioeconomic ladder. I know this, because this year I bought a suit jacket “valued” at $500 for only $30 – keep in mind, that was just the suit jacket on its own. To be sold at $30, assuming there was still profit to be made from such a dramatic price cut, instantly revealed that the story of that jacket probably began in some unsavoury conditions.

I’ve written before about the modern slavery market in my piece talking about the book Addressing Modern Slavery, and there are countless examples of slavery and abuses across a myriad of industries, with clothing and apparel being one of the most commonly known ones. Your expensive Gucci outfit benefits from a massive brand name and PR talking about Italian craftsmen, but the company has been caught out before for using migrant workers to make their products – still in Italy, however, so they get to keep their “authenticity”.

Am I saying that the brands Jenny Morrison has been touted as wearing are tied up in it? No, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and even if they did that is not the fault of Morrison, seeing as everyone is in some way connected to multiple instances of modern slavery no matter how hard we try. What I am saying is that when people talk about “fashion”, it usually tends to be reserved for particular classes, those that can afford to throw money into things with hardly any legitimate value. It also tends to be mired in murky supply chains, a dark underbelly that the veil of wealth creates a bubble around to keep it disconnected.

Being rich does not equate to being trendy. Being rich does not make your clothing choices “influential”, and if it does you are hitting a relatively niche market, because much of the population cannot relate to that lifestyle. That is why I detested buying that suit jacket, and why I’ve not worn it since the occasion I required it. I keep to regular t-shirts and shorts, both of which no doubt have their own tarnished origins, but at least I don’t try to hide that fact, and I have no desire to feel the sense of superiority formal and expensive attire expresses. It disturbed me and made me uncomfortable.

The only thing headlines along the lines of “fashion influencer for the quiet Australians” proves is that the real “quiet Australians”, the real base of the Coalition that Scott Morrison is referring to when he smugly speaks those words, are the rich pulling strings silently in the background. As if such an obvious statement needed any further proof, or that Morrison and his family were so disconnected from the median (not average) Australian needed any either.

That is where this weekend’s media highlight on Jenny Morrison’s fashion comes into play. It is nothing more than PR intended to make the PM’s family more relatable after the Coalition got smacked back in the Senate, delaying both the Medevac repeal and the Religious Freedom Bill and losing the Ensuring Integrity Bill. Others have pointed out just how contrived this story is, making connections between the clothing brands in question (Ginger and Smart and Zampatti), and even the Sydney Morning Herald, who joined the media dregs in reporting this nothing story.

With the above context regarding the fashion industry, combined with the Coalition’s major stumble in Parliament, any positive press regarding the Prime Minister and his family at this stage is nothing more than a transparent attempt to appear more “relatable”. Perhaps something other than clothing worth hundreds of dollars would have been a more prudent option – but what do I know, I sympathise with the plebs.

 

Liked this? Read Addressing Modern Slavery: A Reflection Pt.1

Previous piece: What School History Doesn’t Teach: The Vietnam War

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