This is one of those books – like Infinite Jest or Manufacturing Consent that I would’ve been much better off reading when it came out, or when I was in my 20s. (Whichever was earlier.)
Reading it today, I can only think that my mind would’ve been blown a lot more comprehensively if I’d encountered the ideas within before precision-strike ads and ‘unbranded’ clothing were such a part of daily life.
The book is important, still, as it provides a good overview of why capitalism is shithouse, in ways the regular schlub can understand because it’s presented through the lens of sneaker consumption. Certainly, it remains a fairly effective prompt to consider one’s own purchasing decisions – to think about the provenance of the shirt on your back or the shoes on your feet, and the fact that it was possibly (or likely) made my someone close to childhood for cents an hour.
That’s not the only thing in here, but for my money it’s the most important. There’s a lot of information about the rise of the brand (as opposed to the product) but it reads almost as quaint these days – in the 20 years since publication, the world has come to be run by brands and logos to the point that it’s pretty difficult to imagine the world without their insidious reach.
In the end, this is an easy-reading trawl through capitalism by paths economic, sociological and philosophical (to an extent). It provokes thought still, even though you probably take a lot of the stuff in here for granted these days. As I say, I should’ve read it long ago, but it still has some thoughtful rewards for the curious reader.