What does your branded tote say about you? Nothing good. Whether it came with a subscription to an independently published magazine or as a goodie from the photo booth at the last Frieze Art Week, it’s clear that being a representation of the brand mattered more than its overall look and design. Of late, canvas tote bags have replaced graphic tees and coffee mugs as a lowest-common-denominator corporate freebie. More practical, sustainable, and pervasive than designer handbags, what they lack in quality they make up for in semiotics. Logos printed on the unbleached material carry a message: “I’m trendy, but safe; low-maintenance with a hint of pretension.” Without spending a dime, those who don these shoddy shill sacks can candidly promote which snobbish subculture they belong to—or at least which one they aspire to. It is this fact that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That an item intended to be an ecofriendly fashion statement is just a cheap ploy by companies to round up target-market lemmings and turn them into its useful idiots. They’ve made Nascars out of you. How does it feel?
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