Striving for Simplicity

Heard of the phrase, “Easy reading is damn hard writing”? It’s too familiar to miss. But here’s something (and different altogether) that you may have missed: Simple living is expensive.

Before you think Gandhi, think of the last time you browsed online for a pair of flip-flops. I last did it last night. A solid black rubber flip-flop costs INR 700 ($10) while a fancy, multicoloured, studded pair of women’s footwear costs INR 300 ($4).

True story.

Maybe it’s just footwear I thought, moving onto tee shirts. Again, the plain ones cost more than the printed, designed, and layered ones.

I didn’t understand the difference in pricing. But it’s a fact: Being simple is expensive. And the weird thing is, it shouldn’t be this expensive at all. Look at Gandhi, for instance. That man symbolised simplicity, and it doesn’t look like it cost him much. Except, perhaps, the initial cost of the spinning wheel. Nevertheless, he taught the world that minimalism is simplicity and less is more. And yet, despite all the history and the lessons, it still costs me double to buy simple clothes than it does to buy flashy clothes— or even footwear. Less is more, except in pricing.

I blame Gandhi. He made simplicity the new cool. It’s the trend, the hip, the new classy. Nowadays more and more people prefer classy over glossy. Everyone wants to look minimal. Everyone runs towards a “simpler lifestyle.” And to wear something flashy in the presence of the “minimalists” is uncool and unacceptable. And if the cost of being accepted is a few extra notes, people will pay.

So because the modern lifestyle is the simple lifestyle, brands seize their opportunity. They make simple-looking products, give it a clean finish, and put a hefty price on it. And because simplicity is now synonymous with classy, and classy is synonymous with expensive, anything flashy becomes trashy and cheap. And all this I realised when I saw that cheap-looking footwear had a pricier tag than sleek-looking footwear.

As for Gandhi’s simplicity, it’s a goner, just like the advocate. Simple, now, means expensive brands, single-coloured clothing, and fancy converse. The more expensive your attire, the more casual you appear, and the more casual you look, the classier you feel. Actual casual is now a casualty.

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