“Not Your Grandfather’s…”

What an odd statement.

You’ve all seen it countless times in catalogs and with online retailers.

“Not your grandfather’s…”

Usually, these three words are used by Very Impressive Marketing Minds to describe their products, often run-of-the-mill clothes, and cast them in a light that seems new or interesting to the customer.

Whether intentionally or not, these same marketers are thinking “Surely, our customers don’t want to look like, or even be associated with, their grandfathers! Talk about lame!”

And sometimes the line works. We read that copy under the product and automatically think that it’s an improvement over something that must have plain sucked before.

“Pants with STRETCH, you say?!”….

The phrase “not your grandfather’s…” taps into our insecurity of being old. And when we think of old people, we think “Yuck! I don’t want to look like that! I want to look cool and modern!

To which I say: Really? You don’t want to look like your grandfather? Or more broadly, you don’t want to look like how our grandfathers’ generation looked? You don’t think that generation had style?

That was the generation that weathered the Depression.

That was the generation that trounced the Nazis.

That was the generation that gave us bomber jackets, and khaki chinos, and white undershirts, and grey flannel suits.

That was the generation of beaver-felt fedoras, and full-canvas sport coats, and perfectly proportionate analog wristwatches.

That was the generation of full-cut cuffed trousers, and neckties for Thanksgiving dinner.

That was the generation of getting down to work and creating marvelous things. The clothes accompanying them on that journey were tasteful and well-made.

Are you telling me you don’t want to look like this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

That’s not how you want to look? You think you can devise something that looks better than what that generation wore? You think you can out-cool the Greatest Generation?

You can’t.

Saying something is “not your grandfather’s…” simply means it’s just a worse version of whatever it is. Because chances are it was better in your grandfather’s day.

“Not your grandfather’s suit.” = crappy suit.

“Not your grandfather’s khakis.” = crappy khakis.

“Not your grandfather’s…” is code for fast-fashion junk. In our grandfathers’ time clothes were usually better made and of higher quality materials. I want the stuff I buy to be like what my grandfather had access to.

Whenever I see “not your grandfather’s…” I immediately know that product isn’t for me.

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