In regard to the story on kids' fascination with fashion {Metro, Sept. 6}, before our social awareness dawned on most of us in the late '60s, we badgered our parents for such things to wear as Weejuns, Old Maine Trotters, Villager, Ladybug, Peters jackets, anything monogrammed, Bucks, Lees, Macks, Baggies . . . the list went on.

The social consequences of not owning these were the same as they are today. The only thing that has changed is the price tag, though I suspect the price was as relative to what our parents earned as it is today.



I am a foreign exchange student from Germany in the 12th grade at Park View High in Sterling. When I read about the trend of American teens to wear clothes because of their expensive names, I felt a bit uncomfortable. The reason is that exactly the same thing happened in Germany about four years ago. Some teens, including me, began to wear very expensive clothes, and nothing seemed to be wrong with it. The adults were even happy that kids had stopped walking around as if they didn't care about their looks at all.

Money was no problem at the beginning. Parents of the inventors of this style were wealthy enough to pay for their children's increasing need for names. But after Adidas, it had to be Elesse; and after that it had to be at least Fila. Then kids of people with less money also began to wish they could look different from before. These kids probably cared less about the style or look of these fashions than about the social contempt they felt from the kids with the big wallets because they didn't wear all these names.

There was now a new barrier between the youth, a barrier erected by dungaree shirts, Ray Ban sunglasses and Louis Vuitton bags. To be able to look like the rich guys, kids began to steal, to terrorize their parents, to force them to work harder to buy more and more expensive things.

The same situation continues today in Germany. If you speak to someone, the first thing is to see that person not as a human being but as a shop window doll and to search for the signs of designers, adding up in one's mind how much money he spent for his outfit. I hope we do not in four years have the same situation in the States. If we do, it would be new evidence of the fact that we shouldn't be so sure that the mind of a human being is the most perfect and intelligent thing in the world -- is it intelligent to think bad about a person when his only crime is that he can't afford expensive clothes?



The Labor Day weekend produced the usual articles describing the sad state of contemporary high school education, but a related article was about teen-agers' wardrobes. I suggest that if this interest in their wardrobes could be diverted to more scholarly activities, performance of the students would improve. This diversion could be effected by eliminating both parents' indulgence and merchants' seduction.