_ As a contrast to life in Pyongyang, I went shopping in Frankfurt. After-Christmas/end-of-season/desperate-to-generate-turnover sales are underway.
I prefer to buy things at a reduced price, and I tend to wear clothes and shoes for many years. Fashion is not a big issue, because I chose items with a long shelf-life, so to speak. I do not see a reason to pay full price, which is probably inflated. Retailers and marketers (very few, if any, manufacture anything these days, so the factory has already made its money) have such large mark-ups, that they make money on reduced prices.
Whereas shops (is there such a thing?) are empty in North Korea, western shoppers are faced with too much choice. From the hundreds—perhaps thousands—of jackets on offer, I found only one to meet my taste. Yes, I am difficult to please and have rather conservative tastes, but one would expect a better ratio of likes to dislikes. In the end, I selected something from an upscale brand with no branding beyond the label. I do not like to announce my purchases, do not need a brand to define my personality, and am not willing to lend my stature to boost a brand for which I have paid money.
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.