Don't get me wrong, I too often fall into the trap of wanting brand names. I am a product of this society as much as anyone else. I too, have had it ingrained in me that the more popular the brand name on my shirt, the better I am as a person. Of course, I do not believe this on a logical level but there is still that little man in sitting on my shoulder who tries to tell me that I will finally be "cool" if I just loose that extra fifty pounds (even he knows better than to tell me that fifty pounds is a bit more than "extra") and wear that shirt with the brand name that I will finally be accepted by the "cool crowd".
But when I get my act together, which is becoming more and more often thankfully, I am able to swat the little man off of my shoulder and realize that it is about quality, not brand name. Ironically enough though, on quite a few of the things, I have found that "quality" and "brand name" actually are synonymous. But there still are plenty of times that "brand name" still equals "made in China and will last one week before it craps out".
One way I have found to weed out the crap is to buy most everything used. This serves more than one purpose. Not only does it save me a lot of money, it is also better for our planet...it is the ultimate recycling. And finally, usually if it has survived another family's use and has been donated to a thrift store and is still in decent shape, it is probably a pretty decent product! This helps me work towards my goal of not contributing to consumerism.
I have found that for the things I feel I must have, that if I will wait long enough, the gods of thrift will provide them for me via the local Goodwill Store! If the gods of Goodwill do not provide them then the gods of fortune usually will. For these things, the things that are unlikely to show up at the Goodwill more than once in a blue moon (and it is inevitable that I will miss that blue moon and someone else would buy it anyway), I usually run across a free offer, a gift card, surprise birthday money, etc. If you put it out there, the Universe will usually provide.
For those who don't feel that they have the time to bother sorting through the "junk" at thrift stores, I am going to start a list of my "finds". I will list the item I found, the price I paid and the original retail price (found via an Internet search). I will consider it an honor if I can convert at least one person into a thrift store queen. I think some of you will be duly surprised at what turns up!