Gucci Addiction: The Diaries of a Straight Male Shopaholic

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: April 13, 2013

In an article for GQ Magazine, Buzz Bissinger, the best-selling author of “Friday Night Lights”, chronicles, apparently for the first time ever (he seems to surprise even himself), some of his more extravagant shopping habits.

Bissinger guesses that from 2010 through 2012 he probably spent a quarter of a million dollars on shopping alone. However,that is actually far below the real amount, which he admits to having discovered only because of this article. In the past three years, Bissinger has actually spent $587,412.97 on clothing. He told GQ he owns eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves.

Incase the sheer quantities aren’t enough to convince everyone he has a problem, Bissinger then breaks out the price tags. He writes, “The most expensive leather jacket I own, a Gucci ostrich skin, cost $13,900. The most expensive evening jacket I own, also from Gucci, black napa leather with gold threading, cost $9,800. The most expensive leather pants, $5,600. The most expensive jeans, $2,500. The most expensive pair of boots, $2,600. The most expensive pair of gloves, $1,015.” On a four-day trip to Milan to shop for Gucci items not yet in stores, Bissinger approximates that he spent $51,000, “equivalent to roughly a full year’s tuition at my son’s college...But it is my money, and I have paid his tuition for four years...None of which is really the point, anyway: I can’t resist for the very reason I can’t resist.”

In the article, Bissinger, rather than feeling embarrassed by the precise details of his insane shopping sprees, seems to revel in it. It’s almost as though this public article about his private habit is just an extension of the addiction. This is the addict cheating death, or, in his case, bankruptcy, since Bissinger is actually rich enough to support his oniomania. As Jezebel pointed out, “part of [Bissinger’s] addiction had to do with the attention, the validation.” He talks about how after he discovered high-end designers, he finally started receiving compliments on his appearance from “women and gays and African-Americans who appreciate go-for-it-style.” So, again, this article just seems like a desperate attempt by Bissinger to find a way to create that next big rush to enhance the thrill of his addiction. In the article, he is incredibly frank about his sexual habits, stating that he’s dabbled in BDSM and is attracted to leather. In which case, Isn’t this lengthy essay full of deeply personal details that range from his gratuitous shopping habits to his sexual predilections just a form of shaming on a massive scale, and thus, in his mind, equated to the thrill of sexual/material gratification?

Strangely, through all of these grotesque details, I can’t help thinking that Bissinger can be seen as the next logical evolutionary product of the modern American value system. Not only has he lived the American Dream, making his millions from his own writing talent, but now he is the perfect blind consumer (specifically when faced with Gucci). As a result of being trained to endlessly want and buy and never enjoy, however, now no amount of possessions will ever be able to fill his constant need. So, in a final bid to highten his addiction and his high, Bissinger makes a public bid on GQ. For what purpose you may ask, would someone who is clearly so troubled drag themselves onto center stage? The essay is not remorseful, shamed, or even particularly introspective. It seems intentional and apathetic; well-written, but calculated and intended to go viral. I suspect that Bissinger understood perfectly what he was doing when he wrote that article and knew the viral potential of his outrageous claims better than anyone. I can almost guarantee as all those thousands of new posts about him roll in, with every new Google Alert notification, his urge to buy those Gucci leather pants wanes ever so slightly.

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