Neil Boorman

This article is from 2007.

How a lifestyle journalist went back to basics and rejected brands

To the casual observer, burning £20,000 worth of expensive designer gear to cinders in a central London park might not seem like the wisest of actions. For lifestyle journalist Neil Boorman, this ritualistic, highly public destruction of his worldly possessions was a pivotal moment, one that formed the jump-off for his first book, Bonfire of the Brands. ‘I realised that not just my professional life, but my personal life as well was completely dominated by brands,’ Boorman explains. ‘I think I had some kind of weird disorder, which I call “obsession branding disorder”. I had to rip it up and start again.’

Born again brand-free from the flames, he set about shopping only in farmers markets, thrift shops, army surplus stores and making anything he couldn’t buy. His blog has now been expanded into a fascinating and funny diary of his attempts to come to terms with his obsession, and understand the factors that caused it. ‘I was completely bewildered for weeks,’ he says of the brandless life. ‘I’ve lost a whole bunch of stuff, but suddenly it doesn’t matter. I was using these status symbols to increase my self-esteem.’ It’s this so-called ‘emotional branding’ process that he hopes the book will elucidate. ‘I want to get across just how dangerous advertising can be. (Malcolm Jack)
22 Aug, 4pm, £7 (£5).

Neil Boorman and Tobias Jones

Two writers talk about the trappings of consumerist modern life. Boorman, a lifestyle journalist, burned all of his branded goods and started from scratch. Jones spent a year touring communes with his wife and daughter, seeking a balance between the individual and community. 'Part of the Edinburgh International Book…

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