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There you were thinking that seeing celebrities with ten-piece sets of Louis Vuitton luggage, or people with more money than style attired in outfits emblazoned with Versace medusa heads, was merely an assault on one's fashion sensibilities. But it turns out that fashion emblems may be worming their way into our consciousness and influencing our behavior without us even knowing about it. Rob Walker reports on a study in which subjects were more likely to choose a certain brand of bottled water after being shown photos of people drinking it, even though they weren't aware of having noticed the brand.

The study also indicated that overexposure to a brand can "wear out" a positive effect, but that's apparently not a concern for Ralph Lauren: His company has continued to introduce more versions of its horse logo, like the latest multiple-horse "Polo Match," presumbably for men who want to make it really, really clear that they like to spend $100 on a shirt in order to look the same as everyone else.

The Brand-ness of Strangers [NYT]