How Dyson Became the Apple of Cleaning Appliances

Estimated read time 2 min read

New status symbols — Le Creusets, KitchenAids, even full-body M.R.I. scans — are continually anointed in headlines. But what distinguishes the Dyson as the latest must-have household accessory is not so much what it is as how it is kept. Whereas vacuum cleaners of the past (and their tangled, serpentine cords) were relegated to the closet, out of sight until the next time they were pulled out, cordless sticks have to be charged and near an outlet. In other words, the Dyson is not something to hide — it’s a silver trophy on display.

Andrew Nguyen, 26, a graduate student in Philadelphia, described his Dyson as “almost weirdly sexy.” Liz Weech, 25, a software engineer in Brooklyn, said she loved her former roommate’s device so much that she bought her own and convinced her boyfriend to purchase one, too. Daniel Taroy, 31, a social media director, owns two Dysons, which he and his boyfriend both “actively use” in their home in New York City.

But customers and social media influencers say other brands — Shark ($200 to $500), Miele ($600 to $1,100), Tineco ($200 to $800), Bissell ($35 to $400) — are sometimes cheaper and can function just the same, if not better.

Frederick Hissenkaemper, 27, prefers his Miele over the Dyson he inherited from a housemate. “Moving the Dyson around is no fun,” said Mr. Hissenkaemper, a marketing manager in Los Angeles. “It’s rather stocky, and the suction isn’t even strong enough to get all the dust.”

Whether Dyson is better than its competitors is beside the point, said John McCarthy, 24, an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles who wrote a college admissions essay about the Dyson. “It’s like the iPhone versus Android debate,” he said. “Have you ever met one of those people that have an Android and won’t shut up about how bad iPhones are?”

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