i'm with the brand

Chanel to design luxury surfboards, because that is a thing that makes sense
March 5, 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,

Oui! I am le maybe riding ze surfboard backwards on le concrete! Bonjour! Crusty bread!

Some genius at Chanel apparently decided the next logical step after bestowing the world with a classic suit, an iconic bag, and a timeless fragrance was to make luxury surfboards. Yeah. Luxury surfboards. The surfboards are rolling out in Brazil first and later at Chanel shops worldwide, and will presumably reach a public that has been clamoring–quite understandably–for coutoure watersports equipment.

The boards have the same simple, understated glamor of the Chanel aesthetic, but should a brand predicated on class, grace, and elegance really be moving into sporting gear? And it’s not even just as a one-off co-branding measure! They’re beautiful, but…seriously?



Lacoste logo lace: just a shirt or Campana consumerist commentary?
March 3, 2010, 5:00 pm
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lacoste lace

Brazilian designer duo Fernando and Humberto Campana have been commissioned to design a limited edition collection of Lacoste shirts for men and women. The brothers designed four shirts in all, but the most outrageous and inventive of all are the pieces entitled Alligator Lace, each in a limited edition of 12, which are composed entirely of the French clothier’s iconic embroidered logo. It’s a fascinating display of the mundane and workaday transformed into something exquisitely delicate, an oil-and-water contradiction between brashness and subtlety.

These are clearly statement-making art objects, and although I doubt it was the designers’ intent, they make an interesting commentary on branded objects and our relationships with them. We are human billboards when we don logo-bearing clothing, and both brand and wearer theoretically gain from this display: one exposure, the other cachet. The piece forces us to confront this issue, and challenges our willingness to glibly and eagerly cloak ourselves in a brand’s identity, as if to ask: That’s what we’re really buying ultimately, isn’t it? Why not be honest about it? Where is the virtue in feigned transcendence of the system? And while some branded items are more egregious than others in their logo-smattering, what is Alligator Lace, if not this readily-accepted notion taken to an ironic, satirical extreme? At what point does it become crass, or was it all along? Interesting questions, all.

designboom offers the following information on the shirts’ provenance:

“the shirts have been hand-made by the coopa-roca women’s co-operative in brazil, whose purpose is to provide positive working environments for its members, female residents of rocinha, brazil. improving the quality of life of the craftswomen and their families, the small production force is aimed at developing decorative craftwork productions through the revival of traditional brazilian craft techniques such as drawstring appliqué, crochet, knot work and patchwork.”

It’s intriguing that something so corporate would be crafted using the talents and traditional techniques of local artisans, bridging a cultural and generational gap in such a way as to highlight both the parallelism and disparity between the “traditional” and the modern practice of design and manufacture.

View the rest of the Campanas’ Lacoste collection at designboom.


Band of Outsiders is killing it with this polaroid lookbook
February 17, 2010, 12:12 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , ,

LA-based clothier Band of Outsiders made its first appearance on this blog when the New York Times offered it up as the “sartorial soul mate” of mild-mannered indiekins Grizzly Bear. (I’m not sure I completely agree–the natty brand seems a bit too just-so for the breezy boys of GB…but I think we can tell that someone’s editor saw the Two Weeks video!) But I had been seeing these clothes around and they’re brilliant. Turns out, so is their branding. (Media arts–these guys get it.)

Founder Scott Sternberg  told Time magazine, “What Ralph Lauren does is brilliant. But it’s a fantasy of being a Wasp or rich. I address these cliches. It’s postmodern.” And he’s right: no oversized flags in country meadows here–just the sun and the surf and the concrete–and Sternberg’s self-aware, subverted classics.

For a youthful, slim-cut, tongue-in-cheek iteration of retro-chic, Band of Outsiders definitely knows what it is and what it’s doing. Their co-branded collaborations (Sperry Top-Sider, among them) and use of celebrity (Jason Schwartzman is wearing the hell out of that suit, and why not? He’s the BoO sensibility personified) are spot-on, and above all I love that their lookbook is a set of hazy sunbleached polaroids of the clothes out in the world. (Often it’s less the clothes themselves and more the out-in-the-world storytelling, the captured moments of humor and sunny grit and self-deprecation–a perfect choice then, polaroids, to capture the day-in-the-life spirit of the thoughtful adventurer.) Content and form work as one to bring the brand to life–and in a refreshing turn for an upscale fashion brand, to make it personal.

Everywhere a brand lives in the world is an opportunity to showcase what it’s about, and Band of Outsiders executes against this premise well. It’s omnipresent in their work: it’s a vibe, an aesthetic–class without fuss. A dapper, modern way of life for the young man about town.

(Also, for a little eCommerce nerdery, check out their beta store here. Kind of crazy, right? But very cool. Again, sort of re-contextualizing the familiar.)

Paste magazine asks: Is Indie Dead?

Illustration by Samuel Bosma (via Paste)

A must-read for anyone who cares about culture: Paste’s Rachael Maddux asks the question: Is Indie Dead? in the cover story for the magazine’s February issue.

In an incisive and far-ranging analysis Maddux grabs for fistfuls of smoke trying to pin a definition on the word, but nevertheless expertly and wittily charts its history, influence, rise, and fall—explaining, among other things, the advertising-music-culture cross-ramifications of a pervasive sensibility built around precisely its non-pervasiveness.

Read the essay to find out just how the democratization of technology, an Internet that eats its young, morphing music industry models, and cultural co-option (co-option?) of scene have worked together to create (and in some ways, kill) one of the most unstoppable and influential forces in pop culture today: the paradoxically elusive and ubiquitous “indie.”

Wrangler and Levi’s: Jeans campaigns share conceptual genes
January 27, 2010, 10:02 pm
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Wrangler We Are Animals

AdFreak recently highlighted Fred & Farid’s Cannes Grand Prix-winning “We are animals” campaign for Wrangler’s European rebranding, and it reminded me strongly of the ads we’ve seen all year for Levi’s—Wieden & Kennedy’s expertly-hewn “Go forth” campaign. (Advertising Age pithily notes the latter is “no good because it’s too good by half.” I’m inclined to agree.)

It’s interesting to me that two such similar brands would take such a similar route at around the same time—and that both would manage to do it so well. In Levi’s spots, stern, crackling directives and psycho-scrawls send dust-bowl darlings bounding across the vast pioneer-promised land; in Wrangler’s, red-dusted hellions  flail and contort like the primal spirits they are.

What we see in both campaigns is the cheesy discount cowboy hokum of yore replaced by something earthy, optimistic, and deliciously reckless. Each has an element of Americana, Whitman romantic while Kerouac ominous. In a world where jeans have turned hyper-tailored, sleek, and designer-fussy, both Levi’s and Wrangler replace pretension with authenticity and present an alternative that’s unhokily rugged, young, and raw. Each campaign makes it about some underlying truth about human nature, so it’s a question of lifestyle and an assertion of outlook rather than a drab and meaningless global uniform. Each has the unironic sincerity of a stripped down close-up portrait, and each is aspirational—just maybe in a way we’re not used to seeing. Whether they’ll make an impact on sales is another issue altogether, but in these aesthetic-and-conceptual-DNA-sharing campaigns, both brands offer us something fresh and powerful in a world of winking blasé preciousness.

Wrangler We Are Animals

Levi's Go Forth

Vampire Weekend, Beirut, MGMT, others appear in Vogue indie glamtacular
December 17, 2009, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , ,

Vampire Weekend & MGMT in Vogue

Music! Fashion! Music and fashion! Go together like peanut butter and more peanut butter. Stereogum reports that Vogue is styling your favorites (Vampire Weekend, Beirut, MGMT, Adam Green, Chester French, Golden Silvers, Mika, and The Horrors) for their January issue…sort of. The bands are basically a living mood board whose audio-visual aesthetic inspires and informs the designer duds worn by the model, Sasha Pivovarova—all this in an effort by Vogue to highlight the rebranding of many major European labels now under the creative auspices of cutting-edge and emerging designers dubbed “young lions.”

Stereogum brought us another cool bit of music-as-design-palette-and-vice-versa a while back in their coverage of the New York Times’s profile of some Brooklyn’s bumper crop of indie hometown heroes and their distinctive sartorial stylings (read: how to dress like Deerhunter for less more.)

NY Times Profile