For its Fall/Winter 2010 collection, Supreme released a line of hoodies which are undoubtedly inspired by the iconic DKNY mural that once graced the corner of Houston and Broadway. The famed mural, which was painted in 1992, proudly displayed the New York City skyline along with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground. While many considered the mural a glorified billboard, after the September 11th attacks it gained greater significance because it featured the World Trade Center towers in the distance. In June 2009, the mural was painted over with a gross ad for Hollister, signifying Soho’s transformation into a suburban shopping mall.
I’ve noticed stickers baring “SUPNY” all over Soho and originally thought the stickers were the calling card of a local street artist. I’ve seen artists such as Dickchicken utilize corporate branding in their work. I’m sure any native/long-time New Yorker is automatically reminded of DKNY when they see the SUPNY stickers. Supreme drew inspiration from that iconic mural that once captured New York before 9/11, gentrification and commercialization dulled the city’s edge. Although Supreme replaced the DKNY letters, it still shares the stage with the fashion label, which is perhaps what the retailer intended. After all, the DKNY mural went beyond branding–it became a cultural icon.
PSFK recently wrote about Freshjive’s initiative to remove its logo and brand name from its clothing and inner labels. The blog refers to Freshjive’s latest design approach, which consists of plain black labels that only detail the garment’s size encased in a white frame, as an anti-branding campaign. This is a misreading of the streetwear company’s strategy, which is to unbrand itself in order to create a new identity or establish a different kind of relevance within the fashion industry. Freshjive’s owner and designer, Rick Klotz, states, “Throughout the years I’ve become uncomfortable with this business of branding and brand identity. I’m not the type of person that buys something for the brand name.” He goes on to describe the presence of logos on clothing as an anathema to individualism.
Consumers are steadily becoming more critical of branding and Klotz is cleverly flattering his fanbase for their resistance to advertising. Freshjive is great example of product displacement emerging as an effective marketing strategy in the real world (See my post on Starbucks). Klotz essentially unbranded Freshjive to create a new, poignant identity that appeals to its discerning clientele. By unbranding Freshjive, Klotz has created an opportunity to distance his brand from rival companies and re-encode what his label stands for. He admits the minimalist garment labels are a form of branding and in a comment on PSFK writes, “I am aware it’s not a “pure” non branding move. But I still believe the process of taking the logo/name off the labels (while still retaining the label) is a step in a good direction, and in the least creates awareness and further critique.”
On that note, one element that is present in many instances of fictionalized product displacements on television is the use of parody. It seems Klotz intends on parodying iconic logos and warns branders, “Careful when building an influential logo, as I just might use that influence through some further graphic manipulation, and throw it back out into the market like a brick bashing through a window.” Klotz’s removal of Freshjive logos coupled with his intention to mock other brands for the sake of raising awareness to branding, situates his fans as both ad busters and consumers. This rather unique combination that capitalizes on media literacy and skepticism.
Ray-Ban recently launched a campaign for their new line of Wayfarer sunglasses. The Project Colorize ads and products were designed by five New York artists (Tara McPherson, Scott Alger, Queen Andrea, Ron English, and Toofly) and have been featured in Marie Claire. The billboards, which will run in New York, are expected to 16 million impressions each month (via: Adweek). To kick off the promotion, Ray-Ban sponsored a stunt near Herald Square in which paid actors donned their Wayfarers to stare at one of the billboards (via: Style Wise). Click here to see a couple of pictures from the event.
Wayfarers are back in a big way. I just purchased a pair over the weekend. Although, I love the Project Colorize styles and was really looking forward to getting the ones designed by Tara McPherson, I opted to get a more subtle color. Last year, Ray-Ban introduced its Never Hide campaign, which emphasized consumer involvementthrough its online community and gave a lucky few the opportunity to feel like super-models. If you attended the Project Colorize marketing stunt, please send me pics or tell me your thoughts. It would be much appreciated!
AHHH! My jaw just dropped and my heart skipped a beat. After years and years of anticipation and campaigning from fans, Nike will release the sneakers Marty McFly wore in Back to the Fututre: Part II. However, the sneakers look NOTHING like the pair seen in the classic film. There has undoubtedly been a lot of hype about the shoes, but Nike really dropped the ball by making them, as PSFK‘s Dan Gould states, “…just a limited edition Hyperdunk that’s inspired by the movie version” (via: “Nike To Finally Release Back To The Future Sneaker“). I feel absolutely cheated.
I wasn’t expecting the McFlys to tie themselves, after all, it’s 2008 and flying cars are nowhere in sight. I was however, hoping that Nike would keep the authenticity of the original design. This is really a “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” moment. My Puma El Roos look more like the McFlys than that slab of leather Nike is set to drop.
In recent months, HBO has been airing the Back to the Future films, which I’m sure not only increased demand for the sneakers, but also introduced them to an entire generation collectors. I’m sure many people will be clamoring to get these, but I will not be one of them. No official release date has been set, but they are expected to hit shelves sometime this Summer (via: slashfilm.com).
Reebok couldn’t release a decent pair of sneakers if the instructions were written on the heel. The company’s latest attempt at whetting the palates of sneaker collectors is an ill-conceived collaboration with Kool-Aid. Their line of Kool-Aid scented sneakers, which are available in grape, cherry, and strawberry, was released earlier this month. For the burgeoning fashion victims fashionistas that enjoy coordinating their outfits, matching hoodies, hats and t-shirts are available and will most likely be hitting the clearance rack the second they’re unloded off the truck.
If these sneakers were geared towards children, I’d forgive the bright colors and figure Reebok is capitalizing on their love of sugary, artificially flavored drinks. However, the Kool-Aid kicks are part of the company’s 2008 “Your Move” campaign, which tries way too hard to portray Reebok as a brand that embraces individuality. Granted, I’m not all that familiar with Reebok or its products, but I have seen a couple of its recent spots, and I must say, the ads are definitely lacking authenticity.
Reebok is obviously trying create a space for itself among sneaker heads, but it fails to realize sneaker-collecting culture was created by the consumers. Nike, Adidas and Puma know this and are able to make campaigns that come across as collaborative, not phony. Another reason why Reebok will never be fully embraced by collectors is its lack of a solid brand identity and history. Several years ago it rebranded itself as RBK, a move that reminds me of KFC’s disturbing (and somewhat true) urban legend. It’s really hard to establish a long-term relationship with a company that undergoes identity crises and encourages shoe-sniffing.