08/
04/
14

Has Luxury lost its Lustre?

In a recent article in The New York Times, Cathy Horyn notes that the prices for luxury goods are likely to increase, which may be good news for more-affordable brands who want a piece of that action. She also points out that “a number of astute fashion chief executives, notably Patrizio Bertelli of Prada, have sounded a glummer note, saying that what the industry really needs is more desirable products.” We couldn’t agree more.

While some brands are envisioning more culturally and socially relevant products by collaborating with designers and artists, most brands still rely on traditional product development and marketing channels. Yet the objective for both is the same: to wrap new products and events in a ‘story’ that can garner genuine interest and that oh so elusive ‘desire’.

As we’ve seen, the keenest interest gets generated when brands explore new paths. And as we’ve seen again and again, collaborations with contemporary artists can provide the vision, creativity, and meaning that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.

For example, could Dom Pérignon have generated the level of talk value they got with Jeff Koons’ Balloon Venus without Jeff Koons? Or perhaps the better question is, how many millions of dollars would Dom Pérignon have had to spend in media and advertising to achieve the same result? Although a collaboration with an artist like Koons would not have been cheap, a media plan able to reach across continents and create the clamor and respect this collaboration did would undoubtedly have set budgetary records.

To ask the question in reverse: could a brand in our own backyard have achieved the same level of buzz, notoriety and desire with a simple art fusion collaboration? Could Inniskillin, a Canadian award-winning Original Estate Winery known for its pioneering icewine production trigger the same level of awe and interest by joining forces with a high caliber artist? Perhaps a series of collector’s edition bottles to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year? Or could the Hudson’s Bay’s starkly modern designer dress salon, The Room, renovated for approximately $4.4 million by the designers Yabu Pushelberg, push further and transform parts of its ‘room’ into art space—drawing the art-loving, disposable-income-dropping creative class they so covet?

While the objective of art fusion is to create more desirable products, spaces, and events that can generate talk value and social media buzz, the end result can still be quite unpredictable. This, of course, can be mitigated by taking several critical strategic steps before making the jump.

Stand by for our next post on what brands should ask themselves before considering an art fusion collaboration, plus a guide on how to tell a more compelling story by applying a ‘one-of-many’ or ‘many-of-one’ approach.

PRADA SS2014, MILAN
PRADA RUNWAY SS2014, MILAN
PRADA SS2014, MILAN
PRADA RUNWAY SS2014, MILAN
DOM PÉRIGNON BALLOON VENUS X JEFF KOONS
DOM PÉRIGNON BALLOON VENUS X JEFF KOONS
DOM PÉRIGNON BALLOON VENUS X JEFF KOONS
DOM PÉRIGNON BALLOON VENUS X JEFF KOONS
Inniskillin Icewine
Inniskillin Icewine
The Room, Hudson’s Bay Company
The Room, Hudson’s Bay Company, Toronto

07/
01/
14

Would you rather your Brand be ‘New!’ or ‘Relevant!’?

For Converse, art fusion hasn’t just been a way of staying fashionable, or ahead of their competition. It has been a way to stay culturally relevant. How many other shoe Brands can you name that have survived for over a century? And how many other Brands can boast that they are worn by celebrities, not because they’re paid to, but because the stars want amplify their own authenticity? Kudos, Converse. Through collaboration, you have achieved the Marketing Holy Grail; you’ve stayed relevant and new, without ever changing the DNA of your Brand.

Converse owes its remarkable transformation from its roots as a basketball shoemaker in the 1900’s to its position today as an iconic, ever-hip casual footwear Brand, to shrewd brand-stewardship and numerous successful art fusion collaborations over the years. Among the most recent are “Converse ♥ Marimekko” and “Comme des Garçon’s PLAY Converse”, which like their collaborative predecessors Nigel Cabourn, Stussy, U2 and Metallica, have set the pace as talk-value instigators.

Creating art fusion with culturally and politically pertinent artists, fashion designers and musicians has been key for Converse. Not only has it kept their shoes on their consumers’ feet, but it has reinforced their relevance to the counter-culture, social and political swings of the last century – helping them stay the ‘rebel’ Brand, and us the ‘cool’ customers.

While Converse has been placing their bets on rebellious artistic collaborations, Junya Watanabe of Comme des Garçons has been taking a different approach. He has been handpicking and collaborating only with genuine, traditional and hard-working craftspeople who stand for the utmost in quality and integrity – like the Danish knitting company S.N.S. HERNING known for their traditionally knitted sailor’s sweaters, or the almost two-century old British shoe company Tricker’s. His collaborative additions, at times have only been a very subtle, yet strategically ingenious twist that only Junya Watanabe could think of. And the result? Crowds of appreciative followers, bloggers and collectors.

The bottom line? Manufacturers and marketers alike often default to developing the ‘new’ and perhaps overlook ways to invest in, and keep their existing products or services ‘relevant’ and desirable. However, as in alchemy, the real treasure is in finding the right combination of ingredients and knowing how to make the familiar unfamiliar again.

The moral of the story? Stay curious. Gain an appreciation for the fusion of the traditional with the contemporary (visually and conceptually), the organic with the graphic, the constructed with the deconstructed. They are just a few ways to keep products and services relevant, stimulating and truly interesting, with no need to sell.

Stay tuned for our next post on creating art fusion – by integration or deconstruction?

CONVERSE X MARTIN MARGIELA
CONVERSE X MARTIN MARGIELA
NIGEL CABOURN x CONVERSE
NIGEL CABOURN x CONVERSE
TERENCE KOH x CONVERSE
CONVERSE ♥ MARIMEKKO
CONVERSE FOR PRODUCT (RED)
CONVERSE FOR PRODUCT (RED)
JUNYA WATANABE x TRICKER’S
S.N.S. HERNING
JUNYA WATANABE x TRICKER’S
S.N.S. FACTORY, THE LAST OIL
S.N.S. HERNING QUALITY SIGNATURE
S.N.S. HERNING QUALITY SIGNATURE