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Are Apple’s iPhone 6 and Watch items of Fashion?

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Apple did not ninja-launch their seasonal batch of new products for sure. A few hours before the Keynote introducing yet another iPhone and a Watch seemingly tailored to tackle Samsung’s leading innovations, there was a wind of disbelief in the Fashion Press where editors, influencers and followers alike felt they would feel the full blow of Apple Marketing Superpower.

Geek is now infamously chic, but why such a sudden direct poke (copyright?) at the trendiest industry?

BoF did not take this lightly either. The respectable source about The Industry took the opportunity to present their new hub for Fashion-dash-Tech:

 


Elsewhere, behemoths like Refinery29 are dropping their unusual Top Story about the iPhone 6 and the Watch, while invitations were dropped to regional top editors (Vogue China, Italia…) to have them join San Francisco’s event venue…

Capitalizing on the obvious trend making tech objects the new Talismans of our contemporary citizens, the brand seems to make a wise business move involving fashion partners more closely, but we’re still wondering: are these new products really worth the spotlight?

Here is Suzy Menkes’ review (seriously?)

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Paris Fashion Week Street Style – H&M Life: catching value chain, not people

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It’s always a tough job to try to capture the style of a city.

City dwellers swinging on the streets.

Commuters defeating the infernal time machine.

Fast movers challenging peace-keepers after 8am.

And suddenly, when offices grab their inhabitants, the city reveals a brand new face.

It can be this guy sitting on a terrace; breathing the calm wind of summer. Or this girl, finishing her late-night work and going to sleep. Or again this civil servant or banker, off for the day.

There are daily artists and on-going plasticine.

H&M shot some people of Paris; I’m not totally convinced: it could have been shot in NYC, London or Milan in any high-street.

That’s probably the only problem with super-retailer like H&M: grabbing so much inspirations to recycle them on our t-shirts that at the end, we don’t know anymore where we belong.

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How to Learn French with Camille Rowe: the reason why fashion should still love France

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Camille Rowe Pourcheresse was our hit-IT-heat-HIP girl in 2012 when our “friends” from fashion magazines were describing her body as “untypical” …Fashion history proved we were right as we now see everywhere a celebration of the diversity of women bodies. Anorexic shooting are now the realy “untypical”.

France as a brand is trying hard to redefine itself. We don’t have the American Dream, our myths and stories are moral, political. Not made for business per se.

Our know-how, our French Touch might be recognized worldwide, but who can really support this vision today? Most of the time, France is associated to a sort of Lost Paradise: Coco Chanel, Marie-Antoinette, Brigitte Bardot, even Carine Roitfeld…aren’t they from the past? Can they really root France in a contemporaneity?

That’s probably what Camille Rowe achieved in her French lesson: playing with clichés about the Frenchie (yes, in London, most of the guys think that our ladies are bipolar!), and suggesting a new interpretation…

A reconciliation of a sweet arrogance with an ultra-feminine power. A woman one might only desire, therefore respect.

As we like to be right, we believe far more in the Made in French instead of focusing on Made in France. France is a spirit before being a body. Camille Rowe proves once again that our French singularity is in this mix between a very physical attractiveness which empowers a captivating personality.

We love this sparkling Parisian woman: she’s evasive and so free. The best way to communicate about a French brand these days is not to tag it or qualify through the fact the brand is actually French. We need to leave the brand express its creativity. The most intriguing, disturbing, bizarre designers are the real French. A French brand should try to love complicated attitudes; French brands should maybe dive in absurdity. French brands should trouble its customers. That’s probably the only difference now of what French brands can bring on the table against every pop brand machine with a too clever, too simple speech. A French brand should be desired, should be tough to get.

Oh and Made in French don’t care about borders and territories: Camille is an American icon and / or French. Do we care?

Vive la République

 

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Pharrell on Elle UK. Why the controversy?

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Do you think Pharrell should not have worn a Native American head-dress on cover of Elle UK? We don’t.

Although this sparked understandable and respectable outrage from communities and commentators alike, resulting in a sincere apology by the cultural icon, we believe this new controversy shows society has figured fashion out all wrong.

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As a matter of fact, the base of controversy seems far-fetched to us, or at least most of commentators express it with little concision: most of the tweets bear judgments such as “it’s not ok”, ‘what’s wrong with you” and “this is scandalous”, only a few mention the reasons of anger:

“Urgh. Why does the fashion industry insist on turning sacred cultural items into fashion props? #NOTHappy @ELLEUK” – says @OnceAPARNATime.

Cultural appropriation seems to be the problem, as highlighted Refinery29. But the real question is where is the line to draw for offensiveness?

We believe blackfaceing a model is a mistake, but criticizing a graphic and photographic fashion job made with respect (at least benefit of that doubt can be given to the team in charge, right?) seems way over-crying. Why did fashion teams like this one chose this item? Because it bears positive symbols, it also has impeccable visual style and it may remind us that some cultures should not be lost in contemporary moments.

This cover is beautiful. It has character. It does not depict a community in any negative way. Let’s stop underestimating the fashion industry’s capacity to curate cultures. Fashion is not a superficial discipline, whatever twitter might say.

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The limits of Vogue and why Lily Allen question was right

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So yeah, fashion circus had another reason to get a grip this week. Alexandra Shulman was interviewed on BBC Radio 2, by guest presenter and singer Lily Allen.

And of course came the question about the size – of models that Vogue (and fashion magazines in general) cast on covers.

I was shocked by Alexandra Shulman’s answers; not because of the sort of business cynical attitude but because of the lack of understanding of her own business.

“People always say ‘why do you have thin models? That’s not what real people look like’ But nobody really wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue (…) I think Vogue is a magazine that’s about fantasy to some extent and dreams, and an escape from real life. People don’t want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when they look in the mirror. They can do that for free.”

It’s a traditional answer from magazines that don’t want to change. But the argument is very strange: “thin” models would then generate more fantasy than other sorts of bodies? How about the dozens of actresses that are picked on Vogue’s covers? Are they all members of the thin-club. It’s also strange for a Vogue ambassador to put the responsibility on the readers: if Vogue was really THE trendsetter, THE institution, it should be able to generate change, impose new faces…and not lag…Maybe Vogue could have a look again to All Walks beyond the Catwalk that a lot of its own “Bible” editors supported?

It’s seriously misunderstanding the new usages of Vogue’s readership (average age: 33…). Let’s talk about Instagram. Instagram is all about reality and the fantasy of this reality: filters are new creative enablers. Starring people in their whole diversities, just made of more with these effects. Rising stars with very diverse bodies and styles generate more engagement than the full circulation of Vogue per month. Just to say.

I am a bit disappointed because Vogues does not surprize me anymore. Sparks of creativity are now very rare; we still find them when external contributors or new editors are scouted and are allowed to write few lines.

 

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GAP, Lived In: but where do you guys live?

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Dear GAP,

I used to be a very loyal customer when I was young. I’m French, and GAP was this sort of badass but smart brand coming from a foreign and mystic place; denims were high quality and if you were wandering around skateparks, guys were only wearing shrunk GAP or Levi’s denims. There was a sense of community, and it was not old fashioned at all to wear your outfits. Girls wearing your products were not basic. They were this bunch of aspiring people, who made our teenage years less Angst and more daring.

You’re struggling, as so many brands on the high streets, because you’re supposedly losing your customers. According to you and your fellows, it’s because of ASOS or Zara that you’re losing money.

I think you’re wrong, dear GAP. I think you’re just totally missing the point between what we guys expect and the way you communicate it.

So, I’ve seen your billboard ads everywhere from Shoreditch to Kensington. With your new motto: “Lived In”.

 

Basically, you’ve picked, like so many other brands emerging artists (is Birdy really emerging? I’m not sure…). And you’ve created a sort of content strategy in…social media, trying to make your words reverberate in our hearts.

But it does not work, because it’s not you. It’s not you and the guys you’re trying to talk to don’t exist. On Facebook, you posted that:

“Our Spring ads feature artists who live in their truth. Meet RJ Mitte, actor. Lives in his character. #LivedIn “

And one of your cheeky fans answers:  If he lives in his character why is he not eating breakfast?

Your Creative chief executive Richard Teideman declared:

“In a market where it’s progressively harder to gain visibility, what I love about this campaign is not so much the images, but rather what they’ve done with them (..) The fabric print deployment is such a fresh idea – and it plays right to the heart of what Gap is all about – product-centric, but also ingrained into our lives.”

I don’t want to offend anyone but seriously: in which world do you really live? Sometimes, I wonder if you don’t create ads or comms that are made to please a Vogue intern and not your consumers.

I’m fed up with brands which don’t dare any more. Yes, you should take pictures of people wearing your outfits in the kitchen. Yes, there are tons of places where we were your denims and that you never explore. Yes, creativity is not a title but a living organism.

GAP, we seriously like you; but embrace what we now expect: a bit of meaning, a bit of audacity, a bit of edge. We’re not your morons, we’re your wives…and not yet your widows.

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Few stereotypes against male fashion bloggers

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We’re not going to complain about our social condition as fashion bloggers at all. Nonetheless, after few years blogging about fashion, society and “lifestyle” as a whole, we have to face pretty regularly some clichés against us. As if a blog could now define one’s personality and identity.

Nothing too serious at the end, if we consider that it’s all part of the same circus. But still, here’s a short list of questions that we’re often asked.

Are you gay?

Yes, in 2014, having fun writing about fashion, trends, still suppose that you’re gay.

Let’s be honest: the way we write has nothing to do with our sexual preferences. Darwin would agree.

Do you know Garance Doré?

Well, star system effect also reaches fashion sphere; we’re always famous for someone as we say.

Are you really a fashion blogger?

Some of us don’t have to wear a clown outfit during fashion weeks. So sometimes, when you’re just wearing your regular outfits, people don’t understand why you’d be interested in fashion.

Bizarre.

Did you really study political science and management?

So, fashion writing is sometimes associated to shopping-list writing. I don’t blame the buddies who ask me this question when you look at some blogs or magazines (don’t ask me names) that are just e-commerce platforms. So yes, you can try to match politics and style.

Do you have a real job?

Haha. Yes, writing is associated to a life of leisure. They are the same people who can’t go out during the week because they work during the day. Mmm. Strange.

 

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Adidas x Who ??

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Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Jeremy Scott, Mark McNairy, Kazuki Kuraishi, Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim from Opening Ceremony/Kenzo… This never-ending list is not the next Fashion Week schedule but the list of designers who collaborate with Adidas. The Adidas roster which now also includes the designer Tom Dixon and Kanye West, will probably welcome Pharrell Williams as well, who has almost confirmed the rumor by wearing a red Adidas Track Jacket during the last Grammy Awards. adidas-x-Kanye-West (1) Thus, Adidas which has just stolen Kanye West from Nike, acts unlike his famous rival by accumulating partnerships. These collaborations are not fleeting as well as they are not only related to a specific product. In this way, for most of them, they have become side product-lines developed through several years.

At the first sight, these collaborations seem to be a brilliant idea. Indeed, the fashion world keen on Hypebeast or HighSnobiety loves the announcements such as a top-designer like Raf Simons who teams up with Adidas. Thus, this kind of collaboration generates an immediate buzz. Nevertheless, in order for a partnership to be convincing, it is above all a matter of mutual passion and universes. For instance, even if the Kanye West recruitment looks like great news for Adidas, but currently Kanye West particularly matched Nike in people’s mind thanks to the most innovative and striking sneakers launches. Whereas Nike and Kanye West collaborated sporadically on a single product and distributed theirs sneakers only in a few selected retailers that created huge expectations for sneakerheads, Adidas x Kanye West, according to both of them, would be a larger collaboration on a range of unlimited products like Adidas x Opening Ceremony or Adidas x Jeremy Scott. Furthermore, at least regarding their impact on US mainstream culture, Nike and West seem to share more than the American artist and the German brand.

That is why except if they are concealing an amazing launch, a new innovative technology or a groundbreaker design, the coming collaborations between Adidas and West or Pharrell would be not relevant. Even if at the time these side lines are quite commercially successful, because of the proliferation of collaborations (and I will not tackle subjects such as one-shot partnerships with retailers like WoodWood or brands like Clot, or the integrated lines like Porsche Design or late-SLVR), because of the choice of retailers as well as the lack of coherency in the choice of designers, these partnerships do not look “honest”.

The trendsetters do not any longer rush for Y-3 and they have never done it for Adidas x Opening Ceremony (editor note: except for VQ who recently bought a fluo leopard tee from them). For a brand, the choice of the right interpreter may be difficult. It could be an artist (Adidas x Lee Quinones), a fashion designer (Adidas x Raf Simons), a sportsman (Nike x Jordan), an architect (Melissa x Zaha Hadid), or a designer (Puma x Starck)…  However, the success of a collaboration does not only rely on the fame of the interpreter, no more than in the product itself. For instance, the designer Michael Graves teamed up with Alessi and then with Target. He created almost the same kettles. Nevertheless, they sold much more Alessi one than Target one while the Alessi kettle was much more expensive. Indeed, the partnership between Alessi and Graves was approved by Alessi customers as well as Graves lovers while Graves lovers was not interested in Target and Target customers did not care about Graves.

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About this point, Nike used to act in an opposite way. Nike does not complete a lot of partnerships and the collaborations are temporary and limited. Of course, Nike teams up with Jordan on a wide range but nowadays, the Jordan brand image is quite separated from the Nike brand image and the Jumpman logo is almost as famous as the Swoosh logo. Nike is collaborating with Riccardo Tisci but only on a product that linked them through basket-ball: the Air Force One. Finally, Nike x Undercover is the only collaboration which is not limited both in time and range, however this line is related to SPORT. Whereas Dior and Chanel have created Haute-Couture sneakers for the last Haute-Couture week, Adidas creates sport products only with Stella McCartney. Adidas continues to believe in the so 00’s “retro” field: for Adidas, the most important launch of the year must be the Stan Smith come-back. Adidas does not believe in sport while it supports more athletes in more sports. Adidas creates more technologies than Nike but not the dream ones: Air vs. Adiprene, Flyknit vs. Primeknit, Lunarlon vs. Boost,… More than an umpteenth Adidas Forum customized by Jeremy Scott, we would prefer an uncrowded roster and a back to innovation and creation which it may be heralded by the Adidas x Rick Owens Tech Runner.

Less is more… rick-owens-for-adidas-2014-fallwinter-tech-runner-1  The « Interpreter » concept is taken from « Design Driven Innovation » (Roberto Verganti, Harvard Business Press).

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Urban Outfitters – Less Than Sorry

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If it’s in our head, why do we need to wear it on our shirt?

Wherever we go, we are surrounded by depression and being told to ‘eat less.’ From new fad diets exploded in magazines to every day misery. It’s everywhere. Urban Outfitters have recently put themselves out there by retailing a black and white crop top with the word ‘depression’ emblazoned repeatedly. Yes, not a perfect fit.

Urban Outfitters have been known to throw fashion out of the ordinary; in 2010 they sold a women’s t-shirt posed by a ghostly model which read ‘eat less’, just in case you needed reminding. Are they incapable of thinking of a clever stunt to lure customers, or must they really offend, upset and anger their followers? I don’t find it offensive, upsetting or angering – I just find it lame.

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They claim that the idea stemmed from ‘Depression’, being the name of the company who made the shirt and often design clothes with monochromatic looks in avant-garde shapes. Their bio page quotes ‘Depression represents breaking from boredom, making a statement and standing out’ – I suppose this reflects their own personal story of breaking out of depression, but why would you want to be reminded of a dark time from the past? Depression say it’s a reminder ‘that when you feel unhappy, you have the power to change that.’ I say, leave it in the past with shag bands, scrunchies and fluffy boots.

Similarly, Asda and Tesco were blasted last Halloween for selling outfits stigmatising people with mental health issues. The ‘scary’ outfits looked like a lost member from Slipknot but many people saw this as offensive and a good example of how we’re stuck in the Dark Ages. Is this excusable just because it’s a Halloween outfit and not ‘fashion’? I feel that we are over-sensitive about many things today and I think brands know that they will offend someone, especially if they’re focusing on a sensitive topic. You may not agree, but I think it’s worth the risk. It’s daring and precarious but they’ve achieved one of the things they wanted – conversation.

So, where do Urban Outfitters go from here? They’ve made their statement, they’ve got people talking about it and after all this palaver they finish off with a sweet, meaningful apology, really. I can imagine many will be ‘boycotting’ buying from them until they see the next, irresistible hipster t-shirt they must have, to blog about. I can’t see Urban Outfitters ever stop from pulling stunts like this – it’s what they’re known for and customers will walk in, trying to get a peek at the t-shirt which says “depression.” Job done, until the next time.

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Suicide Girls Hopefuls: feminist freedom or marketing trap?

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In 2001, a massive buzz started to flow for an alternative community, Suicide Girls.  Founded by photographer Selena Mooney (Missy Suicide) and her partner Sean Suhl (who’s now also a founder of a Tinder-like app), the core idea is that women commit “social suicide” by refusing to conform to the American ideal of a beautiful woman, by refusing to “fit into the mold”.

The media embraced this interesting positioning; sending a photo was an act of commitment; a lot of pioneers were sincere activists ant the supposed authenticity of the founders was a good driver for editors and journalists.

But things have quickly changed; not only in the American society (one in five adult American has a tattoo which makes us wonder: what is the new mainstream?) but on the way the SG community is used.

The Feminist Atheist pointed a lot of scaring points when a girl is finally accepted to become a Suicide Girl:

“This has resulted in the resale of ex-models images to porn sites that are far from feminist and pro-woman”.

The link between porn and…feminism is in this matter at least pretty bizarre. Even former models start to complain:

“A group of angry ex-models is bashing the SuicideGirls alt-porn empire, saying its embrace of the tattoo and nipple-ring set hides a world of exploitation and male domination”.

The SG staff argues that it’s only a minority of models who complain versus an active community of happy women…But still.

More recently, with the rise of Instagram and visual sharing networks, I was pretty amazed by a trend: SuicideGirl Hopefuls. Basically, young Instagram users spread willingly photos of themselves, most of the time in “hot” positions. A trend very similar to #dedipics … despite the curation of only professional and politically-correct snapshots on the official account.

Maybe I’m too old-fashioned or it’s maybe because I work in digital marketing but this trend sounds a lot, a LOT like a marketing trap dedicated to the modern exploitation of women. The argument that 51% of the members of the site are women does not seem very relevant to lower my feeling.

What do you think about that?

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