Whilst former football hooligan favourite Burberry gets a lot of kudos for its work using Facebook for brand engagement, I think that there are other fashion and luxury brands doing possibly smarter, and certainly more targeted narrowcast social media work. Here are five of them:
Whilst Louis Vuitton’s adverts make me feel queasy with their odd positioning with the likes of Bono, Mikael Gorbachev and Angelina Jolie with the gaudy holdall woven into awkward-looking photo-shoots, LV have been much smarter in their use of location services; notably Foursquare and Chinese counterpart Jiepang. Louis Vuitton uses it very carefully to curate a Louis Vuitton life and encourage store engagement. Recommendations for London include the Southbank Centre, Connaught Hotel and the Fifth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols. This is also likely to filter out all about the most ardent hangers on
Comptoir des Cotonniers (CDC) have a blog with a distinctly homespun look and feel that talks about brand news coverage and the kind of things that influence them. There is a playlist module of saccharin soul on the left-hand side of the page. Even if you can’t use Google Translate to get a feel of what the French language content is about you, can tell by the kind of imagery that accompanies the posts
In a similar vein, Sir Paul Smith has a personal blog that acts as the voice for his fashion brand. It doesn’t give you a sense of their collection but does give a strong sense of who or what Paul Smith the brand actually is. He has a good eye for curating interesting and eclectic imagery and the site feels like it wasn’t pulled together by an intern
At the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of production values is Dunhill; despite the site using Amazon Web Services as a content delivery network this can be a beast to load down anything but the fattest broadband pipe. Their Day 8 section of the site sits somewhere between a magazine and a blog and is stuffed with a range of quality thought-provoking content. Interestingly it hasn’t been updated in the past 80 days. They do publish Day 8 as an iPad application, but it would have been nice if there was an RSS feed for the content, being a busy person I don’t have time to fanny around. If I was the publisher of Esquire magazine I would have a good look at Day 8; as this is what quality men’s interest content feels like
Whilst lots of different fashion houses have used live video to extend the audience of their runway shows (primarily spurred on by trying to crack the massive Chinese market) most of them require you to watch the show from in front of your computer. If you are getting hold of the kind of money it takes to shop with these brands; time in front of your computer is likely to be time wasted. Menswear fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna put it on an iPhone application so you can follow the show whilst waiting for a flight or traveling to a business meeting in a taxi; if you like what you see you can even buy some of the items in-application. Previously this kind of mobile content | m-commerce integration had only been seen in more mainstream brands like Tokyo Girls Collection. Rather than create their own social content on the Zegna site they have started to have fashion bloggers create their own Zegna looks and ‘guest post’ on the Zegna site. Again no RSS though
Japanese bag makers Master-Piece have teamed up with Stüssy for a set of retro looking rucksacks and messenger bags. They aren’t my cup of tea but I am impressed by the way they are made: screen printed canvas, with suede parts to strengthen the bag and leather securing straps.
Veteran streetwear label Stüssy is something that is often now overlooked because of the number of vibrant premium streetwear brands out there is better known for raiding its archives and churning out collaborations (some better than others).
A lot of Shawn Stüssy’s inspiration came from music and culture, so it was interesting to see that the label has been trying to get back to that with its Make Beats competition and it should be no surprise that they have launched a t-shirt and ball-cap collection to go along with it.
Shawn himself moved on in the mid-1990s and is doing his own thing at S-Double – it’s well worth checking out as well.
I tend to use bags with technical fabrics from Porter Tokyo, Timbuk2 and Mystery Ranch but I was struck by how nice this Filson bag was. Filson are an American outfitter that goes back to the 19th century making tough and comfortable clothing and accessories. The bag is made from a similar kind of cotton fabric to Carhartt workwear and with saddle leather accents it looks like the kind of bag that could turn into a family heirloom.
You can buy one online through Manufactum.
French luxury ready-to-wear pioneer and Richemont Group fashion brand Chloé drove forward with an expansionist strategy for the Chinese market earlier this year with a webcast fashion show, corporate blog and an ambitious e-commerce strategy.
The webcast fashion show was supposed to be about the fifth anniversary of the brand, but was more about expanding their share of the Chinese marketplace.
As using social media in luxury goes, it was an ambitious strategy so I decided to revisit the site to see how they were getting on and what innovations they were up to. I went to the web address and got this page.
I’ve tried it a number of times on different networks and computers to make sure that it wasn’t an error on my part.
I know that the site is supposed to be based on servers in Shanghai and that the domain name doesn’t run out until the end of October.
I was surprised to see such an interesting brand exercise apparently given up on so quickly, the Chinese corporate blog would have been about establishing an ongoing relationship with existing, prospective and aspiring customers rather than rolling out what seems to have been a short-term campaign.
WTAPS always deliver products with nice styling and detail but I really like this t-shirt design designed to benefit victims of the Tohuku earthquake. It reminds me of the now-dying trade/art/craft of coach-painting that you used to see in everything from shop signs to hand-painted tractor units of road haulage companies.
When my Dad started working in the shipyard, he had a house sign painted on a piece of oak wood from my grandparents farm by one of the painters on site. Apparently lots of notices on the ships were hand-painted. Now it is easy to print labels and cut signs with computerised equipment.
Impeccably shot footage by film director, hair dresser and streetwear dandy: James Lebon, Shawn Stüssy breaks down the streetwear formula that Neighborhood and Bape went on to follow.
I love the way he makes word-of-mouth and the product-as-marketing concepts which are considered to be cutting edge marketing ideas now, yet spells them out simply back in the day. It also shows how vibrant the culture was in the late 1980s.
I haven’t bought much Stüssy recently mainly because the original label felt like it was treading old ground and many pieces were almost a parody of the Stüssy brand. Some of their best work now is collaborations with newer fresher brands like Porter Tokyo, Clot and Neighborhood. Check it out.
Shawn Stüssy has taken it back to basics going out on his own with S-Double and has more of the cognoscenti vibe that Stüssy label had in the late 1980s and that is where more of my wardrobe is now coming from.
Bring back the baggy pants, rather than the nut crushers that are currently the vogue. I’ve still got a vintage Stüssy varsity jacket in brown and cream that I am known to wear during spring and early summer; I used to have one in black with the IST logo on it but it fell apart last year.
Geek-being a geek is about having smarts and being able to demonstrate them, in fact its what their whole life is about.
Hip – this is about style, even when its being ironic.
Alpha Armoring G55 AMG Armored: Congratulations, as well as charities and a raft of luxury brands, there are probably some undesirable people looking to get a share of your riches. You could do worse than change up your ride to something by Alpha Armouring; the Rolls Royce of bulletproof vehicles. The G55 AMG Armored is based on the high performance version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. A constant striving for perfection and hard lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan provides you with the best-protected high-performance car that money can buy.
FAW Red Flag limousine – when you are going to do a deal with the Chinese government, have something to chit chat about first of all to build a bit of rapport. What would be more manly than talking cars. Chinese president Hu Jintao rolls big in a First Automobile Works Red Flag limousine. Why not do the same? It shows status; but also shows respect for Chinese know-how, enterprise and design. It is pretty exclusive and doesn’t even feature on their web site. It’s also a pretty sharp retro-futuristic ride, think of a luxury saloon that would be right at home on the set of Gattica. Unfortunately they probably won’t pimp your machine out the exact same spec. Have word with the nice people at Alpha Armoring for that. If you want an alternative then the Toyota Century or an environmentally-friendly Nissan Fuga maybe just the thing
IWC | Porsche Design Ocean 2000 Bund 3509 – when you get mega rich, it’s hard to get a sufficiently impressive watch without ending up with a horological monstrosity (Audemars Piguet, Hublot, Officine Panerai etc). Watches gain value by a number of different ways: being made from valuable stuff, being fiendishly complicated, being rare and having a whiff of daring do about them. So some of the most valuable Rolex watches are vintage watches in a style worn by film stars (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery as James Bond) or the divers from COMEX who do the stuff that they usually send robots down to do. The IWC equivalent to to the COMEX Submariner | Sea-Dweller is the Bund 3509. It is based on the IWC Ocean 2000 – a beautifully simple dive watch in titanium and was issued in very limited numbers to German navy divers during the 1980s. Simple, elegant rare and worn by adventurous souls; it is now one of the most sort after modern watches with prices going up form 10,000 Euros when you can get your hands on one
iPad – The Apple iPad is finally becoming worthwhile to purchase with Omni Group porting over many of their applications to take advantage of the touch display to create wire-frames, process diagrams and project management. This follows on from people like SAP using it as a cheaper data-entry and display device. Many designers have held off from the iPad as without software it is a cumbersome Dom Jolly-esque iPhone or an overpriced Wacom graphics tablet. However Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo allows you to capture online ideas from the iPad as well as your Mac and sync between the two over wi-fi. I personally think that Omni and Bare Bones applications could turn out to be as significant as Aldus was for the Macintosh Office concept and Apple LaserWriter range of Postscript-managed laser printers at the time
Matias Tactile Pro 3 keyboard – ironically modern laptops despite their power have gone backwards in their industrial design. Laptop keys are sloppy rubbery items without positive feedback for the typist. In addition, the first Apple PowerBooks used to have little swivel feet on either side of the machine which held the keyboard angle at an ergonomic 11 degrees of elevation. The unibody MacBook Pro I am typing this post on has no elevation at all. So it is always worthwhile having a good quality keyboard in your work area. The Tactile Pro 3 is the Rolls Royce of keyboards, based around ALPS mechanical switches for each key. If it is a bit rich for your finances then US retailer Buy.com do a good compact keyboard by DSI based around Cherry mechanical switches. Neither of these keyboard are going to win jealous glances from design conscious colleagues but your fingers will thank you
Solar ball light by Idea International – Solar-powered lights aren’t new and Suck UK | Tobias Wong’s sun jars are a great example. What I like about the solar ball is how similar it looks to Sputnik or a discrete transistor component. Available in a range of colours reminiscent of Apple’s candy-coloured iMac range
Night night light (robot) by Clifford Richards – Clifford Richards came up with a simple pressed-steel night light that draws its influence from 1950s science fiction and vintage tin toys. I am not sure how a young child wouldn’t be scared to death waking up from a nightmare to sinister robotic shadows, but you have to love the kitsch value of the design
Stefano Giovannoni’s banana family of products for Alessi – the third drop of a collaboration with National Palace Museum of Taiwan brings a cool, but kitsch aesthetic to a range of items from spice holders and napkin rings to cell phone charms
Zero History by William Gibson – the final episode of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition trilogy is a handy way to bury your head in a book and avoid the Queen’s speech or turkey sandwiches
Fan Boys – a road trip film with a difference where Star Wars film geeks take on trekkies and travel across the country to try and get in to see episode one of Star Wars before it airs. The reason for the urgency is that one of them is terminally ill. It involves inter-genre fan fighting, psychedelic drug use and car accidents
Star Wars hooded top- it’s black so it goes with most things in your wardrobe, it zips up – which is like cheap climate control and it has the Star Wars logo on it that glows in the DARK. If that doesn’t impress the ladies, it will still impress your War Hammer-playing friends at the Games Workshop
Korg MicroKorg synthesiser – half of Shoreditch seem to want to live in a Human League-inspired new wave lifestyle. Fortunately genuine synthesiser and vocoders have come down in cost so you and your friends don’t have to gig from your iPads
OperaOpera glasses – be different from your friends and move away from Ray-Ban Wayfarers or at least get a vintage set from OperaOpera who also make their own frames
Shawn Stüssy has revisited his roots in t-shirt design with a set of five limited edition t-shirts which hark back to the collage style of early Stüssy designs in the 80s and early 90s mirroring the appropriation in the sampling culture of hip-hop music and pop art.
The t-shirts address themes such as classic soul music, root reggae and classic cars.
Go into any mobile phone retailer in the UK and look at the sea of tat that passes itself off for products that have allegedly been designed as accessories that will improve your mobile phone experience. It doesn’t have to be this way, and I have proof that phone accessories can mean great product design. Step forward Japanese mobile phone carrier KDDI and their artfully designed iida range of products.
My particular favourite is the Biscuitta charger accessory to help you organise your charger cable.
Stüssy have tapped into Neighorhood‘s super-stylin’ mojo to get a collection together for this winter. The clothes and the designed that have dropped so far aren’t that special, however I did like this video vignette that they did to provide a bit of colour around the high concept that drove the collection design.
The designs are supposed reference the West Coast motorcycle culture of the 1950s – 1970s and the Boneyards sub-label comes from the name of a surfing spot in San Pedro, California. Trevelen is immersed in the culture and imparts some of that history on this video.