Hanging Chads, Whoops, We Mean Hangtags

June 25 2014

Slowly, but surely it seems the fashion industry is joining the 21st century in terms of social awareness. From racial diversity on the runway, to more body types being shown in ads, to accountability in manufacturing conditions—there seems to be a glimmer of change.

left & right

Which is why when I recently bought a dress from the ultra-cool Swedish collective brand, Acne Studios, I was taken aback by their hangtag design. Acne’s tag uses plastic and two heavy pieces of paper, which seems like (or rather—is) a total waste of resources. It’s overkill. For a brand known for such a modern, sleek, and minimalist aesthetic, the wasteful and environmentally unfriendly tag presents a weird brand disconnect. And Acne is not the only brand to overdo, or rather overuse, in this arena.

left & right

Now, no one is equating runway racism with eco-unfriendly waste in terms of fashion injustices. However, the oddity of the whole issue stems from the lack of thought and consideration. It’s 2014! Our cars can are programmed to stop before they crash. We order our groceries online. We trustingly buy our life insurance online. Therefore it can’t be that hard to design a green and eco-friendly hangtag. Ethical Fashion, an online forum that addresses a wide range of issues within the industry, recently posted about some underground labels using tags that are washer ready. The tags are made of a soap mixture that disintegrates in the washer and rids the fabric of any chemicals added during manufacturing. So it can be done!

Hangtags are an applied expression of a brand’s positioning and design aesthetic. A more thoughtfully designed and produced hangtag can be a win-win for a fashion brand, and a small but easily achievable step in protecting our natural resources.

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Some thoughts on why are there so many movies these days based on real-life stories

June 18 2014

As a culture, we all want to escape to a more fantastic and altered universe. A universe where magic, monsters, and super heroes are commonplace, or at least unsurprising. A universe where every one of us knows all the moves for a beautiful, spontaneous, dance number in the park, with a carriage ride into a velvety summer night in Central Park at the end. For years, audiences have used fantasy (not just in films, but across all media) as an imaginative way out of the pressures of the stressful anxiety of the “Real World”.

However, within in the past couple of years, we have seen the emergence of “True Story” films with story lines based on actual events and/or real people. Of course, films have featured true stories in the past, but typically not in the concentrated numbers of releases that we're seeing now. Films like The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, and The Bling Ring have all gained considerable notoriety in the media and awards shows as well as popularity at the box office.


Of course, one could argue that it’s the star-studded casts that pull viewers into theatres, but I’m more curious as to why there is such an interest in real life stories at this particular moment in time. Why are we so interested in these narratives? As a nation, anxiety and stress is at peak levels. In a pro-digital, pro-tech, pro-CG-that-ocean-into-the-scene world, maybe we're just looking for a different, more authentic connection. We are looking for characters that we can identify with, and not just in the world of made-up super heroes and heroines. It seems that as a culture, we are responding or longing for characters that lived in our world, who know (at a base level) about what we experience. Spiderman may take place in the very real New York City, but Peter Parker's problems are not something we can all relate to. But a worried boat captain, trying to keep his crew safe from pirates? Weirdly it’s real, based on a real man who rose to a real crisis and became a real hero. Now that’s life, and compelling on a profound emotional level.


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Courting the Milennials: Banana Republic Ramps it Up

June 03 2014

with guest blogger Annie G.

Banana Republic is a brand that has long been seen as Gap's older, more mature counterpart (or at least since its induction to the Gap Inc. family in 1983). The company has transitioned from its original positioning, exchanging the original safari themed items and decor for a more polished look. Their aesthetic has been targeted towards Ben and Anna (say it out loud and you'll get it), their fictional, 30-40 year old, well-off, style conscious customer. Simon Kneen, Creative Director since 2009, successfully designed for this audience for many years. However, in recent seasons, Kneen has been criticized for dulling the brand down and perhaps being out of touch with current trends.

photo by Billy Farrell Agency

Enter Kneen’s replacement, Marissa Webb, Banana's new Creative Director. Not only is Webb young and stylish, but she's more plugged in. She's conscious of the vital role social media plays, and is an avid Instagram user. Webb’s personal Spring 2014 line displayed a fresh vision that will help push Banana's image forward, and her point-of-view will create a shift in Banana’s design sensibilities, audience, and marketing that will help them to reach hip, twenty-something millennials and their buying power. While Ben and Anna remain a core part of Banana Republic's demographic, Benji and Annalise are the new kids in town. They may still have brunch dates like their parents, but they're young professionals with blogs to write and tweets to send, and they want to look cute while they’re gramming.

While Webb isn't expected to debut a collection until next summer, her ascension has already created a notable shift in the brand's product. Additionally, the late L'Wren Scott designed a successful colourful and bold collection for the company. Her prints were a bit louder, the colors more saturated. The cuts were sleek and (dare we say) sexy. And all of a sudden, Banana engaged in some effective social media marketing. With the release of Scott’s line came a Twitter/Instagram selfie contest. Fitting room mirrors had decals that read #ThisIsGlam, and encouraged customers to take and post pictures in the collection. Last week, Banana Republic also launched another collaboration with Marimekko, the graphic and funky Finnish brand that has already staged a successful comeback.

While the brand will always be loyal to Ben & Anna, the duo who love neutrals, classic non-iron shirts, and perfectly fitted Sloan pants, the future may have a positive pop of colour for Banana Republic. Will this mass-market clothing brand successfully throw off its mumsy identity and evolve with the times and develop deeper and more vital market reach? We’ll be sipping on our Arnold Palmers and taking a wait-and-see.

photo by Banana Republic

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