Month: December 2015

Tremendous Eye Roll: More on Tommy Hilfiger and Celebrity Collaborations

Save Tommy Hilfiger from himself.

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Tommy Hilfiger has announced a design collaboration with Gigi Hadid, a line called Tommy x Gigi, to debut in the fall of 2016.

Cue the largest eye roll physically possible.

Not that this is a terrible idea — it’s not. It’s just bad strategy for Hilfiger in the long run and a case of history repeating itself.

As I discussed in a previous article, Tommy Hilfiger needs to be playing the long game with his brand if he wants it to be an non-laughable, established lifestyle brand again — which, by all the evidence I’ve  seen, is still his goal (luggage, linens, and tablewear are all still for sale on his website, hilariously titled just ‘tommy.com’). His brand collapsed in a cloud of shadenfreude in the early 2000s because of two reasons — it was ultra-trendy, driven totally by logos and random-but-popular celebrity endorsers, and it was publicly owned, which meant it kept churning out insane quantities these truly embarrassing looks long after they were cool too keep shareholders happy. Tommy Hilfiger is now a privately owned company, but Hilfiger needs to guard himself against getting endorsements solely from the hot young stars of the moment, as well as relying too heavily on trendiness.

Which is the problem with Gigi. She is the hottest young thing in both fashion and Instagram culture at the moment, showing up in both ad campaigns and (more and more frequently) gossip columns. She embodies trendiness and mainstream youth culture, the very things Hilfiger should be handling with caution, instead of grabbing with both hands. He’s going to make the same strategic mistake again, and the man can’t help himself.

Hifiger could have made so many other choices of collaborators, ones that would appeal to an older audience with 1) more purchasing power and 2) previous experience with the brand in its pre-hot mess days. These might include Alexa Chung, Leandra Medine, or Solange. He could have still gone for a youthful collaborator, but someone less ubiquitous and bland than Gigi is — someone like Brooklyn Beckham or Tavi Gevinson. He’s a big art collector and could have done something with Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, or Yayoi Kusama (all of whom he collects) to do something more cerebral. But no. The most obvious, popular choice is always Hilfiger’s go-to.

What I would have liked to have seen him do most was to collaborate with another designer for a capsule collection. Gucci just announced a collaboration with Commes des Garçons on a small range of silk scarves — an absolutely brilliant move in line with the Michelesance. Hilfiger should do something similar to this, and specifically partner with a label that can boost his cool factor, like Hood By Air, Public School, or Rodarte.

There are just so many more interesting, smart, and nuanced collaborative options out there for Hilfiger than the model of the moment, and his obstinacy and short sightedness in the matter is off-putting. He doesn’t’ deserve to succeed in this venture, and who knows if he will? Will Gigi be as hot and relevant in a year, when the collection debuts, as she is now? It’s a question Hilfiger should be seriously asking himself. This line may need to move up its timeline.

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Report Card: Holiday Ad Campaigns

Tis the season for holiday ad campaigns! Stars! Mistletoe! Enthusiasm! Here’s the how they stack up.

KATY PERRY H&M

Katy Perry for H&M
Oh. well. Okay.
I cannot fathom with any part of my intellectual consciousness why H&M chose Katy Perry to front this campaign. She irrelevant at the moment, without any new material, and has basically been off the media grid for months. Adele would have been a smarter choice, and would have caused an absolute sensation if she have appeared in the ads in spite of her media-shyness. Sadly, we are instead saddled with Perry posing with candy, yet again. I like the bold black, red, and white color scheme, but that’s the only thing this series has going for it.
Grade: D
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Leandra Medine for Fossil
This is a brilliant choice by Fossil. By choosing someone famous for being in fashion to front the campaign, Fossil is sending a signal that they know what’s relevant in fashion culture, which will cause fashion-forward people to look twice at what they thought was a nonbrand found only in outlet malls. Leandra is someone known for her personal style, which associates individuality and personalization with Fossil, and not just tragic leather goods and watches.She’s shrewd, sardonic,and authentic, and you can guarantee she wouldn’t do this campaign if she didn’t believe in it, adding another layer of credibility. Wear fossil, become a chic, witty, fashion businesswoman? I’ll take it.
Grade: A
Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein for Old Navy
Old Navy, in a move of unutterable genius, tapped Portlandia duo Fred Armison and Carrie Brownstein for a holiday short videos. I thought Old Navy was ready to be stuck with a fork when its CEO left to helm Ralph Lauren, but they have, with this casting choice, reinvigorated their relevancy with awareness of the cool, informed, media culture and a sense of humor. Will this help Old Navy compete with fast fashion? Well there’s the problem — Old Navy’s content isn’t good or fashionable enough to really do damage to fast-fashion chains, who clearly don’t rely on advertising to sell their clothes  (see evidence above). It will, however, get Old Navy back in consumers’ consciousness. What they really need is a cult item that will get people back in stores, like their early 2000s flag tees or mid 2000s madras craze, and then integrate cool capsule collections and a fast fashion business model, at least in part, to keep them there. But at the moment, this is a great step in the right direction.
Grade: A+

Kate Spade Aces the Holiday Campaign

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Kate Spade has created another winning advertising campaign with their holiday series, starring Karlie Kloss and Derek Blasberg. A handful of others feature in the seriees, ranging from the cool, young family who own the online store Aloha Picnic, to singer Alice Smith and her very cute toddler, to serious and black-clad literary agent Anne Borchardt.

The campaign of is made up of two photo series: a whimsical up-close portrait session with shades of Wes Anderson, and a fun, spontaneous-looking session in the back of a limo, featuring Kloss in each frame.

The ads are pitch-perfectly on brand, do a lot of work while seeming effortless. Firstly, the campaign subtly challenges the idea that Kate Spade is exclusively for young white women, by including both men and women, people of color, and includes a diverse range of ages, a brand goal that was laid out in the Miss Adventure series. Secondly, the sophisticated photography quality executed by Emma Summerton makes Kate Spade look cool, less fussy, try-hard, and girly, while still maintaining its signature sense of fun.

Kloss and Blasberg are the real stars of the campaign, though, and what a brilliant pick– the two are best friends in real life, and their chemistry and giggly rapport is evident. Using Blasberg, in particular, was an inspired move, and I can’t fathom why he hasn’t been used in advertising before now. At 33, Blasberg has written and edited for nearly every major fashion publication in existence, consulted for labels from H&M to Chanel, published two books and is currently doing a stint at Gagosian Galley. Handsome, witty, and seemingly close friends with everyone who’s anyone, Blasberg is something like the Andy Warhol or Oscar Wilde of today’s fashion set. He’s a stellar choice for the ads because the audience wants to be friends with him, have a career like his, and can’t help but having a bit of a crush on him.

I love the idea of men fronting womenswear campaigns if the brands are in perfect alignment, like Blasberg’s is with Kate Spade’s. Brad Pitt for Chanel No. 5 was a miss, but the highest profile man-for-womenswear ad to date. Men can be an even more powerful visual rhetoric for a womenswear brand than women can – the kind of man you want to be with can intensely reinforce the kind of brand you want to wear. Eddie Redmayne for Burberry will appeal to some women (me) much more than a random oiled-up Versace guy, and vice versa. I hope to see more of this. Tom Hiddleston for Belstaff! Harry Styles for Gucci! Bill Murray for Kate Spade! The possibilities are endless.