From High Fashion to Hobo Fashion
What would happen if one day, you were a designer, and the public decides to label your brand as the best “hobo fashion” ever?
I’m sure you are familiar with the clothing line A&F. Not only are they considered pretty high fashion, their employees are practically models. No kidding. The store targets mainly “youths” of 18-22, and insist that only size 0-2 apparel are available…
It first started out as a promotional thing. As a brand, they were given a lot of freedom to construct a public image since the label was relatively new. However, it was no surprise that their appraisal of the young and the rich starting to annoy people.
Blogger Gerg Karber then made it his personal goal to take on A&F with the “Hobo Fashion” project. He thought it was hypocritical that A&F glorifies everything its CEO is NOT; he actually resembles an older version of Biff from Back to the Future. Not only did this CEO refuse to offer plus-size outfits, he has stated: “There are only 2 kinds of people in school. The popular ones, and the unpopular ones. We follow the first group. And the rest just have to suck it up.” He also set up another rule: If any NG clothing turn up, A&F would burn it rather than donate it to the salvation army.
Hence, the attack begins. First Karber went and picked up a variety of A&F apparel from a second-handed store, then mailed them to the poorer districts in L.A for the homeless to wear. He even made a Youtube tutorial for this project:
First, raid your closets and gather all the unwanted A&F clothing you have. Donate them to the homeless. Post this message on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform you’re involved with, and add the tag #FitchTheHomeless.
In terms of branding, I think that A&F did a great job. It gives the public a consistent message from designing, market, packages and promotions. Everything about it screams “For the Coolest Youths!”, and we get it. The thing is, it is an extremely annoying message.
Marketers and Consumers Both Matter
There are many cases where the consumer ultimately decides the value of a brand. For instance, the common ASUS slogan “Tough as Rock” is generally reassigned as “Egg on Rock”. This is proof that, no matter how good you present yourself, if it is not sincere, it will definitely be redefined and ridiculed.
▲ So, how does this slogan sound to you?
Today is the age of social media. Thanks to how common and advanced it is, we get to utilize it to max. With mediums like Youtube and Facebook, the user gets to voice their opinions directly to the marketers. They also have the power to literally change a brand’s status and image by means mentioned above.
No one knows if any plan will be successful or not, though. And it’s not that I’m trying to encourage anyone to troll bigger labels, either. This is just to point out that, “branding” is not a one-way thing anymore.
Companies now have to closely think about the way their brand images are received more than ever. If everyone thinks that there is something wrong with your brand, chances are that there really is something wrong with it. On the other hand, good products no longer need to rely on exposure as much as they did in the past. If its good, don’t worry. We’ll know.
About the author
Internet Marketing Observer: Mika
Born in the 60s, and enrolled in the consumer marketing industry for over a decade.
Experienced Brand Strategic Planning, Product Innovation and all the way to Product Launching and Marketing.
Follows the status of traditional marketing as well as changes in Web2. 0 and Social Media.