The best marketers bake their advertising into their work.
Whether you’re an athlete, an author, or a baker, the product speaks for itself. Your trade either breeds trust and gets shared by others or falls at the wayside.
Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein put their money where their mouth is.
But there are of course ways to exaggerate one’s abilities.
David Beckham was a good football player, not great. Karl Lagerfeld is a good designer, but no one amazing. The difference is how these two talk about themselves and strategically elevate their game by raising their awareness platform.
Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is what the consumer tells themselves. Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.
“The genie is out of the bottle. I’m never going to be niche again. I’m commercial establishment. I would love to be weird and unattainable again. That’s what I wanted to be—to live in poverty but be like Giacometti.”
Paris-based fashion designer, Rick Owens, when asked about his success.
Be sure to check out the interview plus a profile on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the latest newsletter.
In an interview with Fader Magazine, Nike FC’s Design Director Pete Hoppins says the Nigeria kit was actually the easiest one to design:
Nigeria was actually the easiest! That’s everyone having fun. We worked closer with the players and the Nigerian federation to make that happen. The hardest were Brazil and England, just like always. It’s got to be a yellow kit and a white kit, respectively. You have to deliver that. Otherwise, you’ll be shot. [laughs] How do you move those forward every two, four years? Especially when you’re trying to innovate the performance. We’re not just going to add things to the kits for the sake of it.
What Nigeria is hopefully going to allow us to do in the future is show that some of the more traditional teams that if you are willing to be creative in the partnership, you can ultimately have something more culturally relevant that connects with the youth.
Luxury fashion house Balenciaga knows how to nail the type of ugly design that gets people talking.
In Fall 2017, it debuted the Bernie Sanders-inspired logo he used for his 2016 campaign. But this time around, the company once referred to as “the master of all” by Christian Dior, will release a double-shirt as part of its Fall 2018 lineup.
Said its creative director Demna Gvasali on the rule-breaking t-shirt shirt:
“I think it’s very interesting, the definition of ugly. I think it’s also very interesting to find this line where ugly becomes beautiful or where beautiful becomes ugly. That’s a challenge I like. I think that’s a part of what fashion stands for and I like that people think my clothes are ugly; I think it’s a compliment.”
Ugly can be beautiful. Prada’s head fashion designer Miuccia Prada agrees: “The investigation of ugliness is, to me, more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human. It touches the bad and the dirty side of people.”
Hearing impaired photographer Kate Fichard teamed up with a former design school classmate at the Paris-based F&D studio to create a fashionable hearing aid.
Called the H(earring) project, it just won first prize for accessories at the most prestigious festivals for young designers, The International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères, France. Kudos to the F&D team for injecting some style and design into hearing aids, what some would consider high-fashion.
“Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of societies: those where you can get a shoe shine and those where you can’t,” wrote Roger Cohen in a 2008 Op-ed.
Americans love their shoe shines. The opposite is true of egalitarian societies like France where such a cleaning service “rubs the Gallic egalitarian spirit the wrong way.” But in New York and Chicago, shoe shiners are aplenty.
“There’s something about having someone applying polish to a blithe client’s boots that comforts American notions of free enterprise, make-a-buck opportunism and the survival of the fittest.”
Yet, as Thomas Chatterton Williams so wisely notes, there’s a price to pay for brutal capitalism. As an American expat living in France, he writes: “it’s also nice to live in a society where not everything is for sale. When I landed back in Paris, I placed my heavy bags on a luggage cart, which I unlocked free of charge. It would have set me back $6 in New York.”
“How would he feel if that Louis Vuitton pouch became a whole outfit?” remarked the Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan, aka Daniel Day. And so he made custom clothing for famed sprinter Diane Dixon and rappers Eric B and Rakim, going on to remix all types of designs from the world’s most renowned brands before they shut down his operations.
Dapper Dan’s efforts mimicked the sampling culture which helped give rise to hip-hop at the time. Said Elle Magazine director Samira Nasr, “Sampling was taking existing music and slicing it to recreate new sounds for original lyrics. Dap was sampling in a way. He was taking existing fabrications and breathing new life and beauty into them.”
The urge to remix also came out of Dap’s own experiences growing up poor in Harlem. “My sense of style came from having holes in my shoes. I was in third grade, and I would put cardboard and paper in the bottom of my shoes.”
Remix culture is the foundation of the Internet, the biggest copy-paste machine. But Dapper Dan predates the likes of Nasty Gal and other fashion outlaws looking to recast something new. Thanks to Gucci’s branded version of the jacket and nod to Dapper Dan, the couturier is finally getting the attention he deserves.
Real collecting begins in lust: I have to have this, live with this, learn from this, figure out how to pay for this. It cannot be about investment or status. Like making art, writing about it or organizing its public display (in galleries or in museums), collecting is a form of personal expression. It is, in other words, a way to know yourself, and to participate in and contribute to creativity, which is essential to human life on earth.
‘‘Let me tell you something,’’ he began. ‘‘The great art collections were made from very little money. Nowadays, rich people wait for things to become expensive before they buy them. And why? Because they may not be flattered to have something in their house that they bought for little money, even if it is great. But you know, I had Warhols and Basquiats and I gave them away because I thought they would not last.’
What makes art valuable is not the price but the enjoyment in collecting what mirrors your own interests or confounds them. Whether or not the item(s) ever become popular is secondary.
The new Nike Sportswear x VSCO filter dropped while I was on vacation last week in the Dominican Republic. It paints a Mars-like effect on your photos. This is how VSCO describes it on its blog:
“the preset creates a bold, duotone look using strong black and red hues. The tonal range of each image is remapped to these two colors, resembling the innovative look and expressive style of Nike Tech Pack.”
As I typically do with every new preset release, I go back and try it on recent photos to see what works. Portraits and scripture seemed to work out best. Here are some of the ones that came out.
Nike has sponsored a VSCOCam filter before with the NikeLab ACG x VSCO. It also featured a dark aesthetic.
I love creative accidents. I originally applied the Nike Sportswear preset on this image and the changed it to preset X5 but the sky retained some of the red and black from the Nike preset.
You can see a bunch more pictures from the trip on the VSCO Grid and on Instagram (@bombtune).
Everybody is unique, but on the whole, there’s still the average. Average height, average SAT score, there is even ‘average looking.’ From clothing to education to body features, there’s always been a standard.
According to 99% Invisible’s podcast ‘On Average,’ Belgian astronomer/mathematician Adolphe Quetelet discovered what we now know today as the ‘average’ when he aggregated the mean chest size of five thousand Scottish soldiers. Consequently, he took his philosophy and applied to other areas such as marriage and human lifespan, forever stamping his law of averages on the world, starting most notably with the Civil War.
However, with increased manpower required for World War II, the Air Force jettisoned the average American pilot for new planes with customizable seating, later adapted to account for female pilots such as five foot four Senior Air Force pilot Kim Campbell. She successfully flew her A10 Warthog to safety despite getting hit and losing all hydraulics during the aerial raid of Baghdad in 2003 Iraq.
So despite the continued standardization of certain clothing sizes and educational tests, today we are at least more flexible and egalitarian. You still have the option–albeit an expensive one–to order custom-made Nikes and a bespoke suit. The world is yours. Kind of.
Unlike technological innovations, fashion is cyclical — what’s uncool now will be fresh again decades from now.
The latest victim to fall into the uncool category of clothing are cargo shorts. The US and British military created cargo pants in the 1940s to hold more ammunition. Front-pocket cargos are perfect for the gadget-obsessed world we live in today. But practicality can be ugly. Even the GOAT got called out. From the Wall Street Journalarticle:
In 2012, Michael Jordan was playing golf in cargo shorts at a Miami country club when he was asked to change his pants. He reportedly refused and left.
I grew up in the 90s and just threw my last pair away this year because the pockets ripped. My wife was happy to see them go.
“Men want to be like James Bond. Bond never wears cargo shorts.”
I don’t want to be like Bond — I’m just ‘a dude’ in search of a one-stop shop to help carry all my pocket gear. Can slim jeans do that? But hey, if Jason Bourne wears cargo shorts how out of date can they be?
A few days ago I tweeted “No more adult coloring books.” I did not mean to disparage the inner artist, just the fad that makes $12 million in sales a year. Why do people stop making art in the first place?
“Children learn through play, but adults play through art.” – Brian Eno
I found out that today is National Coloring Book Day, so I did a little research. I stumbled upon Back in the Days Coloring Book by photographer Jamel Shabazz. The 32-page coloring book is based on Shabazz’s 2001 photography book which documents New York’s hip hop scene from 1980-1989.
Here are some images from the coloring book:
“In essence, all of my work is nostalgic, so almost every photograph I took during that time period, could have had a place in the book,” Shabazz tells TIME. “For me personally, I knew that images reflecting the old subway trains and classic fashion were important ingredients.”
I just contributed to the adult coloring book craze and bought a copy myself.