Everybody talks about differentiation these days: customisation, monogramming, stickers, bag straps – brands are thinking long and hard about how to give customers the tools to play with their products.
But what I find fascinating is the contrast with the need to blend-in. Sneakers make a compelling example: last year, everybody was buying Stan Smith again. Unisex, comfortable, vintage, white, they had everything to please. The only area you could play with was the hint of colour: I’m sure you thought long and hard about the colour you picked and how it would fit with your favourite pair of jeans.
This year, from what I see when I look at your feet in the street and on social media, Vans are winning the come-back game. And this time, not much to play with.
Photocred: instagram @sorayabakhtiar
We all follow the trend with docility and give those forgotten brands a lovely bump to their bottom line, allowing them to have a second life just before falling back into oblivion next year. We buy them to blend-into the trend. In an era that seems to be catering to the individual taste, I have never seen that many similarly dressed fashionistas. We all seem to be wearing the same thing. So, has anything really changed since our High School years?
My take on it is that the world is a scary place right now, and while we want to express our personality, there is only so much risk fashionistas are willing to take. We are happy to play around with stickers, but we need a controlled framework for us to play within. We are asking brands to give us the canvas, the brushes and the model before we can create our own version of the masterpiece.
We want to create Differentiated Uniforms.
I see a very interesting opportunity for brands: while they need to give their customers options to personalise, the object of personalisation needs to be mainstream and controlled. The it-bag is not dead, it’s just transferring the creativity from the designer to the customer, giving more space for the customer and less place to the designer. We all want the same bag, but we want it monogrammed and with our own key chain dangling. It needs to say: I master the trends but I also have taste and personality. I am developing my own version of your vision.
It needs to say: I am a designer. Just like you.
Bag from Coach, Stickers from Anya Hyndmarch, Sneakers from Vans, Scarf from Bimba y Lola.
Coco, reporting from the front.