In the day of $70 tees, “exclusive, one of fifteen in production” sneakers going for over a stack and an economic recession, watching brands & designers bring the products back down to a fiscal reality is refreshing. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been paying closer attention to a handful who’ve made the move to help you save a few beans while still looking fly. As well, there are other brands making changes in their design & presentation that take away from depending on their lofty name & focusing on what matters most: quality. Here’s a few.
Freshjive drops labeling — After years of success in the clothing industry, Freshjive founder Rick Klotz had a moment of clarity & decided that slapping their logo on their gear was unnecessary.
Since I started Freshjive, I have had a personal conflict with this business of “branding.” In fact, I was so conflicted at one time, that I quit working. I am in the business of promoting the company brand yet personally I am not interested in items for the brand name. It’s a bit of a quagmire with me because I hate the culture of promoting a brand yet I enjoy designing clothes and t shirt designs.
Beginning with our spring 2010 line, we will no longer be using our brand logo or name on any of our product, including all labeling and t shirt designs. Nowhere on any product will our name or previous brand logo be used anymore. [Norml]
This one will depend on several factors. While the majority of Americans don’t mind buying into a brand (*raises hand), there are those who despise it. Assuming that both factions do demand quality & Freshjive’s already strong name, the company is on firm enough footing to pull off this move.
Al Harrington’s Protege A3Hsneakers — A few weekends ago, I spent a majority of my time watching NBA’s Greatest Games on NBA TV & they played Al’s commercial countless times. They definitely have a budget for marketing, considering the shoes only cost $15. Who would’ve imagined that my size 13 is sold out on Kmart’s site?
Fat Joe’s sneaker for K-Mart — Initially, Joe was going for a shoe to be called “The Recession.” Right alongside Al’s Protege model will be Joe’s sneaker, complete with a small TS logo across the midfoot. I’m sure that doesn’t signify “Tony Sunshine.” Nah, I kid I kid. Question his pedigree on a lot of fronts, but Joe’s a sneakerhead tried & true (whattup Macho!) so to see him give back in this manner is all the way respectable. What I can’t figure out is if both Joe & Al have the same model shoe, why his are going to be $35? Either way, at least today’s bobo’s don’t look like the cheap, pleather knockoffs from the 80’s. Upside down Swoosh signs & Voits were never the business.
Jeff Staple To Make Airwalks Exclusively For Payless — This had to be the one collaborative move no one expected out of designer Jeff Staples. Branding has propelled him to the heights of success. Let’s face the facts: the man has the Midas touch. the Pigeon Dunks & his designs for New Balance bring good bread in the sneaker community. For Pete’s sake, he was able to add the “x” to a collaboration with Kia Motors. Yet, partnering with Airwalk for STPL 4 Airwalk was something he wanted to do
“Payless has over 4,500 stores worldwide and has a much, much lower average price point than more renowned sneaker boutiques like Leaders or Commonwealth. ‘If you were a graf artist, you did the side of a train so everyone could experience your creation,’ Staple recounted in Collective’s press release on the partnership, ‘As a graphic designer, I want my works published and available for everyone to see.’ He makes a strong case. The sheer amount of stores he’ll have his name in, in this case they’ll be produced under the “STPL 4 Airwalk” name, would be difficult for anyone to pass up and more than that, Payless’ inexpensive price points make a product more accessible and available to a wider customer base.
‘What gets me most excited, though, is the reach of Payless. I feel like the age of ‘1-of-24′ or ‘1-of-100′ is becoming obsolete. If you were a graf artist, you did the side of a train so everyone could experience your creation. As a graphic designer, I want my works published and available for everyone to see. As a DJ, I want to play in front of the biggest possible crowd. So why shouldn’t this same philosophy hold true for sneaker design? I am really looking forward to reaching this wider audience and having a larger impact as a designer. Thanks Payless! [SC]’ “
True enough and sure it “ruffled some pigeon feathers,” which the brand knows. But you can’t win worldwide fame by doing limited releases alone. And given skateboarding’s role in the resurgance of sneaker culture, it’s good to see one of the originators like Airwalk given a shot in the arm.
Absolut No Label Edition Vodka — In an attempt to embody the company’s motto — “In An ABSOLUT World, There Are No Labels” — they’ve stripped away all the labels. For a brand know for their witty advertising, this is just as ingenious as anything they’ve ever done. In the age of Obama & Beer Summits, they know what we all know — people can get drunk & all be friends.