Friday, 4 December 2009

Oh to look old. What a difference a product-base makes.

Skincare brands fight for who can sell the most youth-inducing product. Their most expensive, often best selling, products are designed to make you look young. To convey this, the brands themselves want to look young; fresh; light. Anti-ageing serums. Light diffusing makeup. The aim is to reverse the effects of time.

Not so for some clothing brands it seems. They, on the other hand, want to look "old". Especially the newer brands. Fashionista has often wondered what random dates on t-shirts mean. For example, "Hollister 1922"? Well, in Hollister's case (Abercrombie & Fitch's sister-brand), it apparently means nothing. According to the BBC website, the Hollister brand was establish in 2000, and the brand's "history" of John Hollister senior - an adventurous traveller who set up the Hollister brand on his return to the US after a brief stint in the Dutch East Indies - is also fictional.

So why go to such extreme lengths? and what are the effects and implications of portraying a fake brand history as the truth? How much do consumers really care?

Fashionista suspects that this depends on who the consumers are. Does this come back to the issue of age? or does it come down to a price tag? do you have to pay for the truth?

A BBC article suggests that Hollister fans are unlikely to care, or they're not likely to feel misled or disgruntled by the falsification of facts. Fashionista wonders whether this is because Hollister products (at fairly standard high street prices) are aimed at a younger audience who may give more attention to the look of a brand rather than to what is behind it.

Compare this to how puchasers of high end luxury goods would feel if they were sold their (real not counterfeit) "It-bag" together with a fake story of brand conception and history? Fashionista suspects that this consumer would feel misled or disgruntled, and may abandon the brand. When a fashionista buys a luxury product, she is buying "into" that brand and what it represents. So, for her to then find out that what she has been sold is a lie, well doesn't that somehow tarnish what she has just bought into?

In terms of effects on the brand: new brands which suggest long-ago establishement are trying to create better images of themselves for consumers. Longevity, especially in the current economic climate, suggests an ability to withstand all sorts of problems, trials and tribulations. It suggest success. Beating the competition. Quality. Value. All attributes which older brands have spent many years (and resources) cultivating. Fashionistas often have their favourite brand and will continue to add to their collection out of loyalty for the brand. And so, the question for brands to consider is this: if the story customers are being sold is fake - even if the product is not - are those customers likely to come back for more?