Part of this is our fault; we don't ask fashion a ton of deep questions. (Do we even want to?) And as long as it's teetering on this precarious ledge, the door is open for somebody to give it a little shove.
Case in point: Etam Takes on The KooplesFashion here is manifested by The Kooples, a beautiful high-end French-meets-hipster brand whose founders, in a recent issue of Grazia, confessed to having visualised the ad campaign before setting themselves to the actual task of designing.
The offline ads are homemade (digital's done by Digitas) and follow the same general format. They highlight a glamorous-looking couple, list their names, how long they've been together, and sometimes where they met. (The stories never go deep; couples typically only boast a track record of a couple of years, and often meet at less-than-profound places.)
If you seek relatability in a Kooples ad, you'd be hard-pressed to find it: this is drugs, sex and rock-n'-roll for the privileged set, only thinly disguised as love (if you think it is at all), or even as real people.* And while I dig the brand, every time I come across one of these ads I still have to stop and be like "Are you fucking serious?" Because matchy daft couples that somehow managed to outlast their coke-laced one-nighter aren't the people I want to dress like.
I apparently wasn't the only one who felt this way. Out of left field comes budget brand Eram, who, with help from Havas' agency H, takes the Kooples concept and exposes it for flagrant plastic shammery:
Translation: "Karl is a photographer. Bahia's a DJ. It was love at first sight at a New York rooftop soirée."
Close in for the kill: "These shoes cost €49,90 -- and that, that's actually true."
Followed by tagline: "Eram: You'd have to be crazy to spend more."
Same basic idea for this one: Barry's an architect, Keira's a performing artist, they met four years ago in a Berlin squat house, these sandals cost €39,90 and that's the truth.
This comparative work serves Eram's brand perfectly: it's a format and a message that drag you back down to earth ... where, incidentally, you'll find even the prices more terre-à-terre.
More images at Dark Planneur's blog.
Examine What You're Asking People to Believe.(Even in fashion.)
A lot of the time your audience will cut you slack. Once in awhile, though, they'll be like, "Seriously? Are you sure you want to be saying that?"
When this happens, sometimes it's best to stick to your guns, as I'm sure The Kooples will. But other times you should ask whether they're right: did you -- and your brand -- get lost in the weeds during conception?
All that said, here's full disclosure: I'm a Kooples shopper. I have never been inside an Eram, and because I'm elitist and spendy, I'd prefer to keep it that way. Do these appropriations make me want to change my mind, considering they validate how I felt about The Kooples' ads?
Not yet. But I still like that somebody called them out. And I like that Eram had the balls and the finesse to do it well. This is the beginning of a relationship.
A big thank-you to @BranislavPeric for furnishing me with the agency information.
*I stand corrected. A friend messaged me today to say he knows a Kooples couple, and they're really a couple!