So William, you are a graphic designer by profession. What’s your most iconic memory as far as denim graphics are concerned?
I’ve always been inspired by fashion as a kid growing up in London in the 80s and 90s. The branding and iconic pieces from that era have resonated with me ever since I was rocking my electric blue Lois jumbo cords with the iconic bull or the must have accessory of a Pepe key ring, I love seeing these brands come around again along with all the iconic pieces from that era; Farrah/Gabbici/Pierre Cardin and Ellesse.
And is a jean a jean without the branding?
Well…. Despite working in labeling and branding, I think it is. You can tell a good pair of jeans by the cut or the use of fabric; the subtle details that make it stand out. But brands need to communicate their identity and name to the consumer; how can they make this product different from everything else but without emblazoning it with graphics? That’s the question that everyone is asking us right now, because everyone wants to do something a little bit different, they want to stand aside from the rest and yet be subtle and understated. And the minute someone does something different, everyone else jumps on it.
It’s interesting because the ultimate example of that is the Levi’s red tab, it’s funny how everyone wants to emulate that one iconic piece of branding and yet it is so simple.
I think a lot of it comes from the history of a brand. A lot of the places I’ve worked in the past have come from an amazing history, something the brand can tie back to, such as Ben Sherman and the mods. A lot of brands struggle to create something iconic nowadays. For instance North Face putting the logo on the back of their jackets. It’s been around forever but its iconic for them. I think it’s so difficult now for a brand to find something that hasn’t been done.
And is there someone out there who’s a newcomer to the scene who you have responded to? Or someone you think is killing it?
Levi’s have always been an ever present in my research and the recent super limited release of the 1976 501 crafted from left hand twill fabric was a great piece of marketing, simply producing all the branding in mirror image all the way down to the buttons and rivets was just a very cool subtle branding concept (image above)
But as far as younger companies are concerned, I love working with the guys at Lot, Stock and Barrel. The graphic style we used at Coachella and other events looks so fresh and the messaging is always spot on.
So tell me more about your work with Lot Stock and Barrel. You created iron-on patches so people could customize denim jackets at the festival and people went bananas for it!
Customization is not a new trend but nor is it going away. It is now an expectation from the consumer, with fast fashion and legacy brands alike, that the ability to tailor an item to express oneself is the key to a consumer’s heart. They are wearing their heart on their sleeves, literally.
It reminds me of the days of when you go to get a suit made and they put little details in the suit such as your initials to make it more personal you, as apposed to just generic customization.
For the consumer, this is all about “Tell me what I want, now!” 39% of Millennials will go out of their way to use a customized offer compared to 32% in other age groups.1
They understand that this costs, more and are willing to pay for it. 20% of consumers who expressed interest in personalized products were willing to pay a 20% premium.2
But it is not only for Millennials. Customization also speaks so well to a broader audience, giving those who are more traditional lovers of denim the chance to express themselves in a way that is relevant to their own identity.
So with the Coachella concept, that was about exploring customization and making a statement in the denim industry and learning from it too.