Last week I was asked, “What brands ARE High WASP approved?” Hmm. We know which brands we don’t like right now. We don’t like Juicy Couture because they scare us. Just the word Juicy scares us. We prefer dry unless you are talking about fresh fruit. We don’t like Coach because they lost their way, although the bags of the late 70’s were perfect. We are temporarily annoyed with North Face because they let their brand promotion overwhelm their function. But, I must point out, we could change our minds at any moment. Because at the end of the day, we want Self over Brand. We want to define our style – and our identities – ourselves, thank you very much. And the brands we don’t like are generally those that self-consciously, overtly, engage in Branding with a capital B. So in trying to win us, you lose. Unless you are very subtle, careful, or ironic. I would argue, for example, that the new Lilly designs, some of them, have quite the potential for irony. But I digress.
That’s the bad news for retailers. What a persnickety bunch we are, even though we no longer hold the bulk of the country’s discretionary income in our discrete leather wallets. The good news is that if you design things we like, we are open. If you’ve dug yourself into a hole via indiscriminate logoing, or too many ads in women’s magazines, like Louis Vuitton for example, we might go through some torment before purchase. But in the end, design, of both form and function, will win out. The thing beats the brand. As long as you adhere to the principles of clean lines, judicious use of color, and usefulness, that is. If you need to carry something, the purse has to allow for carrying. If you want to put something on your feet, you have to be able to walk. If necessary through a muddy field. With horses.