Would you wear this?
Back in secondary school (a.k.a. high school), the art department organised an evening fashion show and the year 9 students had to create their outfits for the runway in art class. Year 9 = around 14 years old.
The theme was Brighton Rock. One of my friends decided to dress as an enormous helter-skelter and had a sign on her front saying “50p a ride”. One of the teachers should probably have vetoed that but I guess naivety can be considered a fashion statement?
I, on the other hand, plucked out the tiniest, slinkiest piece of black material I could find, stitched myself into it, wrote something on it in gold glitter, and paired it with my mother’s black leather knee-high boots. I think my mother should have vetoed that.
And then there was the highlight of the show. We’ll call her Levi because that is her name. She went as a stick of rock. Totally on-theme. Her costume was made out of bright pink cardboard which spanned the length of her whole body. A fierce look.
The ‘models’ entered from the two wings of the stage, walked to the front, descended a couple of steps, and then strutted down the runway in pairs (apart from the girl in the helter-skelter costume, who had become the width of a car).
Everything was going well for Levi. The pink was poppin’.
That is, until she had to walk back up the steps.
Because of the way her costume was made, she couldn’t properly bend her knees. So as she tried to step up, she face-planted right onto the stage. And while she did a great job mimicking a flapping salmon, the poor girl couldn’t get back up again. And to make it worse? THE PERSON WHO WAS WALKING WITH HER SIMPLY STEPPED OVER HER AND EXITED STAGE RIGHT.
So Levi was stranded in front of an audience of older students and parents with cheeks as pink as her cardboard. And if you’re convinced someone must have come to help her escape from this costume calamity, you’d be oh-so mistaken.
Her only option was to use her arms to slide herself off stage. (And then probably contemplate moving school.)
What a way to make a lasting impression.
These days, the only fashion shows I watch are on Project Runway. Come on, it’s an amazing show. DON’T JUDGE ME.
Anyway, the same comment comes up every season.
Your work must have a point of view.
Fulfil the brief… but make sure we can see who you are as a designer in the garment.
It’s just the same with your brand. It must have a point of view. Perhaps multiple points of view.
Because that’s not only how we can see who YOU are within the brand, it’s how your best-fit clients can recognise themselves.
It is supposed to polarize. It is supposed to ruffle feathers. It is supposed to challenge that damn status quo. It is supposed to intrigue some and repel others. It is supposed to make people think in a new way. It is supposed to expose something deeper.
One of Apple’s points of view is that technology should be a blend of innovation and art.
One of Patagonia’s points of view is that everything they do should be eco-friendly and ethical.
One of Cards Against Humanity’s points of view is that humans have darkness within them that can be turned into fun.
There’s a cool quote by Diana Vreeland: “Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them – and what’s more, they expect it from you.”
Do you think this was about fashion or brands? In reality, it doesn’t matter, because it applies to both. So…
If you have a strong point of view but you’re not sharing it:
>>> Consider whether this point of view is really something you can get behind. Because if it is, why aren’t you sharing it?
If your point of view is the same as a hundred other service-providers and isn’t differentiating you:
>>> Consider what drives you nuts about your industry and ‘the way things are done’ and come up with your own unique way to change it.
If you’re not sure what your point of view even is:
>>> Consider what you want to stand for, what you want to stand against, and how you see the world. What within your answers are you scared to say? This is the starting point.
Wear those points of view with pride! I’m *sure* they’ll look better on you than a stick of rock costume would.