Brand Oversaturation

(Giorgio Armani Cafe. I didn’t know M. Armani knew all about coffee and croissants!) Istanbul, Turkey

Brand saturation: When The Going Gets Greedy; how much is too much? Opinion, open to comments and suggestions and opinions! 🙂

Brand saturation. We all know it, even if we don’t realize it. This can also fall under “excessive licensing” to those who are more industry savvy. It’s a topic I find fascinating, and will be doing several posts in regards to it.

You know it. Most people think that Ralph Lauren dreamed up the exact combo of lilies and roses to make his perfume, or that he is just a jack of all trades and knows how to make a watch move. And now look, he has bed linens and plates and picnic baskets! You can go from the cradle to the grave, all day long, using Ralph Lauren.

Not so fast. It’s all licensed. It amazes me, when I bring this up to people in casual conversation, either they’re showing off their new bracelet or admiring the Dior mascara, and I remark about the profits of licensing. Really? He doesn’t design these flip flops? Sorry to burst your bubble about him being your dream guy (designer). I guess my FIT education did me some good after all.

It’s a win win. I do the work, but I get to borrow your name. You don’t do the work, but take less profit and trust me with your name. I personally feel the brand gets the better bargain, but hey, then again, the designer worked their butt off to be in the position where people would PAY them to slap John Smith on their OWN design, so I guess it all is good.

Many designers of course thus take advantage of brand licensing, but isn’t there too much of a good thing? Yes, you might get excited that your favourite designer is now making sunglasses or something of that elk that you can actually afford without surviving on stale saltines for a month, but then all of a sudden, you’re seeing his products everywhere. And I mean everywhere. People of all. It’s nice when everyone can maybe afford a taste of a designer, or is it? Personally it leaves me with a bit of a rotten taste…if everyone can have it, if it’s that accessible, why do I want it?

It’s not that you don’t want people to be able to afford things. Some people save and save to buy a designer bag that they’ve coveted for years. It harkens back to being a child on the playground. You were the first one to have red sparkly Dorothy shoes, and everyone admired them. You ruled the sandbox. But soon word of where your mom got them got out, and then there were a million little Dorothys running amok. You grew bored, and looked for the pink power ranger hi-tops as your next fave thing.

This mentality has not changed much, although instead of Payless Dorothy shoes it might be Valentino, with a 5 inch taller heel. If everyone has an item, you don’t feel unique, and in this day and age, people want to stand out, make a statement, not blend in like sheep. Sometimes you can’t help but to look similar- for example, an outfit of skinny jeans and black booties and a slouchy sweater- but you certainly don’t want to spend top dollar and the exact bag that everyone and their grandmother is carrying.

You start to question, a designer who became famous for perfect fitting blue jeans, do they REALLY know about cups and bowls? About bicycles? About stationary and pens? They start to lose your trust, as you question this superhuman ability. You see the name EVERYWHERE. It’s like your favourite record or CD- eventually you get tired of hearing “hit me baby one more time”, no matter how much you loved it.

Often, the brand loses sight of their original mission, their 20/20 vision becoming as blurred as a 92 year olds. They lose focus on what made them famous. Weren’t they all about the fit of flares, not health food!? So you’ll move on, to greener, un-mowed pastures, forgetting all about your once beloved, coveted item.

Or, you just go to www.etsy.com/shop/japonicanyc to buy unique, vintage porcelain tableware that I can’t find anywhere else!

 

Next up: branding in the sense of basic; to wear it or not to wear it (because everyone else is) how to determine

 

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Branded

(Actually, this is not really an example of far-out branding, as Hermes is a sponsor AND makes top quality saddles and equestrian equipment) Hampton Classic, Bridgehampton, New York

Tuesdays Thoughts On Famous Designers Designing Different Things (all in good humor!)

Tuesday afternoon I decided to scope out the Wedgewood website. Not because I was looking to pick up some duck print fine-bone china or a pair of crystal goblets to that cost more then my car. Just idly browsing. I enjoy homewares.

The homepage displayed some nice wares, with the stamp “Vera Wang”. Underneath the block Vera was “Wedgewood”, as if we needed reminding whose page we were on, and then below that in microscopic print: England 1759. Wedgewood, an English institution, who has made china literally fit for a Queen for actual centuries. Using a famous, celebrity-like designer who creates custom wedding gowns? Sounds like an odd… marriage.

I sat there, not clicking away and switching panes, but staring at her big Times New Roman plain font. When did the human race become so gullible that they’d buy anything as long as it had some recognizable designer name on it, even if that designer did NOT gain fame in that field?

What did Vera know about china? I’ll admit, I would give an arm and a leg and maybe a few eyeballs (no, not my eyes. I love my eyes) to be able to don one of her delectable creations on my non-existent wedding.  Her gowns are top-notch; that can not be disputed.

But what does the Queen of satin and silk, tulle and lace know about crystal stemware? I’ll admit, the pairing seems ideal. A fluted Vera dress and matching flutes to toast to your nuptials might definitely appeal to a specific character, with her happily ever after fantasy and colour coordination down to her bridesmaid’s underwear.

Still, the garment industry and the tableware industry are two distinct separate industries, for good measure. Just because you can design a dress does not grant you the authority nor knowledge or ability to design a tea set. Yes, the pottery was quite pleasant, no garish prints (I mean this WAS Wedgewood), but I was still irked.

Even if you can, do you WANT a Vera Wang white porcelain sugar container, at $135 a pop? Does the bride really need to receive all her new china from someone whose name is eponymous with weddings and dresses? Weddings are fun and all, but I don’t think the marital bliss will remain simply because every time I look down at my scrambled eggs the plate boasts Vera’s name.

Just because she was good at gowns, she could just plaster her name on anything and think it would sell? That countless advisories and marketing analysts and financial consultants all agree with this mindset? I know there’s months, years that goes into getting that goblet on the go, but still, couldn’t she leave it up to the specialists, such as Wedgewood? Why did everything have to intermingle? I always felt like products as such were cheapened somehow, even though I’d never utter a word of that nature in direction of her dresses.

I’m not going to even touch in this article about the whole over-saturation of a brand name and how that can drown a company that was previously Titanic –quality in its respect.  I’ll save that for my next post.

In the meantime, for some quality, handmade, unbranded, vintage porcelain made by dinnerware artisans, head over to www.etsy.com/shop/japonicanyc !

10 Things To Distract You From Making A Purchase

 

(Go somewhere with absolutely no internet connection or stores. That island in the middle looks like a good bet, no?) Kotor, Montenegro

Do not watch American Pickers; it will only make things worse. Note: all our posts are in good humor, intended to brighten your day:)

  • Play that Neko Atsume cat game. Completely effortless, but who knew collecting kitties and feeding them could make you forget larger responsibilities like feeding your own kitties and paying the rent, let alone buying that vintage Hawaiian cat-hula girl?
  • Spend a day cleaning your parents house. By the time the day is over (read: 10 minutes) you’ll be so exhausted hearing “don’t break that” and “watch that, I got it from your great-great grandmother Edie, she drank from that Coke bottle on her first date with your uncle Benny” that you’ll vow you’ll never put your own kids through having to do this with your junk
  • Look at your best friend’s photos of her recent sojourn to Europe. When was your last trip? That boozy resort in Jamaica that you never ventured off the property, and could have been in Florida for all you knew? Right. Get that jar out and put the money in it- the antique dog house can wait (you don’t even own a dog). Woof.
  • Watch Hoarders. You’ll be so repulsed by the overflowing stacks of moldy newspapers that are breeding bugs you didn’t even know existed, that the thought of purchasing some old mans entire library will seem off-putting.
  • Buy a bottle of rakija (for those who don’t know it, it’s a grape based drink of the Balkans that tastes like licorice.) You mix it with water and sip it slowly, consuming nuts or seeds on the side.  After a few, (consumed quickly), that collection of Steiff bears from 1912 that supposedly survived the Titanic will survive not having a voyage to your house.
  • Go mountain climbing. No need to purchase those wannabe Spice Girl spangled platforms when you’re on crutches for four weeks (you knew flip flops do not constitute as hiking boots!)
  • Browse through the junk mail. Find the charity invitations. Read the stories, and decide you have more noble places to spend your money (Giving is good!) These lovely causes actually deserve your money, not some dude selling handmade Jack Daniels wind chimes in Tennessee. He probably consumed them all himself.
  • Hire a housecleaner, and eavesdrop. You’ll be so ashamed listening to their remarks on “does he have enough junk?” as she dusts your 80’s matchbox car collection that you’ll instantly want to live like a monk and eschew all physical property in life.
  • Read a blog. One about travelers who bask on beautiful beaches, only owning a backpack, and become so immersed in the idea that you begin selling off your collections, forgetting all about buying you 299th Iive.laugh.love plaque.
  • Go on Etsy, just to browse, as your sister holds your credit card, realize that you can’t, absolutely can not resist that lamp that looks like the burlesque leg lamp in that funny cult movie “A Christmas story”, arm wrestle the card out of her (weak) grip…

….And realize that shopping for goodies is fun, and you can’t go without it! Shop for vintage porcelain and presents on http://www.etsy.com/shops/Japonicanyc

HoliDAZE (The Relay Race Of Gift Giving)

(No rushing the holidays in Czech Republic- this photo shows Christmas stands bustling with business a week after the big day) Prague, Czech Republic

 

(Am I getting the lineup of the holidays confused? Always with a touch of humor)

I’m cutting straight to the point. Mothers day blog posts. In February. February (in New York at least) is known for being the most miserable, darkest, coldest months of the year (usually). Blizzards that bring snow that doesn’t melt and sits in heaps taller then an NBA player. Wait, isn’t the next commercial holiday up Easter? I am so confused.

No where wading through this mess of snow, sappy V-Day cards and shoe-destroying salt am I thinking of warm weather, flowers (well, in my commuting fantasies, but not concrete) and …mother’s day. Worse, my heartbeat starts racing (and not from the two coffees I already consumed), but from the prices…are people really falling for it, and buying mom a $200 candle? That;s my health insurance for a month- and I don’t know if I want to tempt fate just so mom can smell gardenias for the 50 hour “burn time”.

Doesn’t mothers day fall somewhere (I just had to look this up, proving I’m a dreadful daughter) around May 8th? Yes, May. You know the ditty “April showers bring May flowers”? I’m still bundled up in my long super warm shearling coat here. And I’m already fielding my way through posts about personalised gift bags and handmade cards made by nuns and other things about what to get the woman who always says she wants nothing, raises her voice like an opera singer the thought of having to give a gift?

The word holiday is used in Britain the same way we use the word vacation. A vacation implies(ha ha ha) a time of peace, relaxation, celebration, enjoyment, happiness. So why does the word holiday in America bring so much stress? Impatience.

As Americans, we are an impatient people. We get our coffee on the go, eat lunch standing in the pizza shop, buy have drive through weddings with an Elvis priest. Why does our impatience have to spill over to holidays?  Whatever happened to the E.B White quote “never hurry, never worry?” As soon as one holiday is over, stores rip down the displays as if some secret holiday police were going around handing out fines for keeping the marshmallow peeps out an extra day (I personally would eat them all year). As a child I used to get melancholy in mid January, begging one more week for our Tannenbaum to stay put (foot was put down on that dream, with the threat that my toys go up in flames, dry needles and all).

As soon as one is over, we have to be assaulted- visually (tacky bright displays) , aurally (Christmas songs by some horrible pop singer instead of Sinatra), even orally ( I can even taste the Halloween candy when I walk near it, the mass of sugary treats wafting through the plastic like some radioactive toxin). Can’t we have a few moments rest to see what we really need in Duane Reade like breath mints and Tide (who goes in there to buy heart chocolates and stuffed bears anyways?)?

We need to learn to relax. Life is too short for this constant rushing. Take each holiday as they come- maybe a month before the actual date. Search for a gift, but not with the rabid aggression of a childs maiden version to DisneyWorld. Buy what you can afford, not something you’ll spend three months paying off, for the friend you see only once a year (begrudgingly).  Enjoy what we are celebrating, as it comes, not raise our blood pressure levels fretting over the Frette bathrobe or the discount one at Bed Bath & Beyond months before it will be given.

Being in the marketing/selling world, I am not advocating to stop gift giving. I have a degree in merchandising; I hope I understand the monetary value that holidays bring. What I am advocating is, enjoy the day. Get mom that gift, but enjoy the day with her. Lavishing her with some “curated all natural local farm produced handpicked hand mashed gluten free face wash” bag is nice and all, but it doesn’t make up for being a terrible daughter who doesn’t see her 8 months out of the year and groans and at the thought of listening to her anecdotes about her dogs.

When the end of April rolls around, maybe I’ll take a journey out east and see my mom that weekend, IF the weather is warm and sunny. Or, I’l just send her flowers. Or buy her some porcelain at http://www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc.  Either way, at the end of the day, she knows I love her.