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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To Etsy or Not To Etsy?

(Heard it from the grapevine you can buy vintage goods on Etsy- not just googly eyes and pink furry construction paper) New York, New York

Etsy. We all know Etsy- or at least I thought we did. In polling some people I know, I discovered that 90% of them thought it was simply arts and crafts. Yes, some of the people I asked were professional men, but hey, they’re the ones more unlikely to know, so I was curious in their responses. One remarked that the stock was something I won’t repeat on here.

Arts and crafts?! I frowned. Etsy has such a wide range of products too, I was actually upset to hear that people condemned it as a place for old ladies who have nothing better to do but knit sweaters for their pugs, or moms who are stuck at home all day with three sugar crazed kids. There’s vintage clothes, there’s lovely soaps and useful home products like tables. Tables made by men ! And sold by men too. Fancy that!

What do you shop on Etsy for? There is such a variety of goods, sometimes I don’t even know where to start.

Crafting supplies?

Birthday celebration supplies?

Gifts for a range of celebrations?

Personal gifts?

Home décor?

Home improvement?

Cooking supplies

Clothing?

One of a kind products?

Holiday décor?

Pet supplies?

Vintage collectibles?

Odds and ends?

Beauty Supplies?

I could go on and on. If you can think it up, if it does exist, it exists on Etsy.

Post your replies, or go shop www.etsy.com/shop/japonicanyc for vintage porcelain goods that aren’t cardboard craft paper!

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 !

Exposing Your (Creative) Bones

(Don’t flat out refuse like this cowboy) New York, New York

Friday musings about being torn between the reluctance to share and desire to protect.

Exposing Your (Creative)Bones

In college, I took an intro to entrepreneurship class. We were required to present a business idea to the class. I, always brimming with ideas (usually as a result of my own frustration with some aspect of daily life), piped up.

“What if someone steals it?”

My professor didn’t miss a beat, even though he often would pause before speaking.

“You will be doing yourself a disservice. Keeping it to yourself will not prevent anything. It is your idea, your passion. Other people may listen, and like the idea, and yes, they could take it and run with it, but it burns brightly within you, with a fire that they do not possess. If you truly believe in it, and work for it,  it will belong to you.”

(I am paraphrasing this, as my memory has not improved with age, fancy that!)

I pondered this. Did I want to divulge my (what I thought brilliant idea) to a group of young eager students all dying to make money?

Reluctantly, I took his advice. Some of their eyes brightened, a few less had a bone to pick, thus of course driving me crazy, and he himself enjoyed it, but had some reservations, as he did with most of the others too. And that’s when I realized.

You need feedback. Secrecy does one no favours when it comes to developing an idea- we humans are not meant to operate alone; most mammals live in packs or groups. Scores of great things never would have been built/achieved/discovered if it hadn’t been for teamwork.

You need a fresh outlook, a different perspective other then your own. When you love something, often you are too close to it to see the imperfections. You overlook the flaws and focus on the favoured.

With the age of technology and social media, a lot of artists put their work out there. I often ponder this with my own Instagram account- I want people to see and like them, but at the same time, with all of the re-posting that goes on, I am so afraid of someone taking credit for my heart and soul as their own.

Yes, there are selfish people, who are in higher positions and may use the ideas of those less powerful, to spin them into something better, or blatantly copy for higher gain. This is a risk, but unfortunately this can’t always be avoided. A creative idea is almost like a child- you give birth to it, you love it; it’s your creation. The pain of having it stolen away is unbearable. Fight for it back; you can’t let them win.

So, do we shield our ideas from view? If you hide, no one will ever know you are any good, and you will most definitely never get discovered. The written word is especially hard- someone may not copy every line, but steal fragments here and there that sound suitable. But, if no  one ever reads your work, no one will definitely ever want to then read your work.

What do you think? Are you hesitant to expose your ideas, bare your creative being? Not for fear of ridicule, but because it will no longer be yours if it is out there? Or are you all for sharing, growing, editing- confident in the fact that it will remain yours?

10 Ways To Justify A Purchase

(This was over the course of a year, I swear! Or was that 365 minutes?) Brooklyn, New York

The things that you try to tell people when you know you shouldn’t have bought something (All in good humor)

10 Reasons You Justify A Purchase

  1. Time. “I’ll have this replica of Big Ben until my children’s children’s cousin’s ex-wife has children! The test of time….”
  2. Quality. “But…its four ply cashemere, the other sweater was see-through…”
  3. “It’s $3 off of $150 for this vial of sand from Egypt! You know it’ll never go lower then this!”
  4. “In HomeGoods they were $40, but this cute little old lady in Missouri is selling it for $4. You know replica flowered milkcans, theres a lot of details in those flowers….”
  5. Can’t Find it Anywhere Else. “Where else can I find a pair of earrings consisting of a frying pan and a slice of toast with eyes? Sold!”
  6. Aspirational Shopping. “I know, I know, I am a size six and these are a zero from 1996; but I went jogging for ten minutes with Jen the other day….”
  7. Once In A lifetime opportunity! “They never carry vacuum cleaners in pink- who wants boring gray?”
  8. It’ll go perfectly with…. “Those green burlesque Betsey Johnson pumps I picked up at her Hamptons yard sale five years ago!” and never wore.
  9. One of A Kind Item. “I’ve never seen a kitty litter box that the cat has to jump into before….mess free! Must buy”
  10. I’m Indulging My Whims. “Oh, I got a C on that assignment the other day, I definitely deserve this antique Moroccan kohl container…. Oh c’mon! It was statistics!”

 

So you go on https://www.etsy.com/shop/JaponicaNYC and shop for vintage porcelain items until your hearts content….

3 Stores For The Rest Of Your Life

(Then again, a french supermarket might be a good idea, as you’d never lack for sweets…how DO they stay so slim?!) Paris, France

If you could only shop at 3 businesses for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is, shop for EVERYTHING. Food, clothes, makeup, hardware, technology, EVERYTHING !

We humans love to choose our “favourites”. Favourite food? Favourite television show when you were seven? Favourite shade of white to use for a wedding dress? No matter how trivial, we like to declare our personal favourites.

I’ll start off with mine:

  • Any of the huge European general stores/hypermarkets. Carrefour, etc.  Like a Wal-Mart (which I refuse to step into or support), but way better quality products. Food, toiletries, you name it….
  • Bloomingdales. What can I say, they carry everything you could possibly need to outfit yourself for any situation, casual or formal.
  • Apple. Because unfortunately my two other options don’t carry technology products. Maybe I should say some other technology store that as more variety, in case I want other things? Ok, I was a weak one with this choice.

But then again, there’s also Etsy….where you can buy clothes, collectibles, craft kits to entertain you forever…and vintage porcelain at www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc

Nostalgia & Quality

(I think the graffiti only adds to the character, don’t you?) Bushwick, Brooklyn New York

Monday morning musings about the tie between nostalgia and the quality of products

“Antique-design table”. “Retro hand-mirror”. “Converted radio flyer planter”. Every which way you turn, something harkens to days past, when it may in fact be brand new.  Nostalgia for days gone by, your younger years, has always been present. However, I feel more and more, in pop articles and articles generated by the bunch, that people are yearning for yesteryear. Why does this seem more prevalanet? Times were always simpler, inventions and such have always existed.

This is a topic that has been long debated, and I won’t profess to having any answer. However, in terms of nostalgia pertaining to home products, this is a lot easier to pin down.

Quality is the key word to this nostalgia for old products, buildings and designs. As I walk along Fulton Street in Brooklyn, I see so many old brownstones being gutted, just empty shells standing, while other less desirable structures are merely bulldozed and new, generic, bland looking buildings are erected in what feels like mere minutes. No decorative detailing, and everything looks eerily temporary, despite the steel beams and cement.

Technology, although wonderful with all we can accomplish, has made the process of mass production possible. The more of something that exists, the less desirable it becomes, as it is not rare, unique. We humans seem to crave uniqueness, why, maybe because we have less and less to worry about. “Too much of a good thing” is perhaps true. If you were to all of a sudden possess 300 Sailor Moon Sculptures, the original would immediately lose its value, its prestige, when before it was as rare as the “Heart of The Ocean” (diamond necklace from Titanic, duh!)

When something is handmade now, we see it as a gift from the heart, something special, something that will ultimately cost more money because it took much more time and skill to produce.  It is something unique, as no mold is being used, no two products can be completely identical.

As time goes by and the technology is honed and perfected, it somehow makes products less and less respectable, despite often improving certain aspects about them. New materials and ways of using old ones to maximize profit and minimize costs are being produced. For example, polyester is cheap, and man-made, and although can imitate silk, it does not hold a candle to the quality of silk, no matter how nice the drape is.

The items hailed from simpler times, when the current worries of the modern world did not exist, or were just a far off future issue that were not actively on our minds. With worrying about whether your Instagram post was filtered enough or if the Starbucks new drink is going to have too many calories, it is nice to rest your eyes on something from a time where you had to wait by the landline phone to hear back from someone and milk cost 10 cents, not 8$ at WholeFoods. Sub-conciously, they sooth us.

Maybe when all of the similar looking brownstones were developed, people felt the same way about them .”Oh look, another 3-window façade with a flowered scroll etched in the cement above them. Not again!” Just because we see NOW that they were quite beautiful structures, doesn’t mean that when they were new, people thought the same thing.

Perhaps it takes a lot of time to pass to realize what we had, to adjust, to accept, to realize that something is not all that bad. Maybe sixty years from now we’ll think that that clothes from Forever21 are something to clamor for, but in the meantime….. I’ll just shop for vintage porcelain dinnerware and other cute vintage items on www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc

10 Reasons You Shop Online

(When waiting online, you sometimes feel like the lion, but mostly feel like the seal) Sagg Town Coffee, Sag Harbor, New York

These may seem obvious, but gone are the days where you will wait online behind an old man counting out his dimes while you count the minutes that your boss is going to spend screaming at you for being late again, despite the fact that said line is for the brand of coffee he insists of having in the office (and having the employees pay for).

  1. There’s no people. Who knew you were such a hermit? Sitting the in the confines of your house/car/cubicle, you are blissfully separated from the haggling moms and their perpetually runny nosed kids.
  2. You can do it wherever, whenever-kinda like the Shakira song. Without all the belly dancing and stuff, although you did always think that looked pretty cool….
  3. There’s no salespeople. No “Oh my god, red is so your colour!” When red in fact washes you out and somehow clashes horribly with blonde hair/blue eyes. What does she wearing the blue eyeshadow know anyways?
  4. You can actually think, no peer pressure. For some reason, and you know you’ve been there, I always feel pressured to buy something, even if it is a pair of trendy overalls that make me look more like a roly-poly Minion then a model.
  5. You can get deep discounts. Forget the 80% off signs they place every two feet in the stores. They sold out of your size two months ago. Online is where the real bargains pile up- literally; you missed a potential job interview because ‘We Want You!’ Was the slogan of a million other junk brand emails trying to get you through the door.
  6. No dealing with shopping bags and a commute/ or traffic. You haven’t lived yet until you’re wearing a fur coat on an unexpected 60-degree day while trying to hoist an extra large printer over the tourists heads and cursing the fact that a one-train ride became a three-train (damn Weekender service). For those lucky enough to drive, do I even need to touch on the traffic?
  7. More options. In the store they have two colours, online they have twenty. Who wants brown or orange anyways? Don’t they know that in New York you wear black, off black, and jet black?
  8. Can actually make educated decisions; price comparisons. Unless you are the Queen of England and have all of the time in the world (actually, she probably has quite the social schedule for an older lady, more so then you- when was the last time you had girls brunch!? Yeaaaah), you don’t have time to go to each store and then muse over which deal was best. Online, all of that comparison is a click and pane switch away.
  9. You can take care of your dogs/cats/babies/spouse. Because strapping a screaming child into a car seat, or trying to convince your daschund that the mannequin in the hideous pizza print dress is not going to eat him, can get strenuous. At home, you can shop more efficiently, although you’ll still have to shove your (overweight) cat off your keyboard. Why they insist on perching themselves on top of the most uncomfortable places, you have no idea.
  10. You can multitask. Time efficiency! Eat pita chips, drink a bottle of merlot, watch re-runs of Law & Order SVU, chat to your friend about next new years plans (it’s March)…whatever it is that you have on that laundry list to do, you can do so and still navigate the world wide web to make your purchases. Who can say no?

Visit www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc to shop online for vintage porcelain and other gifts to your hearts content!

But I Totally Could Have Made That…

 

(All this takes is some yard sale finds and some glue…) Armory Shows, New York, New York

Short musings of art and peoples perception

But..I could make that! You think, shaking your head and muttering at the last art fair you attended. Sometimes, it just seems so absurd. A bunch of Instagram-like party shots of wasted 22 year olds going for thousands of dollars. Maybe I should try to frame mine and give it a go, you think, swirling your non-alcoholic beverage straw. Next up, a bunch of ….whirring Evian bottles?! Has the world gone mad? This looks like a ten year old boy-genius science project.

Yes, I’m sure you can tie a motor to an Evian bottle and call it a day.

But would you? You haven’t yet, have you? Maybe that’s the difference. Some people are more impulsive then others, and whether or not it is easy as pie or as detailed as a Rubens is not, in fact, the important factor. The factor is the act, deciding to make the move.

It’s true that maybe not a lot of thought goes into a plain navy blue canvas that has a smiley face stuck in the top corner.

When I was five I definitely could have painted a canvas blue and stuck a sticker on the top, albeit the brush strokes would not have had that distinct pattern, and …wait. Now suddenly something that seemed so simple, is actually not.

Whether it is simple or not, I feel that the main purpose of art, when it boils down to it, is not simply just decoration, or to add beauty or colour to a room, but to elicit some sort of emotion. Whether it is surprise, disgust, delight, . Art can make you pensive, it can make you incredulous. It just has to make you think something.

It is a conversation starter. The best kind of first date is actually at a museum- and you can learn a lot about someone from what they have to say about art, whether they appreciate it or not.

It can improve our mood. Looking at a mural of kitties definitely would brighten my day.

It can add beauty, colour, life, to an otherwise dull room. Personally, my mood plummets if I am in a bland, ugly space, and I would think that applies to most humans.

Another world to enter when yours is not to your liking. Getting lost in a wildflower field is much preferable to a windowless cubicle.

It can provoke inspiring thoughts and ideas. Your mind opens up while observing, almost like you are the artist. What would you change?

I myself am a fan on Monet and Renoir, the beautiful detailed yet abstract mixture of colours, the soothing scenes that I feel I can enter. I like the precise detail of a Rubens, the mood of Vermeer. I like things that are realistic, that blatantly take hours to produce. Time is money, precious, you can’t buy it. But it doesn’t mean that something that doesn’t take 4 years to produce can’t be just as appealing, does it?

That being said, there is something appealing about modern art, the art that we are referring to, a bunch of geometric triangles suspended from a fish hook. Each piece is for a different setting.

An office, a restaurant, a theatre lobby, a private school, over my toilet, my living room fireplace, a subway passage, a hotel room. Certainly the bronzed poop emoji statue I saw the other day would be much more appropriate at a comedy club then a bunch of Cezanne grapes.

A time and a place for everything.

So yes, I could have ripped that Persian rug that I stapled to a board, but I haven’t. And it would look pretty damn cool, simple or not.  Does everything have to be so detailed, extravagant? Sometimes life simplified is all we need. Soothing. To the point. Direct. Like an all white room. Zen. See? I’m feeling relaxed just writing about it, I can’t even construct a proper full sentence. Buy vintage porcelain pieces and other unique items on www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc

Top 10 Things That Cross Your Mind Shopping on Etsy

(yes, I think somewhere in my pink tool kit I have all I need to repair this dolly…Sold!)

Sag Harbor, New York

You decide to check out Etsy, the rabbit hole of all things crafty, creative, and dust collecting. The 10 thoughts that run through your overwhelmed noggin, from start to finish… 

  1. I could make that. I mean, seriously? I took Home Ec. How hard is it to whip up a stuffed tomato with googly eyes? Or a King Tut the 3rd plushie? Yeah, I definitely can do that King Tut…wait is that CROSSTITCH?
  1. Who needs a resin Wizard of Oz Plate that plays music? I mean really, I’ve been sneaking plates OUT of grandmas house every time I go to visit, I don’t need to ADD to her collection (of 5,000). Last time I bumped into one, she spent an hour sobbing and telling me I’ll never be dainty enough to find a husband.
  1. Where am I going to put all of this ? Of course I’d love a lifesize shiba inu statue, but shouldn’t I be using that space to store my air conditioner, so I don’t have to go to bed each night dressed in an old fur coat and a scarf to combat the breeze (never took it out of the window in the fall)?
  1. My mom can do so much better. I mean, her cheesecake is the best on Long Island. Why would I buy someone elses secret recipe? What a sell-out. I mean, what if one of my friends buys it? I won’t be the stand-out baker at our next (non-existant) potluck.
  1. Wow, Jim really has a lot of time on his hands! I mean, it takes some skill to make old knives and forks really look like a roadrunner…oh, I see here it took 20 hours…20 hours?!
  1. Craft supplies galore- I can be the crafty mom now! Oh wait…I forgot to have kids. Crafty aunt? My sisters going through a divorce. Crafty babysitter? No one I know has kids. Darn! Ok, I’ll just pretend I AM still a kid.
  1. OMG, I can do all of my gift giving. For that uncle I can never remember the name of who plays checkers 20 hours a day, and my cousin who no longer bothers to pretend we are related, and to that frenemy Leila who is always making nasty remarks about the gift cards I give to starbucks. Maybe I like being basic. Well, Basic begone!
  1. I need to freeze my credit cards. Otherwise, the vintage Dolce and Gabbana denim jacket? Mine. I don’t care if I can’t pay my Metrocard and have to walk to work. Don’t I want to fit into the itsy bitsy teeny weenie bikini that supposedly Brigitte Bardot wore (according to Jo Anne Smith, 43, Louisiana, homemaker and storyteller extrodinaire)? The A train is so passe.
  1. Now my dog and I can match- look at these owner/pet cat ear headbands! Wait, dog? Whatever, me and my future dog (down the line when I move out to the suburbs and raise a family…aka never) Sold!
  1. Wait…I do need that! So I give in and buy everything and spend a week in sitting on boxes and trying to find my computer to SOS for help. Visit etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc to buy vintage porcelain dinnerware and other treasures. Shop to your hearts content!