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

 

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 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!

Pickin’ My Brain About American Pickers

(Now, if Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz found something like this, I’d totally go for it…) Hamptons Art Fair, Bridgehampton, New York

Why do we pick to watch what we watch? (All in good humor)

As we all know, when you turn on a TV, practically every channel boasts some reality TV. It’s not just MTV and the Real World, with college kids chugging beers (I don’t know actually, never watched it).  Now, there is a show for everyone- Real Deal for the Wall Street wonders, Iron Chef for those of us who don’t actually set the kitchen on fire, Catfish for those of us who can emote with relatable online dating horror stories, and American Pickers for those who like old stuff. Two friends who travel far and wide, taking that old bowl you were using as an ashtray and declaring it belonged to Napoleon (you know, Bonaparte). The show gets quite the views, but why? Why do we set out (with our ultra American array of snacks) to watch two dudes sift through old tires and trash? Hey, didn’t I just do that the other day at my grandmas? People get paid to do this- and we watch? Here’s why.

It Appeal to our American Columbus-like motives of exploring,but from the comfort of your LaZ-Boy. Go on any dating site, and everyone says “they love to travel/ want to travel/live in a suitcase” etc. The reality is, most people don’t travel further then the McDonalds 15 minutes away (which, in suburbia, is supposedly a bit far to travel for one?) Like (some) of our ancestors, who may have braved the scary dark bowls of a boat across the Atlantic to settle in unknown wilderness, the show appeals to the inner explorer in all of us. Discovering new things, setting out into the unknown…it’s like being a kid with a treasure map.

Speaking of being a kid with a treasure map, it’s not just the act of exploration and setting off on an adventure, but about finding something magnificent. Like Indiana Jones, the idea of pulling some ancient rare artifact from the fiery pit of doom definitely appeals to the greed in us. Even if you aren’t a fan of antiques and old stuff, there is a thrill of finding some beautiful (and expensive) item amidst all of that garbage. And Mike and Fritz are childhood friends, adding to the sweet little scenario of you and your best friend/ next door neighbor digging for gold in his mother’s prize winning petunias until she screamed like Carmela Soprano.

Sense of nostalgia. There are many explanations why we enjoy seeing them unearth tin cafeteria trays that look like our old high schools, even if those trays carried the most questionable lunch meat ever. We like to think of the “good ol’ days”, even if the good ol’ days involved having to run away from Buster Harrison every time you saw him in the hallway.  The American Pickers reality tv show provides 30 minutes of a visual trip down memory lane, just without the hours spent waiting by the phone (landline) and 24 hour Duane Reades.

Instant gratification, without having to do the work, just view it on a screen. Perhaps due to technology, (or where you are raised; I know for a fact that people from Michigan are a lot less impatient waiting those two long minutes for their bacon egg and cheese then I am) we have become increasingly impatient, wanting everything as fast as a Tinder swipe (left, duh). The American Pickers provide this.

The reality is, for every platinum ballerina they find, they find a million pieces of brass and spend days trekking across the country, living off gas station donuts and sifting through some practically blind woman’s claim that she had George Washington’s wig, whereas in reality it was just her husband’s toupee (he pulled it off pretty well, sorry for the pun). But we don’t have to witness that headache, just see them move a few items, and presto! Antique hairdryer.

We all love a bargain. For as much as we want to post “popping bottles” on Instagram, we cringe the next day when we wake up and log onto our bank accounts. As much as people like to pretend money is not option, the inner pushcart haggler in al of us love a good bargain. A penny saved is a penny served you know. So when we see the guys score a vintage scuba outfit for 5$, our inner mother in us (remember when she wouldn’t spend the extra $10 for the light up sneakers? We’re still mad) cheers.

So inspiring is the show, that we feel the urge to actually get up and go see if any old folk nearby need some help cleaning….oh wait, cleaning? Maybe….Shop www.etsy.com/shops/japonicanyc for porcelain tableware and trinkets just like the pickers might find!