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When Tracksmith dropped its new ad last month, it sent the direct-to-consumer world in a minor frenzy. Tracksmith is a running brand, founded seven years ago around a particular aesthetic of 1970s long distance runners. More than that, Tracksmith is created in honor of the Amateur Spirit.

In its own words, the brand champions the Running Class, “the non-professional yet competitive runners dedicated to the pursuit of personal excellence.” Transport the sentiment to streetwear, watches, luxury fashion or any form of collaboration between them, and one would be hard pressed to miss an amateur changing the rules of the game. Teddy Santis, Dapper Dan, Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Raf Simons or Hedi Slimane are all fashion amateurs. Simons studied furniture and industrial design. Lotta Volkova, largely credited for Vetements and Balenciaga’s look, is a fashion stylist. West’s background is in music. Self-taught artist Helen Downie, a.k.a. The Unskilled Worker, is synonymous with a good part of Gucci’s aesthetic. …


Seducing a changed consumer

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Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2020/21 show (above) on March 3rd was the ultimate fashion fantasy. Chanel shows always are. They recreate a mountain vista, an oceanfront, a rainforest, the Parisian rooftops and are usually thought of as a pinnacle of an industry made of, and for, dreams.

Forward a couple of weeks ahead, and the reality became so dire that our dreams revolve around living “normally.”

Escapism is out, reality is in.

The unreality of 2020 changed the fashion flex. A head-to-toe designer-dressed influencer posing in an exotic location feels sorely out of place and out of different time. With socializing still mostly under the radar, people directed their taste flex elsewhere: to their exercise routines, cooking mastery, gardening skills, podcasts, newsletters, Instagram gift guides, Spotify’s 2020 Wrapped playlists. …


What new ways of showing off mean for the consumer market

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Flex commerce \ˈfleks \ ˈkä-(ˌ)mərs is demonstration of one’s taste, wokeness and cultural savvy through their spending.

Flex commerce is like having a giant dog in NYC. It’s a flex that one has an apartment big enough for a mastiff.

The purpose of flex commerce is to establish one’s status as distinct and superior to others. Unlike other forms of commerce, it’s unrelated to the cost of goods and services, but to their intangible, symbolic value. In flex commerce, price is secondary. …


How brands fare on the four criteria

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Last week, I wrote about the signals to look for when predicting a brand’s success. This is the second part of that analysis, and includes evaluation of a sample of brands according to the set of 12 criteria grouped into four segment (culture, consumer, category, and company).

Culture refers to the emerging social, cultural and political values; it also refers to definition of the core social terms (e.g. influence, community, taste, equality, aspiration); mood, attention and vocabulary. E.g. early on, Glossier mastered the language of modern culture: BFF, intimate, personal, direct. The brand behavior reflected how modern culture socializes.

Consumer refers to how well a company can define and understand who its consumer is and the context they make decisions; what they pay attention to and what they spend money on; what they value and expect from the world and each other. E.g. Looking at taste communities is here more important than zooming in on the individual. …


How to detect winners early on

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A few weeks ago, Tayler Haney, the founder of Outdoor Voices, opened up about the things she learned. By now, these sort of confessionals have become a business genre that has more to do with specific VC-powered growth dynamics than with the founders themselves. The high failure rate and mediocre median returns of this growth dynamic ask for a new approach in decoding the signals of a company’s potential.

In this new approach, a rapid short-term success is a fake signal of a company’s long-term value and cultural relevance. …


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Heron Preston’s collaboration with oral care brand MOON sounds like something out of MSCHF factory. Known for its purposefully absurd and random viral stunts, MSCHF is the creator of Nike sneakers filled with Holy Water, toaster-shaped bath bombs, and an app making stock investments based on astrological signs.

While it certainly wouldn’t look out of place next to the squeaky chicken bong popularized by the “factory”, the limited edition stain removal whitening toothpaste in fact dropped on StockX on October 27th. …


Floragarten 13, Acne Studios headquarters photographed by Philippe Chancel
Floragarten 13, Acne Studios headquarters photographed by Philippe Chancel

There’s no mistaking an Acne Studios store for any other. Regardless of whether you’re in London, Stockholm, New York, or Tokyo, Acne Studios stores are stages, with carefully considered lighting, layout, ambiance, furniture, art, and a cherry-picked cast of shop associates.

“Artists, architects, and furniture designers have always been part of Acne Studios’ DNA,” says Dan Thawley, Editor-in-Chief at A Magazine Curated By, a fashion publication which has worked with some of the world’s most innovative fashion designers — including Martin Margiela, Kim Jones, and Thom Browne — as guest curators. When Thawley originally pitched his idea to create a magazine titled ‘Floragatan 13 Curated by Acne Studios’ (Floragatan 13 being the address of Acne Studios’ new headquarters, situated in the former Embassy of the Czech Republic) to Acne Studios in 2019, Thawley was inspired by the strong physical presence that Acne Studios always had, as well as the opportunity for a deep editorial dive into the brand’s beliefs, ethos and curated aesthetics. …


Aspiration increasingly means different things to different people

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The other weekend, in his Faster Lane weekly Monocle address, Tyler Brûlé generously offered a few “pointers” for “soldering through” the new lockdown. Brûlé’s pointers all sounded very privileged, but the one that stood out was to “start a grand project.” It involved suggestions to buy a house, build a little hut or commission a new-build boat. “These are good days for side projects,” was the author’s conclusion.

No doubt, some Monocle readers took these ideas to heart. Brûlé has, after all, been a taste-maker and an über-connoisseur for decades and he earned his stripes. Similarly, a business management consultant recently proclaimed in British Vogue that, once the pandemic is over, everybody will be buying more sustainably and responsibly. …

About

Ana Andjelic

Strategy Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Forbes’ one of The World’s Most Influential CMOs.

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