We’re seeing a resurgence of American-made big brands, and we love it
Blue-chip brands are losing relevance. Heritage brands are stale. Luxury conglomerates are out of touch. These are the blanket statements of a young, activated consumer market; and in many ways, they’re true. Thanks to the rise of social media and an increasingly discerning market, American is smack dab in the middle of a retailpocalypse. Brick and mortars are closing at a rapid pace, the online market is becoming oversaturated, and consumers are looking towards brands to offer an experience beyond the traditional ad-sales model.
Transcending the transaction and making retail experiential has been a challenge for many companies. In addition, the modern consumer expects more and more for big brands to not only be plugged in, but to be socially, politically, and sustainably mindful. Despite this knowledge, there is still a significant lack of involvement, and in turn, a lack of customer engagement resulting in struggling sales. But whatever the influencing factor – money or an earnest interest in improving the fashion industry – these sleeping giants are waking up. A push for transparency and activism has seemingly influenced American megabrands to harness the energy of young designers and established creatives to get involved.
Converse has enlisted the help of designer JW Anderson (of Loewe and his eponymous label) to bring a fresh perspective to the brand. “I want people to feel that they are part of a global picture and not just a kid on the runway,” the designer told Business of fashion earlier this month of the partnership. “I keep perceiving myself to be young, but the more I do, I realize [the brand] is a part of a global picture. A fashion show is a very tiny part of the content. This was the best way to say that’s ‘done’ for me.” The designer sees the collaboration as an opportunity for global recognition, while Converse hopes to inject a youthful relevance into their heritage Chuck Taylor styles.
Such is the case for the (hopeful) revival of Coach; the brand’s new creative director, Stuart Vevers, is tapping into the power of ever insta-present, Selena Gomez. Gomez’s record-breaking following of 122 million (on Instagram alone) is owed in part to her image of accessibility and engagement with her fan base. To put it simply, she keeps it real. This inclusivity is what the new consumer market is all about. New media will inform the campaign’s rollout, with a very BTS take on a very high-fashion shoot. Gomez will release sneak peeks via Snapchat and Insta stories in hopes to raise brand awareness with the millennial consumer. Many are asking ‘is Coach cool again?’ We’re not sure yet. They certainly have their finger on the pulse of things.
This resurgence of American companies isn’t just about big brands cashing in on followers; many are making genuine efforts to involve themselves in social activism. Gap’s new marketing campaign does just that with a catchy video of models from varied backgrounds dancing and singing to Bobby Hebb’s ‘Sunny.’ Dubbed “Bridging the Gap,” the video directed by Edward Enninful (fashion veteran, BFF of Naomi Campbell and soon-to-be EIC of British Vogue) represents the positive spirit of America and inclusivity of Gap’s signature blue jeans and t-shirt. It’s punchy, fun, and brings together a refreshingly diverse cast of characters. Gap’s upfront campaign should be a leading example to others.
In an age of democratized fashion, it’s up to anyone to enact change and influence a shift in industry practices. In a country that needs it desperately (cc: our xenophobic President), we’re happy to say it’s finally happening at home.