Quality Without Style

Ifound 2 articles in this week’s New York Times particularly telling aboutthe ever-changing world around us. The first article called “What’sWrong with Vogue?” questions Anna Wintour’s formula forsuccess; popular stars on the cover, fashion fantasies (with clothing thatcosts more than your average car) photographed by cutting-edge photographers,and lots of luxury brand advertising. The problem is that their audience hasbecome bored or even worse, immuned/non-responsive to the formula that has beensuccessful since the 1980s.

Onthe opposite end of the spectrum is MAC, a clothing store that is constantlyreadapting to stay fresh, written about in “DressWorldly, Spend Locally.” They have figured out that the public hasreached their capacity for consumption and want only well made objects without stylethat will last them a lifetime. All their products, which range from literatureto fashion, are made by lesser-known designers and artists. This past seasonthey focused on items that were made by local artists within 100 miles of thestore’s location (which reminds me of our friends’ regular eventsat pinkcomma).

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Itis easy to blame the collapsed economy on the new consumer shift, but I thinkwe are seeing a rejection of too much consumption (we have eaten too many foiegras!), a green movement really hitting mainstream (who wants to flip through amagazine printed on crappy paper?), and the ever-reducing options for locallyowned boutiques (how many J. Crew’s do we really need?).

It’sclear by reading these 2 articles that anyone in business always has to work onstaying fresh. While it is true that the collapsed economy is everyone’sexcuse to redefine their industry, consistently adapting to changing times willwin over reinventing one’s image. Poor Anna, what will she do?

Mimi

One thought on “Quality Without Style

  1. This reminds me of a recent report by the Pew Research center in which the general trends towards luxury v. necessity are measured. It’s interesting to note what wasn’t there ten years ago (cell phones, ipods, high-speed internet and a flat screen tv), but also interesting to note what isn’t—i.e. how important the name of the brand is vs. the quality of craft; how many records you have rebought as CD’s/downloads; how much square footage you need to live in. I’ve been having this conversation for a few months with my local barkeep, and I, for one, long for the subtle beauty of not having over the anxiety of must-own products/services/distractions. Repost can be found here:http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/323/luxury-or-necessity

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