Can One Have a True Relationship with a Brand?
A commenter in yesterday’s Let’s Talk About It brought up a really interesting point: where the article mused on finding comfort in an exclusive relationship with a single brand, this reader posed an argument that there can’t really be a relationship without reciprocation on the designer’s end. Instead, she suggests that with big brands and fashion franchises, the relationship is much more like a sports team we venerate than a two-way street.
Is this the case? I very respectfully beg to differ; allow me to play devil’s advocate to her point:
I understand what she is saying, but as a woman who devotes allegiance to designers rather than athletes, my position is admittedly skewed. Perhaps I cannot understand my hometown’s fierce loyalty to the San Francisco Giants, or my Manhattan friends who don Giants-of-the-football variety paraphernalia each Sunday; when I say that what I feel towards the likes of Valentino or Dolce & Gabbana is different than the way said sport fanatics feel, a person who tethers both sides of the argument may disagree.
Further weighing down my end of the seesaw is that I actually work in fashion. I started way back when in PR as an assistant for a few major design houses, so for many of the brands I feel a sense of relationship with today, a real connection did at one point exist, albeit low on the totem pole. After leaving PR and entering the world of editorial, I found myself sitting at shows, visiting showrooms, conversing with designers and touching the clothes sometimes mere days after they walked. Living in Manhattan, as the commenter who sparked this discussion pointed out, allows for us to meet very young designers–the up-and-comers–and develop a sense of loyalty and “I knew you when.”
Now, allow me to take a step back and tackle my own argument from the perspective of someone who perhaps doesn’t work in fashion. (I’m also extremely eager to hear from those of you who love it, but don’t work in it.)
When I was just an intern at a very big magazine, I felt like the tiniest of fish in a giant ocean. What I thought I knew, I very quickly learned I didn’t. And everything else that I wasn’t aware I didn’t know of, well, I learned that even faster. Who was my favorite designer? Erm…Chanel. And did I wear Chanel? No… And did I know who designed for Chanel? Well certainly! This wasn’t amateur hour! Now ask me if I knew that the very same designer also designed at Fendi. No.
So it was here that I was, in fact, a fan.
But the operative word lies in was, because upon instantly realizing that my degree in journalism had prepped me for everything except the industry I wanted to be part of, I made it my business to study. Style.com became my bible, and I absorbed as much as I could from the experts around me. To this day the amount of knowledge to gather is overwhelming, but for me, that’s all part of the fun.
It was in the process, of research, of learning, of immersion by way of street style and magazine articles, that I very much developed a relationship with brands. Although, in looking back on it all, perhaps it’s not the brands so much, or the designers, or the clothes, that I consider myself related to. Maybe it’s the idea of fashion as a whole.
I truly believe that one can find requited emotions for what may technically be a one-way street. Aren’t there paintings, songs, movies, scents, that you feel you have a relationship with? Or at least very much more of a deep connection to? Where calling it fandom just wouldn’t do the self-described symbiosis justice?
Now tell me where your thoughts lay. Are there any brands that you feel very much connected to, to the point of it being a relationship? Or what about designers? Or even an item–your grandmother’s Hermes clutch, per Leandra’s example.
I know this is a cogitation, but I too would love for you to talk about it.
Photo by Tommy Ton.