Do you care about style?Posted by Olly Lawder in blog April 27, 2012
Uniqlo’s new advertising campaign is in full swing with a multi-page spread in Shortlist and few similar min-mags and pull-outs dotted around various publications. It’s hard to miss such a cleanly designed spread, and their eye-catching red and white logo, but it was something else which caught my eye and inspired this blog: “Uniqlo is clothes that suit your values”. This is a bold statement. Even bolder when you write it in red and support it with the line, “Uniqlo, Made for all”.
Now I like Uniqlo’s clothes, they’ve got some great bold colours and the fit of the clothes is well suited to the ‘slimmer individual’. But I’ve always been a little suspicious of just how cheap they are; a polo shirt for £13 for example… You can’t help thinking that someone, somewhere is working for peanuts.
So I read the advert with interest, keen to discover a commitment to an organic cotton weave, a fair wages policy or even some deeper understanding of the positive role well-made, responsibly sourced clothes could play in creating a more sustainable world. But no. It turns out that my ‘values’, as far as Uniqlo understands them, are essentially a pedantic narcissism, the sort that would care deeply about having the choice between a polo shirt with a button-down collar and one without. I, apparently, am the sort of person who demands “standards so high, they are basically impossible to attain” from the shop that I buy my socks from.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have pushed them hard to include a statement like “clothes that suit your values” in their advertising, I just would have used one of the spreads in their 4-page advert to talk about actual values. There’s some reasonable stuff on their CSR page and it wouldn’t be hard to make a compelling story.
I think part of the problem is that there’s a damaging idea around that people don’t buy things because they’re ethical. But just because ethics aren’t everyone’s top buying priority, don’t be fooled into thinking that people don’t want them, aren’t interested or don’t care. An ethical story adds depth to your brand and, by association, to your customers; no one wants to appear shallow. Plus if you can offer people a guilt-free shopping experience they’ll be more likely to come back and more likely to spread the word.
Look, it’s a stylish campaign, but it’s intellectually old school. It simply reinforces the eternal brand failings of high street fashion – the promise to make you an ‘individual’ by giving you the opportunity to buy the same clothes as everyone else. Fast fashion’s solution to its inability to deliver on the brand promise that defines it has so far been to continually push the range of their lines and to change its collections more and more frequently. While Futerra’s swishing movement plays its part in helping good clothes find good homes the High Street has a long way to go to become sustainable.
As for Uniqlo, for a brand that claims they are “how the future dresses” perhaps they should raise their eyes from admiring their own buttons, look a little further forward and care a little more about style.
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April 27, 2012
Agreed. And it’s the kind of superlative style-without-substance message that carries over into ever bigger, slimmer, glossier and more hyper-real products consumed by a giddily speeding merry-go-round culture that doesn’t know when it’s time to get off. How long till we crash? Or till the grown-ups wake up and realise they’re being treated like toddlers in a toy shop?