The evolution: thoughts on brand loyalty

Tim Walker for Vogue Italia, December 2005
Image by Tim Walker for Vogue Italia, December 2005

I’ve become kind of obsessed with the distress American Apparel has been in recently…I started Manic Trout shortly after it began and those of us in the Indie world thought Dov was doing a pretty cool thing.  The company has made themselves the largest US manufacturer, refusing to go over seas and at the same time paying reasonable wages.  The clothes were cool, the ads were fresh and although the man is a perv, he was accomplishing something pretty rad.

In all of the articles I have recently read, this point had stuck out the most to me however….

American Apparel hit the big time in the early 2000s, ensnaring twenty-somethings with the very same edgy ads and louche tees. But those twenty-somethings are now pushing 40, and they’ve moved on from harem pants and unitards.

It really made me realize how true that statement is…I was in my early 20’s when American Apparel first hit the scenes and now in my early 30’s the brand and especially their ads, no longer appeal to me.  As I have been immersed in the re branding of Manic Trout this summer it made me think that as a designer:

A. You have to target an age group with all new members every few years
B. You have to evolve for your loyal customer base as they age
C. Create a mix to both bring in a new, younger audience and design styles to evolve with the current customer as they mature.

Obviously the answer is C. and this is exemplified with the old guard of fashion designers. The very young cannot afford couture, but if you make them love you young, by the time they reach maturity…they will be ready to buy.  You however cannot ignore those young lovelies…ready to wear and levels of brands under a designers name usually takes of that.  I think often about this concept and one day will have to separate the trout to design for a broader range of price points.

But for now… I have been setting out to design for those of my own age group and beyond…maturity is starting to show in the pieces I have been working on…and yet I still want to keep the whimsy that Manic Trout is known for. Ah, a tricky place that design world is…the young, the mature, the editorial…there are so many levels to create for!

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