On Beauty, #menswear, video, and the meaning of art / A movie starring T-Michael, A. Sauvage, Philip Lim and Mr Porter.
“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”
Harry S. Truman
The Internet is so bottomless and lawless and structureless and ruleless, you’d think it’s Show Time, with brands going all arty and psychedelic, coming up with new things every day, things that will help change our Weltanschauung and open our minds, just like when you watch a movie directed by Terry Gilliam or enjoy a pièce de theatre written by Samuel Beckett or you look at Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X.
Paradoxically, it doesn’t work that way.
The majority of brands online still behave in a surprisingly unsurprising way. Same old story, same old tricks, same old copy, same old content. Social media should work as the lab in which revolutionary experiments get conducted, in order to find the cure to boredom, and to finally synthesise the ultimate recreational and mind-expanding pill. In fact, most of the times we see things about cats, BUY THIS, LIKE THAT, SHARE THIS, REPIN THAT, Rihanna and a couple of photographs with a caption that says something grandma-friendly, but with some sort of rebellious twist. What happened to Beauty? What happen to the motto “Ars gratia artis”, AKA “L’art pour l’art”, AKA “Art for art’s sake”, which inspired Edgar Allan Poe, Théophile Gautier, Victor Cousin and Walter Benjamin? What happened to David Lynch and a bunch of scary, silent bunnies? Where is John Cage, making music with a piano, a few bolts and screws, and a hammer? Moreover, as video is still the dark horse of social media, it allows the inspired one to go even more creative and experimental. But few brands truly exploit the medium, and, when they do, they tend to be quite conservative.
Storytelling through video, then, how should it be done? It’s all about Beauty. GIVE US BEAUTY. Please.
Look at the following examples. Pure Beauty. Art. Cool stuff. Less garments, more message. Quality over quantity. Focus on the story rather than sales. And Vimeo instead of YouTube. Win.
‘Phillip Lim has proved an early addition to the onslaught of spring/summer 2013 campaign videos, with a beautiful spot for its menswear line that demonstrates martial arts tricking.’
THIS IS NOT A SUIT (2010) — A FILM BY A. SAUVAGE
A stunning homage to Jørgen Leth’s The Perfect Human.
FEATURE FILM: THE REINVENTION
From Mr Porter – ‘One Sunday evening in April 2004, 32-year-old professional gambler Mr Ashley Revell walked into Las Vegas’ Plaza Hotel & Casino in a black tuxedo. His aim? To take the $135,300 he’d made the previous month selling everything he owned – including the clothes off his back – and place it on the roulette table in one gigantic, double-or-nothing bet. Pick right between black and red and he’d be twice as rich; wrong, and he’d walk away with nothing. Literally.’
ART COMES FIRST
About: ‘Fashion maybe suﬀers from a reputation as art’s most shallow valued cousin, but that is only because its power is often corrupted and abused.
The A.C.F. is not about fashion in that way. It is about something else entirely. The nobility of the striving and nature mandate that we fulﬁll our responsibility to inspire one another.’
The video has been ‘Written & Directed by Finn-Erik Rognan and T-Michael’. I met the latter when I was living in Norway: a true gentleman, always impeccably dressed, a Über-stylish dandy, way before the #menswear thing became a mainstream trend. A pioneer. He even came to one of our exhibitions, held in a squatted wooden house, close to his studio, in the most beautiful – and somehow hidden – part of Bergen. Bless.
What will the future bring? Hopefully, more Beauty.
Among some interesting new brands devoted to menswear, elegance, and the Beauty of art, there’s one that looks especially enlightened: the name’s Curieux, stay tuned for more.
What do you think?
Facebook Graph Search: a guide for brands and Page admins. Plus, everything you did before will be used against you.
Remember when Facebook was just the coffee in our lives – you use it three or four times a day, during the break, and you quite enjoy it, even if it makes you feel a bit agitated? Before turning from coffee to a rather hard drug we have to assume all day every day, Facebook was seen as a quasi-innocuous medium to snoop around friends’ and ex boyfriends/girlfriends’ lives; we had fake identities, nicknames and silly Hotmail and Yahoo! email accounts, and, above all, we used to laugh at pages users would come up with, way before brands would realise the potential of it. Therefore, we wouldn’t think twice before giving away an impressive amount of “Likes” to pages called ‘Can this Potato get more fans than Justin Bieber?’, ‘”Drunk, I’m home from the honey, I’m not pub.”’ and ‘”Ya i am reaching in 5 minutes”.*1 hour later* “Im almost there,only 2mins”’.
(picture taken from ‘”I love youuuu” “You’re drunk, shut up”‘)
Good ol’ days.
Now, the Dark Lord Baron Zuck von Facebook came up with a way to monetise on all the personal info we gave away during these years: say hello to Facebook Graph Search.
What is it? “People use search engines to answer questions,” Zuckerberg said “But we can answer a set of questions that no one else can really answer. All those other services are indexing primarily public information, and stuff in Facebook isn’t out there in the world — it’s stuff that people share. There’s no real way to cut through the contents of what people are sharing, to fulfill big human needs about discovery, to find people you wouldn’t otherwise be connected with. And we thought we should do something about that. We’re the only service in the world that can do that.”
Check Mashable for more info.
What is the inside story? Read this article on Wired, and pay attention to this shred: ‘Rasmussen (the engine’s father) joined Facebook’s existing search team. The company already had truckloads of information, but it was hard for users to access. Who are my friends in New York City? What books are my friends reading? Is there anyone nearby who loves Wilco? What’s an Italian restaurant that people really like? The new search product would answer such queries. But Rasmussen’s team faced a tough quandary: whether to focus on the most popular kinds of questions — or take on the tougher challenge of building a smarter search engine that would let users ask Facebook pretty much anything.’
So, apparently, these are the challenges brands will have to face, in order to ride the big wave, and make a few quid out of it:
- Facebook Graph Search looks pretty user-centred. Therefore, brands will have to come up with a more personalised and tailored Facebook experience, and try to obtain and use UGC (User Generated Content) even more.
- Companies will have to read the situation in a much deeper way, identifying and pinpointing top influencers. Then, they’ll have to make them talk about the brand. Socialbakers already offers a feature that helps page admins understand who the most active and influential fans are.
- Facebook will become a way to discover new things – e.g. restaurants or bars your friends liked, in a certain area – or to find out who’s doing what where, who is single, and so on and so forth. Therefore, brands will have to adjust their strategies, and integrate lessons learned from other platforms, such as Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even some dating websites’ tricks.
- Search will go local. No more global pages with 434m fans, one language, all aboard. From now on, one size doesn’t fit all, and pages will have to go smaller, local, and parochial.
- Perhaps the most important thing brands will have to consider is that “Likes” are coming back, BIG TIME. There will be an important shift from “Share” to “Like” again, as the latters influence heavily the results on Facebook Graph Search. Read more here, on Business Insider.
- Finally, there will be no excuses anymore: brands will have to create better and stronger content – better content, more likes, right? Right.
The last thing: in case you are not the CEO of a brand, nor the admin of a brand page, and this post worried the hell out of you and your fear for your privateness, you poor little vulnerable Facebook user, whose only fault was to give away too many information about yourself, your family, friends and anything you know, like, and do, then you can change your privacy settings, following the instructions you’ll find on CNET’s article ‘Now’s a really good time to update these Facebook privacy settings’.
(Picture taken from Mashable, then remixed)
What do you think?
Sultans of Swag / Street Style
The Woost, AKA Arbiter Coolarum
Year of the Monkey
The Dark Side of the Groom, or “Not Sure What Is Going On Here”
What do you think?
Dear Rebecca Minkoff, you are doing it right! But you should get some Twitter tips from Mangal 2, the Turkish restaurant in Dalston.
Twitter reminds me of David Lynch: many say it’s the best thing ever, others show hatred to the platform and its quasi-sectarian users – they have their own jargon, and codes according to which you constantly have to talk to peers, and use lots of hashtags – others simply don’t get it.
Whether you like or not, though, Twitter is an unavoidable tool if you have a digital presence. The problem is how you use it. According to an article published by The Verge, ‘Millions of people use Twitter on a regular basis, but how many of them are bona fide masters of the microblogging medium? If you ask them, more than 181,000.’ Brace yourself, for here come the Twitter Gurus again. The truth is, I’m afraid, that usually Twitter is used by brands for customer service-related matter, or as an extension of Facebook and Tumblr, or as a hub for links to other destinations and platforms, but it is rarely exploited as an engaging tool per se.
Let’s face it, usually tweets are nothing but “Hi, click here, go there and check that out”.
Look at Rebecca Minkoff: a visually rich and engaging Facebook page, an absolutely inspiring Pinterest, a seriously well-written blog, with lots of interesting content, about music, art, culture, travel, food and other cool stuff. But the Twitter account is dull. No fun. No sparkle. No good. ‘Look of the day (link)’, ‘Loving this (link)’, ‘Here’s a bright idea (link)’, ‘Spotted at Pre-Fall appointments: (link)’, ‘A little #prefall sneak peek! (link)’ and so on and so forth.
I was a bit disappointed. But then, roaming around the Land of the Holy Twitterian, I found, thanks to Ms. Serendipity, one of the best accounts ever. And it’s not Gucci’s, or Obama’s, or The Stones’, or Brett Easton Ellis’. Nope, this is @Mangal2, a Turkish restaurant, in Dalston, north-east London. Here’s a selection of the funniest tweets they came up with, lately:
‘This weather makes me so happy! I could just do something really nice today like give staff a raise or free kebabs to customers. But no.’
‘Ideal #CBB list: 1) a masochist 2) a sadist 3) Nick Griffin 4) Somebody physically imposing and aggressive of an ethnic origin 5) Hasselhoff’
‘Nothing more infuriating than approaching a Turkish customer in Turkish, only for them to reply in broken English ‘I no Turkisch’.’
‘Turkey has been trying to film their own version of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ since 1983. Still can’t find a lead for the ‘good’.’
‘Don’t complain about ‘tiny portions’ when you’ve arrived with that huge belly. In context, everything is small. Trees are small.’
‘Turkey has just entered 1972.’
‘Customer pays, gets up to leave: oh wait, did the bill inc. service? Me: No. Customer: ok, good. *leaves*’
‘Family arrives. They order wine. Two 12 year old kids want a glass. Kids, don’t make me bring my belt out. Be good.’
‘Don’t over-estimate how liked you are. You reserved a table for 25 for your birthday but only 6 of you turned up. Know thyself.’
‘If you manage 10 Turkish men at your job you’re pretty much over-qualified for any position at London Zoo.’
”In my next life I want to come back as a Turkish man’ – nobody.’
‘Being a bouncer in Dalston must be the easiest job in the world. Hipsters don’t fight.’
(On Xmas day) ‘Everyone is tweeting about ‘Turkey in the oven’ and that’s really racist and insulting.’
‘Hipsters originate from Instagramistan. I know this sounds like a war-torn nation, but unfortunately it isn’t.’
What is so good about it, then?
First of all, it is bloody funny.
Secondly, I doubt they hired a hip agency in Shoreditch or a moustached freelance to take care of it. Too many self-proclaimed Gurus or Ninjas will never reach this level of engagement.
Last but not least, they show you can use anything to bring grist to your mill: the environment you work in (restaurant-related tweets), the people around you (customer or hipster-realted jokes), puns (Turkey the country vs Turkey the bird), and so on and so forth.
If a Turkish restaurant can come up with engaging tweets on a daily basis, and define a strong strategy for a powerful presence, why not a fashion brand, with much bigger resources and an army of Gurus at their service?
DOGS, RIHANNA, LOL, ONE DIRECTION, CAT, CAT, CAT, ROFL, OMG, MEME, SPAM, SPAM, CAT, NICE QUOTE SUCH AS “LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES”, LOL, CAT, DOG, OTHER KIND OF PET, TAG, SPAM, RIHANNA, JAY-Z, BEYONCE’, JUSTIN BIEBER, POLITICS, LUV, CAT, CAT, LOL, RIHANNA, STUFF REPOSTED FROM A PAGE CALLED “GETTING SO DRUNK, THE PARAMEDICS FIND BOOD IN YOUR ALCOHOL STREAM”, CAT, RIHANNA, LOL, SWAG, SOME KIND OF ARMCHAIR REVOLUTIONARY STATEMENT AGAINST GREEDY BANKERS, NEW WORLD ORDER AND WALL STREET, RIHANNA, LOL.
That was Facebook in 83 words.
A noisy, lawless souk in which everybody screams, blah blahs around, listens to Rihanna and lols at cats.
In this quasi-apocalyptic scenario, do we really need fashion brands to pump up the volume knobs up to 11? I don’t think so.
They should tell stories, instead of going for cheap tricks and loud sirens in order to attract the attention – and ultimately the loyalty – of users and (existing or potential) fans.
Quality, not quantiy.
Therefore, dear fashion brands, STOP doing the following things, and give us something intriguing, interesting, and content worth sharing.
1. STOP exaggerating things.
We have been talking about the use (or misuse) of language on Facebook, when it comes to Luxury Brands. That was about the lack of vocabulary, this is about using the right words in the right contest.
Look the image below. The expressions “To dye/die for”, “LOVE” and “obsessed” compare in this post. You might think this is Sophocles’ Antigone; you are wrong, they are talking about shoes. Yes, shoes.
You should die for freedom, not for a pair of shoes, you must love the planet and its inhabitants, not high heels, you need affection, not a 800 quid pair of pumps, you can be obsessed with Francis Bacon’s painting, not with slippers.
Seriously, let’s get real.
2. STOP telling unbelievable and ridiculous lies.
When I see a post like “FACEBOOK EXCLUSIVE. For our fans ONLY, blah blah”, I shiver. To put the words “Exclusive” and “Facebook”, together, in the same sentence, is like saying “bespoke Primark dress”.
Or think about the “Behind the scenes” photos. Just because you can see a spotlight and an intern that fixes something in the background doesn’t make it real.
Everybody’s posing, that’s not a behind the scenes, that’s a “Let’s pretend you are unaware of the camera and pull an intense face, and you, intern, what’s your name again? yeah, whatever, you go there and act like you were fixing stuff, chop chop!” kind of situation (This one is taken from Cesare Paciotti’s Facebook page)
3. Stop asking me to SHARE and LIKE your posts if your posts are rubbish, and, most of all, stop using ALL CAPS, cos they don’t hypnotise people, they just bother them.
Yes, I used them in the word STOP, and when describing Facebook, you’re right, I’m guilty, mea culpa, but that was just because I wanted to reproduce the noise, not because I think people on social networks are a bunch of brainless Cercopithecuses that could buy anything is promoted using all caps.
Posts such as ‘SHARE this if you ______.’, ‘LIKE us if you think ______.’ should disappear. If you want me to share your posts, make them shareable, and come up with decent content. Simple, right?
Or, if you really have to use them, at least come up with something like this. Smart, uh?
(source: Bike EXIF)
What do you think?
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