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30-06-2012
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Fashion Patriotism
I'm starting this thread because I became interested in this obsession with a brand's country through promotion.
Dolce & Gabbana have, for a number of seasons, been promoting not just the clothes etc, but the idea of an Italian life wearing Dolce & Gabbana. Their latest show had relatively normal Italian people walking the runway instead of models.
Why is there this massive push to sell this brand identity? I'm interested to know if there are any benefits brands have from boasting their country of origin, apart from a typical association of everything made in Italy is fine and good quality.

Below is an image from the latest Dolce & Gabbana campaign; a very Spanish new campaign from Loewe and the new Fendi campaign shot in an ex-vineyard outside of Florence.





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30-06-2012
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Interesting idea for a thread!

Bally is another brand I've noticed has been doing this lately. They're promoting "Swissness" in their campaigns although the company has long been sold to non-Swiss owners.

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I don't have an answer to why a brand would benefit from this though I thought the discussion around the name change of YSL to Saint Laurent Paris and people being outraged about Hedi Slimane designing for YSL while remaining based in L.A. instead of moving to Paris had me wondering about the importance of the location and for a brand to be identifying with it, too.
I guess you could say you automatically associate a certain lifestyle with a particular region in the world and that can be appealing to many people. But I cannot imagine people looking at a Dolce & Gabbana campaign and thinking "Oh yes, I want to have twelve kids and a wear expensive tight black lace dresses because its so Sicilian". I get that it's important for a brand to sell a lifestyle and an image but I think when the always the same cultural references become too literal and obvious I don't find it that interesting anymore. I prefer a designer to draw inspiration from different places and cultures in the world rather than sticking to just one because I think that's where the challenge lies, being inspired by many different things and still being able to build up a distinctive brand identity.
But I think it's different when a traditional brand has had a long history of being essentially Parisian (as in the case of YSL) or British (Burberry) and the brand itself has established a style and iconic trends within that culture. But in this case it's usually not the brand promoting it and it's just a very well-known fact that you expect new designers coming to the house to respect and work with, not for patriotic purposes but because of the history of the brand itself being important.

At the same time I must say that there's something funny about patriotism in fashion at a time when most of our complaints about the current state of fashion include us being frustrated with a continuous globalization and homogenization in style and fashion. This form of over the top patriotism might be an attempt of counteracting that evolution? But in the case of Dolce & Gabbana it just does come across as excessive and tacky, in my opinion.

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30-06-2012
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Some great points made, Psylocke, it seems like a strange idea to me because it seems a little.. close-minded, and even old-fashioned. Surely a modern designer does draw from different places and different cultures, like you said? And how many consumers want to stay in the same place, or wear all one brand, or wear one style from one idea for too long?

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30-06-2012
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Nice thread.. thanks for creating it. As for the very nationalistic take.. I think it only partially works for 'trendy' and stylish cultures.. like the parisian chic, the sexy italian or the aristocratic brits.. When working with these stereotypes, it somewhat works since they're images people buy and want to recreate for themselves. I've lost count of how many image boards or editorials trying to show us the newest take on the 'Parisian chic' etc.

But I agree with you both in that it is a bit close minded and I find it lazy. Because, like I mentioned, they're all safe ways of presenting one selves. Attaching one's brand onto a pre-existing image hoping its connotations will rub off on the brand itself. It's nothing new but it's definitely lazy. And no one is ever going to find those images tacky since they're already well known, chic and classic. But at the same time, with some brands I do feel like they go hand in hand with the cultural stereotype. Not so much D&G + Italy (which is a new direction I feel), but more YSL and CD paired with Paris and Burberry+London. I feel like they're so heavily immersed within each other that it becomes hard to take the Paris out of Dior and vise versa.

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02-07-2012
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Well .. to me the answer is quite easy ... this whole nationalism or whatchamacallit is because people want to RELATE to something ....

You will have to admit that for MOST people its easier to relate to a D&G or YSL campaign than lets say Helmut Lang in the 90s or Comme des garcons .... its like nationalism dressed in slightly different way to sell a lifestyle .... thats all they aspire to ... maybe evoke feelings on people (which happens a lot when it comes to clothing).

I for example ... I am not french, but I certainly dress more like a french or english person than someone who hails from the country Im from :/

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02-07-2012
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I think because we are always fascinated by being someone we are not. I'll never be Italian and probably will never live there but D&G are selling me the idea that with their clothes I'll have a tiny part of that joyful Italian life they portray. We have seen countless articles on how to dress the French way so why wouldn't the companies want to benefit from that. After all, they say the grass is greener in the other side.

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02-07-2012
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I always suspect that when a company outsources more of its manufacturing, it tries to compensate by selling a greater sense of 'authenticity' through its advertising, hoping that people will buy into the values of the visual product, rather than looking at the labels on the actual product.

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02-07-2012
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When I first read this thread the first American brand that reminded me of fashion patriotism was Tommy Hilfiger. Every time I see one of the brands ad's I always get a feeling they are trying to sell a version of the American dream; a large/happy family that is doing well off and living a relaxed lifestyle. And I think for a lot of people it's a very appealing idea because it creates a sense of belonging. And who doesn't want to be a part of a group or a certain identity?

Perhaps it's a bit "easy" sticking to a certain idea or lifestyle when designing but it also creates a sense of stability. People like knowing what a brand represents, that they won't completely change direction each season which is why I think brands like Burberry or Tommy Hilfiger can be very successful. They know how to market themselves and they create a certain idea of what the "heritage of the brand" is. I mean Burberry has been around since 1856 and they've established that they are a quality British brand that has a lot of history and heritage. People aren't just buying the clothes they are buying the history that comes along with the clothes. Even the Burberry trench coat is selling the idea of "fashion patriotism," because when someone is wearing one, aren't they trying to embody the feeling of an Englishman/women?

I don't think that fashion patriotism is wrong or right, it's often just is. Maybe some brands ought to try to explore ideas outside of their chosen identity but for other brands they should stick to what they do best. Or maybe it just depends on how they execute the selling of "patriotism?" I'm not totally sure, I'll have to mull this idea over a little bit more. Great idea for a thread btw.

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Last edited by YoninahAliza; 02-07-2012 at 08:18 PM.
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02-07-2012
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Another example is the current Dior campaign shot at Versailles ... perhaps the message there is, forget Galliano and all that mess ... let's associate Dior with the Sun King and the glory of France instead!!


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02-07-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoninahAliza View Post
I mean Burberry has been around since 1856 and they've established that they are a quality British brand that has a lot of history and heritage. People aren't just buying the clothes they are buying the history that comes along with the clothes. Even the Burberry trench coat is selling the idea of "fashion patriotism," because when someone is wearing one, aren't they trying to embody the feeling of an Englishman/women?
Hmm... on one hand Burberry presents itself as something quintessentially British and refined blah blah blah, but then I can't help but remember the early/mid-2000s when Burberry was all the rage for "chavs." I guess they're quintessentially British as well, but not the "Britishness" that Burberry would like to sell. I don't think many Chavs go foxhunting. So I think you have to look at who really embraces the brand, despite who the brand wants to appeal to.

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02-07-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoninahAliza View Post
When I first read this thread the first American brand that reminded me of fashion patriotism was Tommy Hilfiger. Every time I see one of the brands ad's I always get a feeling they are trying to sell a version of the American dream; a large/happy family that is doing well off and living a relaxed lifestyle. And I think for a lot of people it's a very appealing idea because it creates a sense of belonging. And who doesn't want to be a part of a group or a certain identity?

Perhaps it's a bit "easy" sticking to a certain idea or lifestyle when designing but it also creates a sense of stability. People like knowing what a brand represents, that they won't completely change direction each season which is why I think brands like Burberry or Tommy Hilfiger can be very successful. They know how to market themselves and they create a certain idea of what the "heritage of the brand" is. I mean Burberry has been around since 1856 and they've established that they are a quality British brand that has a lot of history and heritage. People aren't just buying the clothes they are buying the history that comes along with the clothes. Even the Burberry trench coat is selling the idea of "fashion patriotism," because when someone is wearing one, aren't they trying to embody the feeling of an Englishman/women?

I don't think that fashion patriotism is wrong or right, it's often just is. Maybe some brands ought to try to explore ideas outside of their chosen identity but for other brands they should stick to what they do best. Or maybe it just depends on how they execute the selling of "patriotism?" I'm not totally sure, I'll have to mull this idea over a little bit more. Great idea for a thread btw.
Those Hilfiger ads always look so fake, and I guess they're meant to ... there's no attempt to create a group of people who look like they're related or even have anything to do with each other. I'm not sure I get those ads

Ralph Lauren (an American, but certainly not a WASP) is the absolute best at creating and selling Americana.

I think there's a reason for the designer of a French label to be based in France, and certainly not being based there will change the nature of the house IMO. I think there's a terroir to fashion ... I guess that's the point of these ads.

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02-07-2012
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^True, about the Tommy Hilfiger ad's. Though, I always assumed that it was a culturally diverse family! And yeah, Ralph Lauren is probably a better choice for selling Americana, silly of me not to think of that. Also, Ralph's the go to brand for the US Olympic team's opening and closing ceremony outfits so I guess that also says something about him. He's a designer whose been chosen to create the looks that will be worn by athletes representing America. If that doesn't sell patriotism through a label I don't know what does! But I think it's interesting that Stella McCartney was chosen to design the British team's wardrobe, that they didn't go with a "heritage" brand. It's a big honor to design the clothes for the Olympic teams though because the athletes aren't just competing for themselves but for their nations and the clothes should reflect that.

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02-07-2012
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^ Certainly racial diversity in families is totally real, but typically families are not 95% all the same age

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02-07-2012
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^That's true as well... but that's why they threw in some dapper looking older couples who can't be more then 60 years old to be the grandparents.

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04-07-2012
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Great thread! I agree on everything that's been said here, so no point for me to write a huge text, but I'll ad that when I was in the US (I'm French - just so this story makes sense) I was really surprised to see how "exotic" and amazing things and people from especially France or Italy are perceived. It's like they think we're innately chic and so much more elegant, smart etc than them. This might seem true when you spend time in certain parts of certain cities, but boy, do we have white trash here too!
America does have its own culture, but it's also astonishing how many people there will tell you they're German and Irish and Italian and a quarter whatever and so on. To me that's BS. You're American. It comes back to that search of identity, and patriotic clichés are just so easy to comfort yourself into.

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