So say you’re surfing the web and see a jacket that looks cool. Could be on anyone — a Facebook friend’s photo, a model over at Esquire.com, a CNN photo of a prime minister. Westfield’s “fashion detector” lets you match the clothing image to any similar brands at its nearest mall location. Not enough? The app works on your iPhone, too, so you can surreptitiously snap photos of attractive lasses walking down the street to find the same short skirt for your wife. Or something like that.
Clever use of image matching and applications to drive impulse purchases. Well played, Westfield.
Via Ads of the World.
To understand the current flannel fashion, let’s walk over to Wall Street and Greek mythology. First up, market psychology. There’s a saying that investors don’t pick stocks based on what they think will happen (if you believe Google shares will rise in value, you buy them) or even what they think others predict will happen (if you think others think Google’s stock will go up, that will drive up prices, so you buy it). Instead, market investors are three steps removed — if you think everyone else believes that others think the stock will go up, then you buy the stock. We guess about others’ desires to stay ahead.
Self-reflection starts with vanity
And everyone’s desires are tied to Narcissus. As Geoffrey Miller recounts in the brilliant “Spent,” Narcissus was the handsome Greek lad who spurned the wood nymph Echo because he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. (He drowned and turned into a flower or something, which is why you hear echos in lake valleys. Really.) Miller suggests that most humans consume goods we don’t need because we have bits of narcissim in our psychology: the craving of others’ admiration. This is why people buy fancy leather jackets or watches or purses. You probably already have ways to stay warm in the rain, tell time, or carry cosmetics, but we crave new things because they signal our value to others.
Which is all tied to sex, of course, because if others don’t find you attractive, you don’t breed and your genes die. You, dear friend, are alive today because your caveman and cavewoman ancestors wore sexy pelts that turned each other on. Signaling status, intelligence, and creativity also pulls communities around you, useful if you need a collection of spears to fight off a stampede of mammoths.
Prediction + need = trends
These two drives — needing to signal to others and predicting how others will see our signals tomorrow — explain most of fashion. We constantly adjust our self-projections to stay ahead of what others will crave. The only way for your sperm or eggs to beat your competitors’ is to outthink their game. Which brings us around to flannel shirts. Have you seen the damned things are back in style?
Image: American Eagle Outfitters web site.
This original idea — selling three socks in a box, none of which go with each other — is more than a solution to the classic problem of getting dressed in the morning. Little Miss Matched broke away from symmetry, the basis of every design no matter how hip you think you are.
Seth notes that Little Miss Matched, which has expanded to women’s clothing and skateboards, just cleared $17 million in funding and a big deal with Macy’s.
Love the idea. What could YOU do to turn your own industry upside down? How could you solve needs in a new way? And can you please help us business guys get dressed too?
Are you about to meet with an agency team? Advergirl, aka Leigh Householder, advises you to size up ad agency personae by the types of socks they wear. Brilliant! For example, here is how she suggests you judge an agency sort who wears black socks.
Chances are you’re talking to the new biz guy. Used to spending his day traveling from one cliché corporate headquarters to another, he’s mastered the skill of the chameleon – blending in to his environs as if he had been there all along. Save the snazzy socks for those arty guys.
But, there’s a chance, too, that you’re dealing with the most treacherous kind of ad guy: the irrelevant middle manager who doesn’t yet know he’s irrelevant. This guy had a good year. An incredible year. A year that has made the agency loyal to him. Sadly, that year was over a decade ago. And since then, things have been … well, slow and sometimes, frankly, embarrassing. But, like the aging athlete who once won the big game in high school, this guy still believes he’s in the glory years. Align with him and take on all his gossipy baggage as your very own.
To tell the difference between these basic blacks, check the shoes. The new biz guy’s will be plain and shiny. The irrelevant middle manager, genuinely bad. Possibly even striking a jarring and unpleasant contrast to his pants.
We’re pleased to see our horizontal stripes make us the closer and strategist. Or, perhaps just a narcissist with funny-looking feet.
(Photo: Twenty Questions)