Fri 27 Jul 2007
Everyone is up in arms about some old French fart (no disrespect to my French people who keep it vrai, lol) who is basically said that he didnt like how his clothing line was so…um…”ethnic” (his words)
“Somewhere, the company was running too much in some direction, too much in hip-hop stuff,” Mr. Girbaud, 62, told the Transom (perhaps taking a page from the playbook of a compatriot who last year expressed disdainful befuddlement toward rappers’ loyalty to the Champagne label Cristal). He was wearing a black-collared shirt over baggy black jeans, which were adorned with a single drooping silver chain that smacked against his knee as he strode through the streamlined space. “To be just connected in the hip-hop stuff is other brand; there is people like Russell Simmons or Damon Dash or Puff Daddy or all this kind. I’m not the rap people. Sure, we introduced the baggy jeans, we introduced stonewashed and all this stuff in the 60’s or 70’s, I never target just to be ethnic. It’s stupid.”…….
When it comes to his own self-expression, Mr. Girbaud seems to think that the exigencies of marketing are cramping his style. “I have to talk like that”—he flashed a gang hand-sign—“and speak like that”—he flashed another gang hand-sign—“and move like that”—he grabbed his crotch—“and it’s ridiculous!” Now he was shouting. “What we bring into the market was always innovative, and I feel now I am trapped and I have to just talk the same way, like I have to have skulls and some kind of snakes.** It’s boring, it’s really boring!”
The reason why the whole interview didnt get my panties in a bunch is simple….For one thing……
Girbaud is clearly an idiot. And the hip hop imitations should get him punched in the face. But he needs to be mad at his own damn company because they’re the ones who are desperately trying to market to “the rap people.” I see that big ol’ weird-ass Marithe and Francois Girbaud billboard on 125th street all the time. But meanwhile….”the rap people” have long since moved on to other coveted brands. Even traditional urban brands by Puff Daddy and Damon Dash and Russell Simmons are no longer hot with the more fashion-forward hip hop consumers. Its all about streetwear now, and even that is getting stale. (ironic t-shirts and rainbow brite nostalgia gear be gone)
But more importantly…..
Why do we constantly expect the old, disconnected, owners of the brands we support to love us back? Especially when half the time, the whole detachment between their world and our world is what attracts us to their brands in the first place. (ie. Polo ski goggles and LV yacht shoes.) Why did Jay-Z launch that stupid campaign against Cristal when their CEO didnt fawn over his rap clientele the way Hennessey and Olde English have. Did you drink it because you felt some psychic connection with Louis Roederer? No, you drank it because it was the fanciest, most expensive, most-reputable pisswater you could find. And if it was specifically marketed to you, Hov, you wouldnt touch it with a 10-foot straw in a jelly jar. Which is why I’d bet that his lips never touched nare drop of Sizzurp or even Armadale for that matter. (and dont even get me started on that ridiculous scam to make us switch over to “the gold bottle.”)
I think there’s a big difference between a brand being snobby, and a brand being racist. Snobby is, we don’t need you. Racist is, we wont allow you to buy our stuff (ahem, Hermes), or we’re gonna make money by making fun of you (ahem, Abercrombie and Fitch). Anyways, sorry to vent : )
**actually, I gotta agree on this one. Skull n snakes are dead and stinking. Sucks for me cause I’m wearing one on my blog photo.