I had promised to myself that I was not going to write anything negative on the blog, but the second half of this video the History of Workwear X Westcoast left a flea behind my ear.
The trademark West Coast, has launched the campaign “West Coast Worker” to work a line boots. So far so good, images are well produced content and advertising that is part of the business. Only one thing is to create the theme for a campaign, and another is to try to position themselves as a traditional brand “workwear“:
“Just as the name suggests, the brand sought their inspirations in the most pure sources of workwear west coast of the United States. The first item created was a slipper inspired by the californian surfers”.
A brand began creating sandals surfwear and boots adventure now tries to position itself as a brand authentic workwear.
As the video account, workwear is, by definition, the clothing, especially designed for tasks that involve manual work. Costumes and shoes manufactured to withstand heavy duty work and ensure safety. In its essence, should be quite durable and within the possible budget, to stay within the range of the salary of the employees.
What is now known as workwear in fashion, it goes beyond costumes desenvolvidoss to work and it takes into account also the products inspired in the workers of times past. Can be farmers, workers in the coal mines of 1890, of the british railways during the industrial revolution, military, or even pedestrians the japanese feudal.
Are products that do not meet the requirements of current safety, but seek an authenticity that can go beyond the simple picture, taking into consideration the materials used, the cut, the modeling and the methods of manufacturing that, even less efficient, were used in times where resources were more limited and (theoretically) things needed to last.
In this case, the more faithful the product when compared to a standard of the past, the more authentic it will be for the consumer market of this niche, that can be quite extreme but can also be someone that does not turn on very much and only want the visual.
For those who don’t know, the West Coast is a company of footwear and apparel for the male belonging to the Group Priority. The Shoes West Coast Ltda, as it was called in 1988, had as its inspiration the adventure, and the outdoors (hours of leisure outside of work). The first products of the company were sandals and good style billboard for the young audience.
The time has passed, and the brand has changed focus to casual shoes, becoming one of the leaders in the production of sapatênis (it would be the office work Friday?). The clothes of the West Coast are more recent. As far as I know, they are made by the group Lunelli. I found this release that I believe to be part of the result of the West Coast in 2004, that summarizes well the trajectory that you have never spent at work:
(…) A history of expansion. The West Coast was founded in September 1988 producing boots and slippers for sports outdoors. There was nothing like it in the country, and was an immediate success. Brazil bowed in front of the dressing with strips of nylon padded. The boots West Coast become an icon of the youth of the time. Ten years later, after a study on the changes corpontamentais of the consumer, the West Coast realized that the youth of the 90’s didn’t want the boot that the previous decade was so successful. They wanted products with different design.In 1999, on the basis of these findings, the West Coast began a process of repositioning the brand. The company took ares more young and modern, coming out of the focus of the outdoor sports to take on a guy more “urban”. It was the time of the practical products that could be adapted to any situation, day-to-day professional to a night out or partying. The West Coast was consolidated between the three largest and best brands of men’s shoes in the country.The success is reflected in the numbers of the company, which has increased the turnover, the volume of pairs sold and the average price of its products – from R$ 55 to R$ 180 in just this period.” Source
Also has this snippet of the interview to the Estadão, 2012, about the new management and positioning:
“’Fast fashion’. Director of the market of the company founded by his father 25 years ago, Rafael Schefer, 29 years old, is being groomed to take command of Group Priority – brother Eduardo is also a part of the body of executives of the company. In the company for ten years, both of which accompanied the purchase of the Cloves & Cinnamon, in 2006, and now investing in the renovation of the profile of the company to the market, “fast fashion”.” Source
THE VIDEO AND THE AUTHENTICITY
What bothered me in this video was the lack of authenticity. He tried to do something different from the nostalgia, where if you look to the past. Tried to build a reality, write a new story. This positioning is authentic? How far is this right or positive for a brand and for us consumers?
The word “authenticity” is difficult because it can all be authentic. A cotton shirt can be an “authentic shirt made of cotton from zimbabwe, cut and stitched by hand”, can be a “replica authentic of an old model”, can be an “authentic cotton shirt made in a factory in brazil” or simply a “an authentic shirt made in a sweatshop”. The word authenticity does not, by itself, if the product is good or bad; only if it is a true representation of your origin and your purpose. That is, the important thing is that the authenticity is representing in each case.
Differentiate the genuine products is extremely complicated and very subjective, but worse still is to analyze the way in which brands sell their products. This question is simple to do with copies and counterfeits, but it is a fine line when we talk about articles genuine… as is the case of the video of the West Coast. A thing produced honestly can become false, if it is sold with an image that is not in agreement with your source. Some brands invent terms and create stories that help you sell. These narratives are used to connect the products with idealized versions of their origin and our past.Can be songs, images, or a specific language. These stories invented may end up turning against the brand.
What happens for example, when a shoe brand claims to be made by skilled artisans but you find the same product that she sells in other stores? This narrative invented ends up making a product that would be authentic; if it was sold as a brazilian shoes, comfortable, with updated look and affordable price,
In 2002, The Wrangler has chosen the song “Fortunate Son” from Creedence to pack a shopping. Used only the first two sentences of this protest music against the Vietnam war (“Some folks are born to wave the flag oh, theyre red, White and blue”) to say that the jeans Wrangler are autênticamente patriots and the rock n roll classic. In an attempt to get a music of protest and distort it to pass a message pro the United States ended up alienating the consumer and the hypocrisy of the message has transformed the Wrangler in the same figure that the Creedence attacked when you made the music. The Cowboy outlaw turned to The Man. Even generated a comment as well nervous of the lead singer of CCR.
Levis did a campaign called “Go Forth” at the height of the economic crisis. The local campaign was a Braddock, an empty shell of a powerful industrial city that has been ravaged by the crisis of the indústira of steel in the United States in the 80’s. Levis has donated millions to help revitalize the city and used the locals as models. The messages in the style “Will Work For Better Times” and the photos of the residents working in the city detonated should strengthen the identity and image workwear/blue collar from Levis.
The big problem? No denim is nor has ever been manufactured in Braddock. And the worst, as well as the steel industry, the Levis closed their last factory in the United States in 2004, leaving behind a lot of ruined cities and unemployed people. This is the true connection between the city Braddock, and the manufacturer of Levis jeans. The campaign is not authentic because it does not represent the true origin of the products.
This examples get to be hypocrites. The image you tried to create is completely inconsistent with the reality. What brands did was to explore the desire american by the glory days of manufacturing in the country, to sell products that are actually countries in the “third world”. The tags were false. Imagine if you were a person that had done this with the other.
To be fair, the Levis is not the complete villain in the story. The globalisation of the production chain with certainty it was necessary for the survival of the brand. And Braddock really should have won with the donations. However, one of the consequences of closing the factories in the United States is that the Levis can no longer associate its image with the manufacture to North American. At least not in an honest way.
Instead of talking about places that have nothing to do with the practices of the current business, the Levis could have shown the cultures, people, and production sites around the world. This can be very powerful, to help clean up the image that certain production centres, which would end up valuing the product. And if the truth is not so glamorous, it would be even more authentic.
The Tender Co or the Jack/Knife are brands workwear recent and with a style like, the middle craft, which is well seen on the market today. The difference is that this really is part of what the brands represent and how they were born. Therefore, it keeps the speeches completely aligned with the source and the manufacturing method used.
These tags small is proud to have a line of limited production in the region where they live, using the best materials and traditional methods. They are extremely transparent about what they do. I don’t know if the way they chose to do things is best or worst, but it’s a conversation that will only leave to be authentic from the moment in which they change the way of doing it but don’t change the talk.
The Nike not chat more on that key since the 80’s and knows very well that not going to paste today.But she is authentic in respect to the design, or maybe the performance, and inspiration, for example. Imagine if Nike made a video saying that she is part of the history of the brands and adventure of explorers who explored Brazil. She probably would say otherwise, would not enter in the context of the tradition of the activity or the style, but to pull the discourse to the side of the tradition of innovation, performance, conquer goals, etc.
To maintain the authenticity as a consumer and as a brand is a concept confusing that force us to make decisions in respect of who we are, what we do, what we want to be and what we represent. A brand or a person can not escape from its essence simply creating narratives about a concept. Instead of trying to manufacture a story to position itself as a traditional brand workwear version of southern’s new, the West Coast, could, for example, have used the campaign Work Culture to show and add value to the brazilian workers, even more with the domestic industry in crisis.
So many brands in the wave of “storytelling” and of “heritage” and begin to appear with the history of roots and inventions about where they came from. Instead of romanticizing about a past to which they do not belong, they could focus on who they are and what they are doing at the moment. Things change very fast, and the “workwear” that is legal today, may go out of fashion, and give place to the “punkwear”, or we may see the return of the “surfwear”, or will know that.
Each change brings together a lot of stories and details of the product, and each reinvention and narrative created makes it more difficult to continue to be true and be authentic. And this much of the information that we receive does not always agree with reality.