It’s inevitable that a youth-driven political movement is going to attract companies that will do anything to strike a chord with that elusive 20-something “cool” group of consumers. But when you’re talking about Occupy Wall Street (and all its international equivalents), a movement that’s kinda against consumerism, it becomes sort of ridiculous when companies start trying to target that demographic. Isn’t the 99% hard up? (Yes, we are.) But that hasn’t stopped the fashion industry–and some ballsy companies–from hopping on the OWS bandwagon and trying to sell shit.
Lest you think it’s all “homeless chic,” at the various parks, it’s so not. Simon Doonan wrote a piece for Slate that highlighted the street style, and included this description of the scene, which is still making us laugh: “Nathalie was wearing a Batman hoodie from Hot Topic accessorized with a fake Le Sportsac bag. Janelle was rocking a fetchingly luscious flesh-colored angora scarf from H&M. There is, the Chinese will be glad to hear, no restrictive prohibition against aggressively sourced garment manufacture among the Zuccottees.” Anyway, the point is that OWS’ers are somewhat fashion conscious, or at least care what they look like and the image they present, whether it’s “scruffy protester” or “faux ironic banker.” Great set-up for entrepreneurial companies to step in.
Jezebel found another example yesterday. Daily Candy’s blast included a call to “Occupy These Clothes and Accessories.” The text says: “We are the 99 percent who can’t afford the labels we covet and refuse to settle for sample sales (well, mostly). Today we stand up for our right to wear high-quality, budget-friendly pieces by shopping Everlane, the egalitarian, online-only wardrobe solution where everything costs less than a Benjamin.” When Jezebel tried to shop at Everlane, they discovered that “production runs were limited” and they had to invite a bunch of friends to join if they wanted access. That’s positively elitist.
So the bottom line is we’re not sure whether this is the best marketing technique. We should all remember the trouble Kenneth Cole got into with its Egypt tweet during the riots. Perhaps commerce and politial uprising should remain separate, though we won’t be surprised if we see OWS-inspired fashion on the fall runways in February.