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ROOT CAUSE #4: BAD MARKETING

Image by Andrej Lišakov

We can’t go through the root causes of the mess that has become the fashion industry without getting a bit philosophical about why and how we buy. And that’s why we need to talk about bad marketing. We use bad here in the sense of morally wrong because if we think about its effectiveness it this section could also be called Shockingly good marketing.

 

Earnest Elmo Calkins, considered the father of modern advertising, said in the early twentieth century "there are 2 kinds of products, the kind that you use (for a long time, like a car, a washing machine or, in the past, clothes) and the kind that you use up. Consumption is all about getting people to treat the things they use, as the things they use up”. And nothing represents this as well as the fashion industry.

Somehow brands have made us believe a series of things that are not true:

 

  1. That we need to dress a certain way to be cool.

  2. That for us to dress that way we need to buy new things.

  3. That if we don’t buy them now, we will miss out.

  4. That things go out of style (this one is partly true when we end up purchasing ridiculous things).

  5. That playing this game will make us happier.

 

We’re navigating a complex industry, because so much about fashion is about aspiration and desire, and not practicality and need. After all, at Trace Collective we don’t sell climbing gear (because Patagonia already does that better than anybody). But we do know that we respect our customers more than to try to print in their ways stuff that is not true to take their money. 

Image by Markus Spiske
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What we want our community to believe is that:

 

  1. They don’t need to dress in any way to be cool – we have an eye for fashion, and the coolest outfits that we’ve seen were all about how they were worn, not what they were wearing.

  2. They don’t need to buy new things unless they need them. Need is a fluffy concept in fashion, so our thumb rule is to ask ourselves whether we’ll wear something at least 50 times. 

  3. Renting and buying second hand is the new cool because it shows that you carer about the world more than you care about having something that will only be new for a few seconds.

  4. Timeless, high-quality pieces never go out of style, and that they’re an incredible investment that they’ll treasure for years to come.

  5. Knowing the stories behind our clothes is incredibly empowerment, not only because it connects us with the humans that worked for hours in creating them, but because aligning our purchases with our values will make us happier.​

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