There is a large mall in Manchester called the Trafford Centre (because it is in Trafford), I hate the place. It doesn’t really have any shops that Manchester centre doesn’t, none that I want to go into, but the Selfridges does hold some different lines such as Louboutin shoes and the French brands Sandro and Maje. On a rare occasion (I was tricked into it) I had to go to the second hell that is the Trafford Centre (think crowds, pushing, shoving, screaming children) and my friend Aimee insisted I needed to leave the sanctity of Selfridges and see the ‘dark shop’. No matter how many times she explained it to me I couldn’t picture what she meant:
From the outside we see the shop, a long queue formed outside, hmm looks to me like an Abercrombie & Fitch (on closer inspection we see it is Hollister by A&F).
Lots of hip kids, and kids dragging around their parents are in the line, all looking very excited. Being British I decide to joint the queue to see whats going on.
Trying to take a sneaky peek inside, so ok you can’t see much of what is inside, but it must be good if their is a queue right!!
Hmm well I actually couldn’t tell you if anything was any good because I couldn’t see a thing:
This is not bad photography, but exactly what it was like inside
Random spot lights were used here and there
But not here
It was also deafening with loud music, we kind of stumbled around a bit until we fell, blinking, out of the exit. Aimee: ‘What did you think’ Me: ‘I need to think about that in my head for a bit’.
Whilst doing my thinking we went to grab a Coke, but the Coke machine was in darkness too, was this another attempt at being edgy or was it just broken, argh the confusion!?!?!!
Anyway after thinking about the strange Hollister experience I figured it was for cool kids who like to surf and stuff. Likely more of the ‘stuff’ as Manchester does not have a beach. We concluded it was the kind of shop that teenagers went to, and if you didn’t wear a Hollister t-shirt on non-uniform day at school you would be bullied. Hollister is cool, so must be worn (when I was at school it was a selection of Nike and Adidas, Aimee in NZ had Rip Curl and other surf brands).
Wanting to know a bit more about this aberration of false cool I checked out their website, again confused as to whether I was a ‘Betty’ or not? I didn’t find out much about the company other than I could purchase some VERY small clothes should I want to. They don’t have any company policy so Wikipedia had to come up with the goods.
“Hollister – American lifestyle brand by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. The concept was originally designed to attract consumers aged 14-18 through its SoCal -inspired image and casual wear” Ah ok I am too old but I get the focus group.
But then it got really interesting:
“All of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s spin-off brands have an elaborate pseudo-history to give meaning and feeling to the brand image of the Hollister concept.” Right so lies then?
“Hollister Co.’s story begins with the fictional character named John M. Hollister. An adventurous youth, he spent his youth practicing sports in the waters of Maine. He graduated from Yale University in 1915 at the age of 21. Not wanting the high-life his father established for him in Manhattan, the young man boarded a succession of steamboats, finally arriving in the Dutch East Indies by 1917. There, he bought a rubber plantation from the fictitious Gregory Van Gilder, and soon came to know and love Gilder’s daughter, Meta. Afterwards, Hollister sold the land, and with half of the money purchased a 50-foot (15 m) schooner on which he and Meta spent two years sailing the South Pacific Ocean treasuring the diverse cultures. John and Meta harboured in Los Angeles in 1919, and married in the late fall. John M. Hollister, Jr. was born in 1920, and after “discovering California and himself” with his love for the South Pacific in mind John Sr. established Hollister Co. in 1922 in Laguna Beach. The company became purveyors of South Pacific treasures (hand-crafted furniture, jewelry, linens, and artifacts from all the islands). The company changed after John Jr. took over the business in 1957, bringing into the inventory surf apparel and equipment. Only in fantasy is the company said to be still managed by the Hollisters. Abercrombie & Fitch calls the story “a story of passion, youth and love of the sea [carrying] the harmony of romance, beauty, adventure.”
“The story is not made publicly available but it helps tie in many elements of the brand with what was, in reality, conceived by Abercrombie & Fitch in the 21st century. The Hollister Co. brand is marketed as being established in 1922, and the date is found the labels and designs of the merchandise. The store is designed to simulate the feeling of being in a surf shop. Furthermore, the story of the character John Jr. being a renowned surfer is on the back of Jake cologne packaging.”
“Goods are given names from SoCal beaches. The labels proclaim Hollister Co. as “pacific merchants” established in 1922. A&F Corporate keeps HCO price points affordable to its targeted high school consumers. HCo price points are about 20% lower than its parent Abercrombie & Fitch. To maintain the SoCal theme, stores and merchandise are categorized within the divisions named “Dudes” (men) and “Bettys” (women).”
Oh now I get it.
“Hollister California pursues the technique of “walking self-marketing”, where in wearing an item of clothing from HCO results in direct advertising. This is notably achieved through the large embroidery or screenprint of the brand’s name, initials, fictional date of establishment and the flying seagull logo on the vast majority of their merchandise. The HCO-labeled shopping bag carried out of the store produces a similar effect. As a result, the company has not relied on media marketing to communicate its desired look and appeal. The brand’s marketing images are sepia toned and modified in order to look somewhat faded; this is reminiscent of the grayscale marketing images used by the Abercrombie & Fitch brand. The sepia toned images provide HCO’s campaigns with a vintage feel that is adequate to their fictional date of establishment, and the lifestyle promoted by the brand.”
I hold my hands up that this is a marketing phenomenon, its is very clever making the brand billions. You see the beautiful shop assistants looking very hip, beachy-cool, make the store edgy and unusual, create demand with queue’s = high sales amongst young teens. But isn’t it awful? The fakeness about it, that they had to create this false history and that they brand the clothes with the 1922 date. Why? Why not brand it with the true year of establishment ‘2000’?
Then I read on:
“The Hollister Co. brand together with its parent company Abercrombie & Fitch brand is being criticized in the UK because the merchandise that is offered to the UK customers cost double the prices (or even a direct $/┬ú swap) found in the United States and that goods offered in the UK are from past US seasons at full UK (┬ú) prices without past season – clearance discount.”
That says it all to me, again it is a great way to make money hawking past season as double the price, but really not the kind of company I would ever want to be associated with. There will be no ‘walking self-marketing’ from me!
What do you all feel about this?
I feel it is patronising, that we a brand to have been established to hold any weight.
I feel it is false, and that I would rather by from a brand with honest roots.
Does all this even matter, if you like the produce?