Our consumption patterns are directly linked to our value system. No matter how we try to alter our perception of fashion, each time we consume it is directly linked to personal choice and a clear reflection of our politics and disposable income among other things.
Of course, in many cases, utilitarian and economic factors tend to take centre stage, but as human beings, naturally, we are more likely to select things that mean something to us as our first choice, which brings me to a question I have been asking for ages. Why are brands still so scared to connect with their audiences in the most pure and original way that would eventually lead them to their consumers? Why does coming off relatable and insync with the times still appear to be deeply troublesome?
I think before the advent of social media, fashion consciously annexed itself from things that were overly political. Most companies tried to keep their stances on social and political issues on the fence. Earlier in the week, when I saw Nike’s 30th anniversary ad starring Colin Kaepernick, I wasn’t entirely shocked by it even though it was a remarkable piece of advertising. Instead, I found myself saddened at the reality that the brands and companies we tend to support are somewhat inclined to lag behind trying to relate to their consumer bases. It is good to see brands positioning themselves smartly, even though it is for profit. However, I think capitalism can help in more than one way when it comes to social good to a certain extent and if not, at least it helps to raise awareness over key issues.
Up until September 13, Kaepernick’s social presence was said to deliver approximately $7.6 million in terms of earned media. From the extremely moved to the people choosing to boycott Nike, the ad struck a chord and whether good or bad everyone seemed to be talking about it. Perhaps not everyone will rush down to the nearest sports store to purchase new Nike gear (even though I have now sworn to only buy Nike because of this ad), but it creates a stronger brand image. And in an over-saturated market where consumers are spoilt for choice, it is clever to keep your brand’s name at the tip of your potential consumer’s tongue.
However, in addition to that, as consumers, sometimes I think we forget the power we hold when it comes to demanding better practices and effective corporate social responsibility strategies from businesses. Perhaps we think that our voices are too few, but we must reflect on the fact that our business helps companies to sustain themselves.
Rarely have I seen local boutiques jumping behind any social issue or cause with the exception of Pieces and Things which recently launched ‘My Sister’s Keeper,’ a bursary award initiative for those who are heading back to school. It is not at the same magnitude as the Nike ad obviously, but it is a conscious action that helps to change the way we see businesses.
Like Nike said, Just do it!