"The Brand Underground"...

redstockingnosis's picture


This article in the NY Times irritated the hell out of me. It's main idea is that because supposedly there is no real "mainstream-counterculture" split (oh I beg to differ...but that is another, LONG post), and because of that, when little hipsters in NYC and LA make all those overpriced boutique mini-brands , they are engaging in a valid act of cultural subversion because, according to this article and the little hipster boys , they are taking the idea of Big Corporate Branding and making it into Personal Mini-corporation Branding. The whole theory is that it is okay to have your identity and your expression be completely profit-capitalist-etc. oriented, just as long as it is unique enough. When asked how 'bohemian' or 'un-mainstream' his brand could be when priced 60 bucks a t-shirt available only at Barney's,he said the consumers who are able to pay that are "the only ones who get it" or something like that.

Perhaps i'm rather idealistic, but what happened to creating art for the sake of art? to the idea that yes, although it is nesscessary to make money to eat, that doesn't mean you swallow the whole "turn my subculture into cash while in law school blah blah" ticket? There is nothing wrong with personal style, in fact I greatly admire anyone with a truly individual sense of style, but it is the whole 'branding' inversion thing that gets to me. I know i have a bias because I am extremely averse to anything that reeks of the rampant materialist uber-capitalist hyper-competitive ethic that seems to have penetrated to every aspect of our culture. I suppose my aversion to all this would make me less hip in NYC or LA but then again from what I read in those papers and a lot of the stuff that comes out of there my similar lack of uber-credentials, earnestness, and lack of mass amounts of cash would make me just as unhip. Yeah.screw those kids. maybe i'm glad my parents couldn't afford to send me to the university in NYC I got into 5 years ago after all.
sorry about the ranting, this article was VERY obnoxious. What do you guys think about it, and the issues raised by it?


bandini's picture
Submitted by bandini on

im inclined to agree with you.
although i like the clothes, the logos, the kids look cool, the websites are fun etc etc, i thought the article made a pretty good point that although these kids aren't the 'warhols' of our generation, they still want to have that kind of fame / success / recognition. and you know what? i think they just might get it. these days its the most organised, motivated and 'marketable' kids that are defining what they are, they are writing their own write-ups. no longer do you actually need to be an original, thought provoking, highly skilled and courageous graffiti writer (ala basquiat, seen, neckface etc) to get all the recognition and props, you just need to MARKET yourself better to the kids who know no better. they dont know that you bit your style. and they dont care. they want in. they want to buy their way in. i think in the long run both parties will come off looking stupid: the kids who sell the emporers new clothes and the kids who buy them.
or maybe im wrong. its those who win the war that write the history, and in 5 years time when these 'indie labels' have become corporate colostomy bags, they'll be the ones writing the definitions of what subversive is, what counter-culture is, what whatever is in order to suit their needs.
i see this sort of thing happening, but then again i could be wrong because that a-ron guy looks like a dude and he's probably not like the ring-peices im talking about here.
still, even though i like some of the brands, & some of the people look cool, everytime i look at 'the hundreds' blog i feel like puking.
most of these fashion kids are just dicks.
maybe the nyt article was just about the very very very very rare phenomenon of there being a couple of kids doing stuff that AREN'T dicks.