Some time ago I was reading an article about a photographer from Rotterdam, Ari Verslui, who was collaborating with a stylist, Ellie Uyttenbroek, to create a series of photos based around the similarities and differences between groups of people who had never met, but shared striking similarities in their appearance. I wanted to share this with you to demonstrate a key area of your fashion brand business that is very often overlooked, and if any attention is paid to it at all, is never really done properly.
It is one of the most key things you can do for your business and to help find people who will not only buy products, but will love and adore your creations. But first let me introduce you to the photos.
The series of photos is fascinating and have been taken throughout various cities across the world, and in every series, the distinctive differences in the choices of clothes and accessories when you look at each on separately is clear, but when you take a step back and look at the theme, the similarities jump out at you. You can’t help but see a clear inspirational theme.
This has been taken directly from the collection website, called Exactitudes:
Photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek have worked together since October 1994. Inspired by a shared interest in the striking dress codes of various social groups, they have systematically documented numerous identities over the last 20 years. Rotterdam’s heterogeneous, multicultural street scene remains a major source of inspiration for Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek, although since 1998 they have also worked in many cities abroad.
They call their series Exactitudes: a contraction of exact and attitude. By registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress code, Versluis and Uyttenbroek provide an almost scientific, anthropological record of people’s attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. The apparent contradiction between individuality and uniformity is, however, taken to such extremes in their arresting objective-looking photographic viewpoint and stylistic analysis that the artistic aspect clearly dominates the purely documentary element.
What I find the most apparent when looking at these images is that although we strive for individuality, somewhere, somehow, someone looks exactly the same because of a simple interest, viewpoint or attitude. It’s amazing that across the world, these people all attempt to express their own individual comfort and style, representing their personality through the clothes they wear. It’s clear when looking at each one. Similar items, but not exactly the same. A similar coat, tie, belt or shirt. All the individual elements that go into each outfit. A little unique quirk that is very much them. But if you put each one of these people, from one particular group, all together in a room, they would, on mass, all look the same. But I am in business of building brands, so as well as admiring these wonderful photos and fascinating idea, I’ll have to point out what this means for your brand. Take note of the colours used. Black, red and white and blue are featured on almost every picture of the Pin Ups, and if they were your target customer, wouldn’t you make sure to include a pencil skirt and white blouse? What about a camel overcoat for the Uomo Espresso group. If you decided against camel in your colour palette, you would probably be missing out on sales. As much as we don’t want to think that were are part of a larger group, we are. We can’t get away from it, and this is why research for our brands is essential.
So what important part of your business am I talking about. What one thing is it that is so important but so often neglected? If you haven’t guessed it yet. It’s customer profiles. essentially a customer profile does exactly what Ari and Ellie have done, except a customer profile goes a little further, pin pointing which group is appropriate for your product and asking specific questions from the group to find out key information, like where they shop, how they shop, what social media do the like the best…… If you’re looking at these groups and thinking “that is my target customer” then it makes sense to find them collectively and help them to enjoy a product that they want already.
How do you help them do that if you are not reaching the full potential of consumers? The answer is research, more research and a little more research…. I know this is something that designers don’t want to think about. It’s data and boring, but it is part of running a successful business. When you are ready, you can find out more on Customer Profiles by clicking HERE, but for now, I think you should just enjoy the photos and just how complex and simple they are all at once…..
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you are finding helpful information to build your fashion brand. If you find this post useful, please use the sharing buttons below to spread the word!