Everybody World – Peak Inclusion
American Apparel closes all it’s shops, and was sold to Gildan.
But that’s old news. And you've probably seen their bare bones shops looking even emptier in your area.
But there’s more that gets left behind with a brand as prolific as American Apparel. There's quality people. Clearly there was some type of soul underneath that drove it’s success. So does that soul just die with the company? No, that soul is moving on and forward, and probably never got the credit anyways.
Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo both spent over 20 years with the company. And now they've launched their latest endeavor Everybody World.
We thought, ‘we have all these resources at our fingertips, and these people are desperate for work. How can we do something that utilizes all these great manufacturers that are literally in our backyard?’”
They took it upon themselves to fill the vacuum that was created from American Apparel's demise. And that's a key point, when a brand dies, look to the ashes for the phoenix. Because it's the Phoenix that probably will come back, renewed with the lessons of yore but adapted to the new world. Which is why EveryBody World will probably solely live online.
American Apparel was the anti-experience - with their blank white stores and (ugly) minimal shelving. This worked when Brick and Mortar was king, but is antithetical to success in 2017 Brick and mortar, which is all about the experience of shopping. Step into any new Nike store or boutique and be ready to see suddenly the shop has a dedicated Barber in it.. or a coffee shop inside a la Shinola.
It's also worth noting this statement by Alonzo about a huge snakeskin pillow being one of their best sellers.
“our most outrageous and somehow most popular item so far, but it’s a really great and comfortable product."
What caught me was the "somehow" - because it shows that they're testing as they go. They launch a new product a week! It's like a youtuber testing her videos to see what sticks then doubling down. And this is the advantage of the startup fashion company instead of a giant. Forecasting in big retail is months if not years out, and they have to try and get it right through trend forecasting. Everybody ships a new product and if they see some lightening they kick it into gear.
Clearly they STAND for something. Something they no doubt learned at American Apparel. Seeing their brand reminded me of the first time I discovered Everlane and was shocked at how clear their value proposition was, drawn up in a simple illustration about how they were a "transparent" company - hitting the zeitgeist at perfect timing.
They led the movement, and Everybody World is helping to lead the next.
Transparency is still living in the background as an element of a brand that matters, but today it's about inclusion.
And I don't believe we've reached "Peak Inclusion" just yet. As brands, we get opportunities to choose elements of our personality that showcase our values. These elements get brought into the mission, positioning, and marketing as a way to signal to communities. Everything brands do and say relay signals to their tribe about who they are and how they behave and if they are with you on your journey. The best way to amplify your signal and make it powerful is to align it to be sync'd up with the culture (or sub-culture).
So EveryBody World, even the name, is a clear signal being put out about a stance they are taking. That we won't stop until it's everybody's world. It's for regular people, it's for the makers of the goods, it's for all. You've got Everlane which years prior signaled it's lead in the market by doubling down on transparency, by showcasing the exact cost of their clothing goods and then selling you quality products but still at a reasonable price. And then the same brand sees the wave and smartly catches it again with their brilliant 100% Human campaign.
Guys, Girls, Everyone.... let's not be blind. 2015 kicked off sweeping change in our country and how could we not expect that to translate into fashion, music, sports (Kapernick) and TV. This season it's about being inclusive and making sure everyone's got a voice. In retrospect these brand plays are incredibly obvious. 100% Human, Everybody World, the countless protest images that captured our attention have now been monetized.
Fashion is about change! And note how simple yet effective the 100% human campaign is. They didn't invent some new fashionable item, they stamped a message, the right message, on a t-shirt and everything else they sell with it.
The hard part wasn't making the shirt, the hard part was making the decision to sell it in the first place! The fear of the blowback. Should we appeal to the new and the change or appeal to what we've always appealed to?
But who do you think is behind here? The culture with it's demand for messages of inclusiveness, or legacy signals by dying brands and our politicians?
My bet is the former. Which makes me wonder why so many other fashion brands "missed it?" Why is it that J Crew didn't win first with their own 100% Human campaign? The problem they have is a conflict of interest. If you're a fashion brand targeting a high end consumer your intent is to draw a small red velvet rope around who's in the "in-crowd" and who's "out" and let the people buy their way in with their dollars. SO the problem with the signal of "everybody world" is that any brand looking to hit the upscale consumer by it's very nature doesn't want to be inclusive to all. Does this mean that the teams at those companies aren't inclusive? Of course not. This is a nuance, as of course top leaders at fashion brands are incredibly open and inclusive when it comes to race and gender. In fact in some facets they help lead the culture, just.. not through their merchandise. These brands have to take a more nuanced approach.
But for most mass consumer brands it likely comes down to the simple fact that they fear the blowback that might come with poking their audience with a signal that's off brand for who they are. Imagine Wrangler Jeans putting out "100% Human" branded denim. Not gonna happen. Although I would love to see Brett Favre in that commercial.
American Apparel never feared blowback, and it's what led to their growth. I don't think that at this time Everybody World has the desire or means to hit the scale of American Apparel. But their message is resonating and expect to see more of it.
Some signals to consider:
People over profit.
Planet over product.
And ideas instead of constraints.