By Caroline Brown
Last Wednesday night, in London, was the first celebration of Hermès pop-up shops, themed after their slogan “J’aime Mon Carré.” The two other pop-up shops are due to open later this year in Toronto and Tokyo.
Even though the store wasn’t scheduled to open until the next day, the east side of Arnold Circus was buzzing with youthful praise and laughter.
The three rooms inside were filled with men and women in their twenties and early thirties, who came from within the London art industry. The attendees were drinking champagne and were dressed to the nines. It seemed the most prevalent style was glamour-grunge, although everyone managed to add their own personal touch to it.
In the first room, the walls were decorated with Polaroid-inspired posters of girls in Hermès scarves, suited to their individual bohemian eclectic fashion sense. Authentic scarves were also used as a décor; some even reincarnated themselves as a May Day pole.
In the second room, a film of young guys and girls wearing Hermès scarves, venturing around London and, of course, loving life, was projected onto two walls.
Despite the décor and the free champagne, the guests themselves were the real spotlight. Every fashion enthusiast who came to the event was revamping the IT trends in a new inspiring way. They made me realize that I couldn’t help but dream about being among the young visionaries, trendsetters and future leaders who will influence the art community a great deal in the years to come.
One thing that bothered me throughout the night though was that I couldn’t understand what Hermès’ objective was behind their new marketing mix. Their creation of pop-up shops, a mini ad magazine and a website, all devoted solely to one product – their scarves – spun up the curiosity inside me.
Was this all for repositioning Hermès and its scarves in the minds of a younger market?
This curious question perplexed me and I also kept wondering about the demographic of the guests. It was a group of around 200 people, all young, all ambitious and, probably, all earning an income close to the poverty line.
A Hermès scarf costs anywhere between $245 and $350. That could be close to nearly half of their rent.
So why does Hermès want this customer? This question wasn’t just spinning around in my mind, but also in the mind of my fellow blogger, Candice Lake. Her take on the issue was that Hermès is attempting to re-brand, making the label popular amongst that age demographic – just as Burberry had done a couple of years ago.
Now, although this is a tempting thought, and I also happen to not be very familiar with Burberry’s past marketing decisions, I couldn’t help but wonder if Hermès was trying to weave with more than just one colour thread.
Why are they injecting this one specific product into the minds of youthful visionaries of the art industries? Is it in hopes of a fashion epidemic, such as the hush puppies one that infected downtown Manhattan club goers in the early 90s? Are they throwing three parties in three areas around the world to re-launch their brand? Are they using the fashionable youth from North America, Europe and Asia as their connectors? Lastly, why was Toronto chosen instead of New York – is it because the youth of New York no longer have any power over the rest of the continent? The youth of New York’s caricature is that they are wild, arty risk-takers, who live a completely different life than the rest of us poor unfortunate souls. Or maybe, instead, Hermès wants to get Canada involved, not only because it is a country that has long been deprived of fashion’s spotlight, but also because Hermès truly wants to influence a wider audience.
Whatever point of actions Hermès is trying to take, it is the recycling of these ideas into an innovative marketing scheme that will inspire the fashion industry as a whole.
And if it doesn’t? Who cares, it was one hell of a party!
Toronto’s “J’aime Mon Carré” celebration takes place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5. For more information, click here.
Caroline Brown is a fashion blogger based in London, UK. Her blog can be found at http://fromsampletostaple.wordpress.com/