Too Much Heritage (Profits Aint Bad!)


Blog trolling this morning, I hit a interesting post by Mittleman over on Honeyee. His latest post entitled “New Blank Document” runs between being thankful for a fulfilling career and brief reflection on where street wear is currently; asking a few open ended questions about progression in the scene. The normal really.

Here are two of the questions Paul poses to the reader in his post, both of which are very deserving of pause: “Has the market place become so harmonized and conservative that only validated product sells?” and “What happened too fun, style and the individual?”

Or another way of presenting the first question respectfully: ‘Is legacy and heritage with its validated products of time past, a cause for null and stall in innovative goods entering the domestic market?’

Looking directly within the hype culture of the USA, I would say fuck yes.

The re-purposing and re-branding of street culture’s domestic past has lead to direct profitability for companies producing goods for this market. I’m not arguing if they should or should not be allowed to profit on their pasts. Clearly its their shit and they can do whatever they want with it. My argument and the one that I think Paul may be onto as well is that this is causing for a slow down in presenting the market with the “new.”

We’re talking homage to heritage; the bread and butter formula for not only selling new printed matter but also as a backbone for re-engaging an audience of deceased brands that have recognize the value of their former goods on the after-markets, like thrift stores, and clearinghouses like ‘The Garment District’ in Cambridge, MA.

Without going as far as accusing the past of probable cause (shit, we all know you cannot change the past), we can at least assume that brands and their license holders, recognize that their back-catalogs live in the memories of most. For those too young to remember, the legacy in old MTV Youtube clips and ancient scanned magazine clippings help keep the dream alive.

Once validated, twice the profits.

In the footwear world, it is particularly clear that validated heritage is the first step to take for any campaign working to re-activate brand awareness. All the majors are trolling their archives and catalogs (in some cases scraping the bottom of the barrels) to bring heritage relevant forms back to the market. Some other players, who for years have battles with top shelf execs for the right to bring back the classics, make their play on heritage look like over-congestion. Some even sense that certain products of heritage should have remained in the past and forgotten.

My co-hort Nick loves to talk about the “cultural association” of product in the market. The connection to bygones of the past or moments in history that meant something to one or many. But what risk is taken in going back this far to re-discover what maybe should have remained undiscovered.

As Cynthia Dunn in Linklater’s epic “Dazed and Confused” put it, “I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor, insignificant preamble to something’ else. “

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