Since getting involved in the Communications world, I have paid more attention to the way that people brand themselves, their products and most importantly, their companies.
This section of my Blog is dedicated to various Stores and Companies across the United States that I feel have made an impact on a culture, a region of the Nation or even the world.
1. Self Edge:
About two years ago, I found a sub-culture of the fashion world that I felt I could relate too, was interested in and was full of enough information to completely consume any normal human being.
That culture was the world of Dry (Raw) Denim.
Dry Denim refers to the process, or lack of process rather, of creating jeans without putting them through harsh chemical treatments such as sandblasting and scrapping in order to achieve a certain “vintage” look. Rather, dry denim is made to be worn hard by it’s owner, used for as long as possible before the first wash, and in the end achieve a completely unique pair of jeans that reflect both the lifestyle of the wearer and the adventures that both the jeans and their owner have been a part of.
When Levi Strauss first manufactured his first “waist-overalls” in the late 1800s, he chose denim for it’s rigid and durable nature as well as it’s lack of necessary maintenance. It wasn’t really until the 70’s and 80’s that jeans really started to be put through rigid washes in order for them to become more marketable to mainstream culture.
These days, the epicenter of dry denim centers around the vintage process of weaving the fabric on vintage shuttle looms from the early 1900-1950s, creating a fabric known as “selvedge,” or “self edge,” denim. These fabrics have a clean cut edge, creating no necessity for stitching around the out-seam of the jeans. This brings about what people call the “selvedge edge” of the jeans.
The majority of the high quality pieces of selvedge denim are produced and manufactured in Japan. The Japanese have found ways to create beautifully made and beautifully flawed denim masterpieces, most of which were unavailable to United States consumers until recently.
Kiya Babzani, one of the owners of “Self Edge,” the denim “Mecca” for United States denim connoisseurs, realized the need for a store that sold these hard to find, and practically impossible to get, denim pieces here in the United States.
He has been building relationships with Japanese denim manufacturers for years, and even helps them design pieces that fill the voids that he sees in the American Market.
Recently, Kiya and 3Sixteen, an American based clothing company, teamed up to open a second Self Edge store, right in the heart of New York City. The original Self Edge location, based in San Francisco, CA, has not only successfully filled a void in the American Market, but it has proven to extend a culture, highly popular in Japan and Europe, to the United States.
Visit selfedge.com for more information about the store and to view the amazing products that they carry.
2. Toms Shoes:
Since the turn of 2009, Toms Shoes has seen a lot of positive Press and of course, increases in sales.
Some would attribute this spike to Blake Mycoskie’s AT&T commercial, or the love that Oprah has shown the company since early 2007. However, I chalk-up Toms Shoes’ success to the combination of a strong moral and civil message and the internal joy that buying a pair of Toms can bring.
Toms Shoes, started by Black Mycoskie in 2006, has always had a simple and loving mission, providing “Shoes for Tomorrow.” Not only do they offer a quality product, a slim shoe designed after the Argentinian “Alpargatas” shoe worn by native farmers, but their mission is one in a million. For every shoe they sell, they donate a pair to children in poverty stricken areas of the world.
I first came into contact with Toms Shoes in 2007, when Shoe Gypsy, a local Ft. Worth clothing boutique that I have worked in during my High School years and during my breaks from college, began to carry them.
Originally, I was not sure what I would wear them with, how comfortable they would be, or how the public would see them, however, I made the initial investment of two pairs, knowing that the Toms mission alone was a good enough reason to make the purchase.
Since falling in love with the company’s mission, their story and the shoes themselves, my entire family has become what you could call “Toms Shoes Fanatics.” My brother, an everyday Toms wearer, has at least 2 models from every season since the summer of 2007.
I think that is one of the reasons that Toms Shoes have become so popular with people in every age group. People can wear their Toms anywhere, and by doing so, they are able to show their support for the Toms mission, have an amazing product and also feel as if they are a part of the bigger picture.
Originally, they were sold primarily at small boutiques and “bohemian” retailers such as Urban Outfitters, marketed to the hip and world-conscious.
Now, Toms can be purchased as the same great boutiques that have been supporting the Toms Shoes cause for years, as well as at large, up-scale stores such as Dallas-based fashion powerhouse, Neiman-Marcus, and even Bergdorf-Goodman.
The rise in popularity of Toms has been no surprise to me, but in the end, the message and the love behind each pair of shoes has been the main selling point for the company.
People, even in difficult economic times, want to help others in any way that they can.
Toms Shoes found a way to deliver a ground-breaking product wrapped in a blanket of love and sold with a heart-felt promise. People know that when they wear their Toms, a needy child somewhere is enjoying the same luxury that many of us take for granted everyday: shoes.
This feeling of love and care is what makes people go out and buy Toms Shoes over and over again.
In the end, all we really need is “to love, and by loved in return,” and that is what Toms Shoes is delivering inside every box.