Storytelling


once upon a time, in a land far far away, a very beautiful princess (or prince), lived in a perfect penthouse/cottage/mansion, and wore perfectly coordinated separates for every possible work, leisure and social occasion, and you can too.
catalogs are almost always storybooks, providing an attractive narrative to help define who there customer is, or who she(he) wants to be. to a lesser degree, most web sites effectively convey their image, and by association, the customer's, through their chosen graphics, even if the clothing isn't placed in literal settings. generally, i am disinclined to feel the appeal of the intensely happy models who populate the pages, wearing the clothing i am supposed to want to their make-believe jobs or while lounging with their make-believe friends, but i will admit that a nice minimalist site design has yielded a "bookmark" for a shop's site. a sparsely stocked boutique is a good thing (as long as they have more sizes in the back). in general, less is a lot more effective when it comes to marketing to me, but even the absence of a story is a conscious decision, and no less a tactic.
and i buy it.

what narrative do you like best? how would you respond to an entirely stark presentation, without a whiff of image implication or style direction? we're talking marketing-free (if it's possible).

18 comments:

La Belette Rouge said...

I enjoy the narrative of a catalog. I try to be aware of what it is and how I am affected by it. Some catalog lit is better than others. My favorite catalog lit comes from Kate Spade. I think I like her narrative more than her products; I rarely buy anything from her, okay there were those shoes.

coco said...

have you seen 13 going on 30? because that house really reminds me of the one at the end hahaha

editor said...

coco - i haven't seen that movie. is it a real house at the end, or a doll house like this one?

la belette rouge - can't say "she" in reference to kate spade anymore. the real she sold the company, so now it's an "it" or a "they."

La Belette Rouge said...

I stand corrected in my choice of pronouns. Feels worse to be manipulated by an "it" or a "they", than it did by a "her."

GenX Theorist said...

I love the romantic European Bohemian narrative so much - I'm a total sucker for it. And music - like those little vignettes on the Dior joillarie website with the little stories and music and just that touch of whimsy, or bringing something to life.

I have to say though, two of my favorites - Dries and Mayle, don't advertise. I mean, other than buzz advertising or whatnot. That doesn't mean they don't market though. They've both done a great job of positioning themselves as the amazing but down to earth designers who don't advertise, whether by intention or not. And their own lives are part of it, the urban chic thing...see back to romantic narrative! Eek!

jakjak said...

I, like genx theorist, go for the romantic Euro Bohemian and also I must confess, the really girly websites. Show some feathers, tatty wallpaper and a bowl of strawberries with a dress & it taps into some part of me that may be better off repressed.

Michelle said...

I tend to grow impatient with narratives, and feel like I can see through the marketing spin...I pay much more attention to the visual aesthetics of presentation.

landis smithers said...

um. . . the visual aesthetics of presentation often ARE marketing tricks too. just sayin. even the way clothes are put into a store involve intent and plans. . . there is no such thing as narrative free shopping.

editor said...

^^landis, i think it's a combination of your head still hurting from the "values" post, your jet lag from the long trip home after that grueling stop over, and my not being explicitly explicit, but i do recognize that what lures me is also a marketing strategy. if one could imagine a marketing-free market, i'm asking if that would appeal to anyone.

landis smithers said...

ah. probably right.

i'm gonna pass on this game. my whole salary/funding/shopping ability lies in the marketing rich world.

without it. . . i'm havin trouble with my mortgage. ;)

Michelle said...

Clarification: I can appreciate the aesthetics of presentation for its own sake - appreciation of the visual - without allowing myself to be manipulated by marketing ploys. That was a pretty rude response, landis. How about playing nice?

editor said...

the question is michelle, is any visual actually separate from marketing. landis' point is that it is not, and sadly he is right. if a visual appeals to you, even if it's just the color combination of sweaters stacked in a pile, someone thought long and hard about that choice, and how it would effect the customer, and encourage their interest in the item. although, now that i reread what you wrote, if you mean that you can thing "pretty" and not buy and not want to buy, then yeah, that is a definite way to appreciate without being fully seduced. i guess i do that too. yay, a fun way to safely (;p) enjoy all the loveliness that's out there! thanks for pointing that out.
as for landis, i really enjoy his participation and he's welcome to be as honest as he wants to be, like everyone else.

Michelle said...

I'm fine with honesty - but incivility, IMHO, is unwelcoming. Quite frankly, I felt that what I wrote was being attacked rather than responded to.

editor said...

^^no way, no attacks here.
landis has another perspective, that's all.

for all guests of this blog, if ever there is a problem or post that is upsetting in anyway, you're welcome to email me about it privately - my address is posted on this blog.

a. said...

"what narrative do you like best? how would you respond to an entirely stark presentation, without a whiff of image implication or style direction? we're talking marketing-free (if it's possible)."

this to me is like the question of style in architecture, where there is no "no style". just like there is no "no marketing". every so often i love a minimalist aesthetic in catalogs - APC (the equivalent, say, of clean-lined modern architecture) comes to mind, back when they didn't have models, just the clothes laid out or on hanging on a rack. but that is just as much an aesthetic (and therefore marketable/marketing) as anthropologie (whose catalogs i love too, loathe as i am to admit it). in architecture, the modernists wanted to think they were doing away with pretense and aesthetics, but as evident in the fetishization of 1950s moderne, that just wasn't the case.

i guess it just depends upon what i'm in the mood for. if i've had a bit too much of anthro, APC can be like a palate cleanser, and vice versa. when it comes to figuring out what i actually want to wear... oh, gosh well that gets back to the question of what gets worn/what gets to the bottom of the closet. the neverending question.

editor said...

a. i definitely go from one extreme to another as well. for this reason, i would rather that apc stay far far to one side and leave out the models. i like the architecture allusion.

this one guy said...

i like the narrative in catalogs, and minimalism in person (and on the interweb).

editor said...

this one guy - i like that distinction. that sounds about right.