It's only shallow people who do not Judge the world by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. Oscar Wiled, The Picture of Dorian Gray. This quotation by one of the greatest writer and 'thinker' of the twentieth century nicely illustrates the topic which is going to be discussed in this paper; the notions that underlie and has triggered the enormous international success and which at the same time threatens such popularity of Cheap Monday the Swedish fashion brand.
Cheap Monday had probably made its widest international depute on the 19th of September, 2007 when Serene van deer Wooden portrayed by Blake Lively was arriving at Grand Central station in the sitcom Gossip Girl. However, the intention is not to discuss the warily chosen wardrobe of Serenade's character in the show, rather to draw upon the long Journey Cheap Monday had made from being a brand fetishist by Swedish Indies elevated to a global pop-phenomena.
However, I believe the initial intention of the founding fathers Anderson, Adam Freebies and Lease Carlson was something apart from the values that are to be associated with the previously mentioned soap-opera. The tight denim the initial product behind the brand Cheap Monday premiered in 2004 on the shelves of the Weekend store specializing on second-hand and designer pieces. The concept of the store was meant to cater designer leisure wear at affordable prices, yet there was a gap in the product line of Jeans.
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Cheap Monday was created in order to fill this gap and at the same time fill a gap on the dimension of symbolism in relation to self-formation by consumption Cheap Monday specialized on manufacturing tightly fitted Jeans, but their assortment had been broadened and today the worshippers are able to dress head to toe in CM by rearing shoes, shirts, Jeans all carrying the same the renowned logo of the skull. The initial success of the brand was triggered by Dam's effort to sell high quality merchandise at a low price.
In comparison to other designer denim the Jeans are quite affordable even allowing purchase on a Monday after a heavy spending weekend. Great importance should be given to the context in which they have introduced the brand, namely the Weekend store later called Weekday. The audience of the boutique was mainly the trendy young Stockholders who continuously strives to fraternity themselves from the mainstream. Typically they would go on fashion hunts for vintage and second-hand clothes and will Jump over the moon to find hidden treasures embodied by less well know original brands like the emerging Cheap Monday.
Yet it was not only the good price that attracted the self and environment conscious and said to be tolerant young enlightened Stockholders, I believe it was more the meanings that were soon to be attached to the brand. This perception is well supported by John Deacon's argument in Consuming Behavior: Economical Monday Marketing Strategy By OTOH go with the brand are Just as important. 'The key to branding is not that the brand mark bears some form of natural relation to that which it signifies, but rather that an association is built up between the brand mark and what it is supposed to signify in the mind of the customer.
The role of advertising is to build and to maintain this association. ' The attributes associated with the so called 'Indies lifestyle' was soon attached to the meaning underlying Cheap Monday, while the scarcity-factor catcalled its exclusivity. These two characters purported each other so well, that Cheap Monday soon embarked on the international express of underground fashion to become a global phenomenon. The postmodernist view on the self emphasizes consumption as relative to the symbolic meanings of products.
Elliott and Withstanding summarizes as follows: 'material possessions have a profound symbolic significance for their owners, as well as or other people and the symbolic meanings of our belongings are an integral feature of expressing our own identity and perceiving the identity of others' (Elliott and Withstand, 1998). By making decisions during consumption and having preferences in relation to brands consumers constantly highlight their individual freedom and make a statement with the actual act of purchasing (Elliott and Withstand, 1998).
Having had the opportunity to search the web for information on Cheap Monday I have gained the knowledge of online Cheap Monday communities (Faceable for instance), where people with the same common interest and values can meet to share and maintain the symbolic meanings relating the brand while creating a platform for discussion, or dialogue similar to the old cafe souses that were the melting pot of intellectual challenges in Baudelaire Paris. The importance of these platforms is indubitable as it is elaborately discussed in more detail: 'In order for the meaning of brands to become fully concrete, the mediated meaning derived from advertising and promotion must be negotiated with the lived experience of purchase and usage, and particularly for brands with social-symbolic positioning strategies these meanings must be validated through discursive elaboration in a social context' (Elliott and Withstand, 1998). Apparently, the worshipers of Cheap Monday had made the brand so big that it soon attracted the Swedish fashion colossus H.
In the spring of 2008 HEM acquired 60% of shares in Cheap Monday. The fashion cannibal, the embodiment of mainstream ate the small independent Fabric Scandinavian the company behind CM. The fact that CM is taken over by HEM, even though retaining its freedom as a stand-alone subsidiary, this acquisition is seen as decreasing the exclusivity and believed to mainstream the brand. The initial supporters of CM feel deluded, since for them clothes at H is a big no-go. By such fusion the brand might Jeopardize the initial symbolism.
Such attitude had already been articulated on the online community platforms like blobs or Faceable, yet the language use would be inappropriate in this context, thus I provide the link instead. It is interesting to see how easy a comparison can be drawn in relation to Thompson and Arises article on Cutbacks. A parallel can be the article while HEM can be perceived similar to Cutbacks as a global 'Goliath bent on world domination' of fashion .
Globalization is very much tied to standardization and homogeneity something that is detested by the hard core followers of CM, resulting in losing the initial value of the brand. I believe that the appearance of Cheap Monday on the sitcom Gossip Girl which very much forms the fashion taste of teenagers is not necessarily seen as positive by the original audience of CM. The globalization and the sitcom appearance might result in additional meanings like superficiality and standardization. Attributes that are so far apart from what Indies wish to be associated with when wearing Cheap Monday denims.
They might need to search for new brands in order to distinguish themselves in tune with the ideals they believe in, echoing the famous quote of Oscar Wiled we are all aware of the fact that we "Judge the world by appearances". However, it should also be noted that without the initial worshippers or the cult created intentionally or unintentionally neither the appearance on Gossip Girl nor the acquisition of H would have happened thus is it really ethical to protest against the natural cycle of business and marketing.
- Thompson, C. J. & Arise, Z. 2004, "The Cutbacks Appearances and Consumers
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