Introduction: What is “Authenticity”?
We hear the word “authenticity” thrown around all the time these days. But what does it really mean? I’m not sure if we can agree on a single definition, but for me, authenticity is about upholding your values and beliefs in a way that feels honest and purposeful. It makes me excited to see you proudly carry your luggage down the street, so I know it’s your style, not just an aesthetic choice. That’s how I define authenticity—a sense that you are the person you want people to see. It’s a mix of passion and pride. It’s what we all want in this world: genuine interest from others. And it’s hard to come by, which is why we value it so much when we do see it.
Authenticity is the most important quality that I can think of in a person. It’s certainly no guarantee of quality, but without authenticity you have nothing. There’s so much artifice and phoniness in fashion. I hate all that stuff. I don’t believe in it or like it at all. In order to be attracted by authenticity, you first have to believe that it’s there in the first place. And I think most people want to get close to something because they want to feel a connection with it, not look away from it.
Authentic Brands and Its Effect on Commes Des Garçons
So what does this have to do with COMME des GARÇONS? Well, everything. From the beginning, I wanted the brand to be authentic and human, just like me. I didn’t want it to be too high-end or uptight like other fashion houses. Early on, I pushed for a slightly lower pricing structure than most of the other fashion brands in Paris (at least back then). I wanted the garments to have a more casual but still elegant feel, despite their quality. And I wanted them to be unique, like myself. I liked the idea of making a small batch of garments and selling them only in Tokyo boutiques. At first, when the shop was relocating to what we now call “Commes des Garçons”, it was called “Garçons”. It had nothing to do with boys. Later, upon reading a French phrase book, I learned the meaning of “garçon” which is a slang for boy. The name stuck in my mind and helped me create this new brand.
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The Rise of the “Gamer Culture” and its Impact on Fashion Marketing Strategies
Today, the gaming industry holds a huge influence over the general public. It’s not just about the games themselves; it’s about the culture that surrounds them. People who play video games are being accepted as mainstream, and they aren’t being stereotyped anymore. To build on this trend, COMME des GARÇONS has been creating collections inspired by retro video games and arcade machines for many seasons now, but I never thought of it as actual marketing strategy—more like an homage to my younger years. (I’m not very good at marketing, but I always seem to be on trend!)
The idea was sparked by the brand’s Creative Director Rei Kawakubo, who is a huge fan of video games. She was looking for an interesting outlet for her creativity and video games seemed the most relevant, because COMME des GARÇONS has always been about experimenting with new ways of expression. A marriage between fashion and gaming seemed like a natural progression.
The Importance of Authenticity in Fashion Marketing Today
The fashion industry today is in flux. We’ve seen it evolve many times before and now, like it or not, the trends come and go quickly. As a result, the biggest brands are more interested in “what’s in at the moment” than “authenticity.” They want to create collections similar to trends that already exist instead of innovating and changing their lines just as things change around them. This change is reflected in how consumers look at brands today. It’s why so many people care more about the sustainable and ethical aspects of companies they give their money to.
Shoppers want to know that the brands they invest in are genuine and of the highest quality. But there’s only one way to gain that kind of trust, and it has to be earned. Today, we’re going to break down the reasons why authenticity is key in marketing fashion today, but let’s start with a quick look back.
The History of Authenticity in Fashion Marketing:
Authenticity has been a major part of fashion marketing since its inception. The reason is that brands, especially luxury brands, are constantly being judged on their ability to deliver all of the different aspects of what we need from them.
In general, consumers live in a world where there are many different sellers that offer all types of products. However, only a few brands can be trusted for every aspect of our lives and hence, we choose to only invest in the few brands that we feel have our best interests at heart. They’re the ones we choose to stand behind with our time, energy, money and loyalty.