Latest Brand Obsession – Baldwin Denim

The number of brands we interact with on a daily basis seems to be growing every day.  A professor at Brandcenter recently asked us to record all the brands we engaged with for just one day.  The highest number recorded was somewhere around 130 brands.  It’s no surprise that world-class organizations like Coca-Cola, Levi’s and Nike are out there doing great work and capturing our attention almost everywhere we go.  These types of organizations are the gold standard as far as branding goes.  With that said, one of the things I have truly enjoyed doing since I have been studying brands is finding those with a much softer voice but still connect with me in a very positive way.  Sometimes it’s the product that captures my attention, other times it may be the general aesthetic or story of the brand.

This time it happens to be all of the above.

I was recently introduced to a menswear shop in Kansas City called Baldwin Denim.  They offer a wide range of clothing for both men and women but specialize in high quality, raw selvedge denim.  I’ve seen all the expensive designer jeans that have been bedazzled, embroidered, and adorned with just about every other tacky decoration one could think of and these are not those jeans.  Baldwin represents quality premium denim sewn in the USA and designed in KC.  They are simple, masculine and I plan to wear them as long as my mid-section will allow.  I’m not worried about them wearing out and they embody that classic design that only looks better with age.

Heres a shot of their flagship store in Kansas City

I know everyone has their own style and this may not appeal to everyone but I’m a huge fan of Baldwin.  Even if you were to take the clothes out of the picture, the vibe of the store is spot on with me.  Love all the wood and matte metals.  Somewhat industrial but still so refined.  I love to see the emergence of high quality men’s boutiques that not only cater to men but are built and run by them.

The denim looks almost as good on as it does on the shelf 🙂

One of the things that I really love about raw selvedge denim is how they wear in.  When you pick these up in the store they are going to be dark, stiff and you should buy them very tight.  As you wear them they will loosen up and form to your body.  They will also create a completely unique color wash depending on how you wear them, so no two people will have the same wash.

New vs. 6 months wear (still without wash)

Tell me these don’t look fantastic worn in!

These don’t come cheap but as far as I’m concerned a pair of Baldwin denim is worth the investment.

Each wrinkle and spot rubbed of dye tells a story.  Each stain a memory.

After time has passed these are no longer pants, but an heirloom that can be cherished.

Baldwin denim is another great small brand that has their identity pegged and is doing a bang up job.

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packaging

I’m a sucker for great product packaging.  Probably because I spent the better part of 2 years working on the packaging team at General Mills and attended more packaging related conferences and forums than I care to admit.  I was even asked to speak as a panel member at one conference alongside such industry giants as Starbucks and Smurfit-Stone.  I digress.  As a result of the countless hours I spent researching and critiquing boxes and other product vessels, I have become what we in the biz lovingly refer to as a packaging nerd.  I pay far too much attention to packaging and when I see something I like I can’t help but sing its praises.

Too often packaging is written off as nothing more than a container for the real product.  This type of thinking is shallow and fails to capitalize on a great opportunity to reinforce brand essence and offer the consumer an unexpected delight.  Believe it or not, brand loyalty isn’t built by offering a good product alone.  It is earned through a series of personal connections that articulate not only product excellence but confidence in brand identity and willingness to go the extra mile.  The devil is in the details and consumers can always tell those that are making the effort and those that are faking it.

One of my favorite kinds of packaging is the unexpected kind.  This leads me to the recent find that really sparked my interest.  How often have we all received our monthly magazine subscription with name sticker slapped on haphazardly and thoroughly beat up by the postal gauntlet it has just run?  I know I have.  Well enter Creative Future.  A new publication and art project that features some of the industry’s most innovative designers.  The goal was to create a finely crafted publication that not only featured art and design but was a work of art in itself.

Mission accomplished.

I am sure the magazine is amazing although I have to say I’ve never read it.  What I do know is that instead of just dropping this thing in the mail, the brilliant designers at Creative Future found a way to both protect the publication and add another element of design that reinforces the pedigree of the brand.  Plus, who doesn’t like to open a package?!

Check it out:

So perfect.  I love the brown paper and twine tied up in a bow.  Its the perfect blend of simplicity, utility, and rugged elegance.  I also love how the white wrap adds an additional aesthetic layer that also serves the purpose providing a quick glimpse of the contents.

I would almost hate to open it.

If I ever have a business peddling products of some sort you better believe the packaging will look a lot like this.

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Playing with type again.  Great line from Hemingway.

Photo Credit: Jay Carroll

Vinyl

Been thinking a lot lately about picking up a record player and starting a record collection.  No doubt the digital age has made music much more accessible and far more convenient.  But there is something about the vinyl, the spinning record, the scratch of the needle as its dropped into place.  Its all very organic.  Very raw.  And in my mind’s eye it seems like the best way to unwind and listen to music.  Assuming you really want to listen.

Any advice from those still listening to records?

Which albums seem to be made just for vinyl?

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Ford T Bird

So much better than the current Ford T Bird.

 

Saatchi & Saatchi

Saatchi & Saatchi recently opened a new office space in Bangkok Thailand and it looks really cool.  One of the big perks in my mind of working for ad agencies are the incredibly creative spaces available to work in.  It would be hard not to find inspiration working in an office like this.  Very cool.

 

 

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Don’t Give Up The Ship

I’ve been trying to improve my skills using Adobe Creative Suite lately and spent some time playing around.  I read the quote a few weeks prior and really liked it and thought it went well with this photo from surf photographer Trent Mitchell.  Aside from the photo all other design was my own.

During the War of 1812 Captain James Lawrence led a crew aboard the Chesapeake into battle with a more seasoned ship more experienced by nearly 7 years.  It was a bloody defeat for the US Navy that lasted only 15 minutes.  Before reaching their ultimate demise, Lawrence ‘s shouted out his final command to the crew:

“Don’t give up the ship!”

This last spoken command became a battle cry among the American fleet throughout the remained of the war.

I hope this will be the first of many more projects like this in the future.

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Star Power

No doubt I’m a huge fan of Nike and the great advertising content they are so well know for.  I recently caught a glimpse of the new campaign promoting the new Kobe shoe.  I have to say I’m a fan.  Not of Kobe, but I did like the commercials.  My heart will always bleed purple and orange for the Phoenix Suns so naturally I hate the Lakers.  With that said, Nike again finds a way to entertain, promote, and in some way show a very likable side to a few controversial celebs.  I think I may even lump Mr. Bryant into that category.  Really excellent use of start power in this campaign and I am sure this will prove what we have known all along – America loves to what athletes and musicians “act.”  Aziz in obviously great in these but I’ve been into him for years. Even before Parks & Rec.

Great writing in these spots.  Its funny to me how humor can be used to sell almost anything!  There is certainly a fine line between really smart creative humor and the “elbow to the ribs” kind of funny but Nike does a bang up job here in my opinion.  A few of my favorite lines from that last video:

“While I don’t understand most of anything Kobe is talking about…I want to.”

“What if I did stand-up in a Volcano?”

“I bought a planet.”

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