Monday, November 13, 2006

Soiled Jeans and Mucky Shoes

I'm inspired by the news to hold a story contest. The details are at the end of this entry, but first, the background:

Last July I wrote about designer jeans, the ones that are "factory distressed." I thought it was insane to charge people extra for jeans that looked like they were already worn by someone who worked for a living.

I suggested marketing jeans soiled by bikers who had put them through the sort of treatment that only bikers can, and then selling the biker abuse as a premium: "These jeans were worn by a Hell's Angel through a grueling ordeal of beatings, vomitings, defacations, and urinations. Though they've been professionally cleaned, they still bear the soul of true biker dungarees." You could charge thousands for that.

My point was that the story we tell about products (or art or people) may be more important than the products themselves. I read about an amazing example of this in the Times last week: Some London cobblers are selling shoes made from leather salvaged from a ship sunk in the eighteenth century:
The leather is pre-Revolutionary Russian reindeer hide and is said by its owners to have wonderful qualities of wear, luster and aroma. The shoes made from it are strikingly beautiful, notable for their rich mid-brown color and cross-hatching applied by the hands of Russian tanners in the 18th century. But however exceptional the leather is, it comes with what is for many a more appealing feature: an intriguing history.

The leather was recovered from a Danish brigantine that went down in a storm more than 200 years ago off the coast of Plymouth, England. The ship, the Catherina von Flensburg, was bound for Genoa from St. Petersburg, its cargo destined for Italian artisans, when it sank in December 1786.
What better story could you tell about a pair of shoes? The ship was full of hides which were preserved by the black mud of the Plymouth Sound off the English coast. A salvage team recovered some of the hides in 1973. Prince Charles got the first pair of bespoke shoes. There's still some leather left, both undersea and in the cobblers' shops.

In the spirit of great marketing, I propose a story contest. He or she who can come up with the best line of bullshit to sell a product wins a prize. Here are the rules:

1. Come up with a product.

2. Make up a tremendous story about the product along the lines of jeans pre-distressed by bikers or shoes made from 18th century Russian leather preserved by muck. Be creative.

3. Use the comment box to tell me your story. Keep the stories under 200 words.

4. The deadline is December 1.

5. The prize is $20. The best stories will be posted online.


Anonymous Brailee said...

Nice post!! Awesome!! I like to wear leather stuff shoes, because I use them as a formal wear and casual wear both.

2:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Site Meter