“Rachel Cusk and Zadie Smith have become, in effect, literary brands — once their names are removed from the context of a book’s cover and placed on a hat or a tote bag.” Terry Nguyen, New York Times.
The merch machine refuses to die. In fact, I would argue it’s only just getting started. The New York Times recently published this article on literary merch, explaining the relatively new popularity of #litcore caps (and totes and tees) that show allegiance to revered writers while telegraphing the wearer’s (perceived) intellectual superiority. The Guardian calls this “consuming culture as a performative act”, while comedian Dan Rosen simply calls it “liberal cringe” (ouch #guilty).
It’s also rampant in media, with mainstream and niche publications going all out on taste signallers. (more…)
Reading about the ubiquity of the New Yorker tote recently got me thinking about the rise of media branded merch.
The New Yorker has just expanded its merch line, allowing its cultured readership to outwardly express their taste and identity. As traditional magazine sales and ad revenues decline, reinforcing the ‘brand’ is a commercial savvy move for media titles. In a timely plot twist, it also effectively lets the reader advertise the magazine, instead of the magazine selling advertising to its readers. “The New Yorker knows that it is now a brand, that it represents a cross-section of a very specific, cultured, informed, democratic public, who knows who they are (or aspires to be) and loves to show it off,” observes NSS Magazine.
In a similar vein, the New York Times has been enjoying its elevated style status, with its logo and ad campaigns being co-opted in recent years by the likes of Etudes and Sacai as part of official collaborations. It reminded me of my 20-something year-old New York Herald Tribune tee. A riff on the cinematic classic worn by Jean Seberg in A Bout de Souffle (top), the combo of gothic nameplate typography and trusted legacy journalism seem particularly resonant right now. (You can actually buy an official copy here, among a variety of NYT-branded fare.)
*As I’m wont to do, I was diverted down a Google tunnel while researching links and found this revealing article on the LRB from 2014. The business model is most fascinating!
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: To come, NSS, New York Times
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Chiltern Firehouse is the best thing about Chiltern Street, despite the fact that it’s not even properly open yet. While London’s It people have enjoyed countless dinners over the last few months, the hotel and restaurant don’t fully open for another couple of weeks (breakfast and lunch service is due to start at the end of June).
But there are plenty of other reasons to head to this genteel pocket of London, not least its new retail focus. If you skew to the types of brands sold on Mr Porter or Tres Bien and have a Scandi ‘lagom’ attitude to getting dressed, then this is your kind of shopping street. (more…)