Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dan Neil, on Wine for Douchebags

I never thought we would be revisiting the head-scratching phenomenon of Ed Hardy and his T-shirts, but LA Times automotive-critic-slash-business-columnist Dan Neil has resurrected the specter of the Ed Hardy brandemic. From "Ed Hardy wines? Christian Audigier's branding machine grinds on":

...perhaps no brand hookup makes less sense to me than Ed Hardy -- a tattoo-themed street wear imprint of fashion megalomaniac Christian Audigier -- and wine. Yet there it was at my local Whole Foods, stacked in orderly end-cap pyramids. [...]

In 2004, [fashion designer Christian] Audigier scored a licensing agreement with tattoo and graphics artist Don Ed Hardy, a Bay Area legend in ink, and soon Ed Hardy graphic designs began appearing on, well, everything: T-shirts, hoodies, purses and perfume, socks and sunglasses, barware and bedding, swimwear and underwear. The brand has pretty much exploded. [...]

To be honest, I wouldn't be caught dead in Ed Hardy. For one thing, there is a huge metaphorical hole in this brand, which trades on the committed authenticity and street-level edginess of Don Ed Hardy's skin art to sell overpriced T-shirts to kids at the mall. Hermes it's not.

Audigier has saturated the market to the extent that now Ed Hardy stands for trend slavery at its most vacant-eyed and autonomic.

Great! Pretty much lines up with what I wrote in January:

Tattoos were intended for your skin. But now you can wear a T-shirt with a tattoo design silk-screened onto it, making temporary tattoos seem like a long-term commitment in comparison. It's edgy! Except not!

This is just the latest step in the co-opting of what once was outlaw culture. Permanence has been bastardized into transience, corrupting the original spirit of the art form.

But Neil acknowledges the genius of transience behind the Ed Hardy moneymaking machine:

Audigier is building, slowly and frighteningly, a 360-degree brand bubble for his clientele, an immersive ecology of labeled merchandise, an off-the-rack psyche. And in an age where a cool, ephemeral brand means everything and nothing, that's brilliant.

What's distressing is that such a vacuous trend is proliferating in dire economic times. Aren't we supposed to be cutting back on crap like this? Hasn't the subprime mortgage crisis taught us to value what's below the surface?

Guess not. Cheers!


Thanks to SoSG reader Nims for the following link:

#124 Hating People Who Wear Ed Hardy (Stuff White People Like)

It's funny because it's true! You know what's even funnier? Finding this link:

Audigier sued over trademarked clothing line (AP/San Jose Mercury News):

LOS ANGELES—Clothing designer Christian Audigier is being sued by tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy for allegedly distributing Hardy's trademarked clothing line without permission.

Hardy filed a lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking $100 million in damages from Audigier's company Nervous Tattoo and several other defendants.

Hardy claims he and Audigier signed a contract in September 2005 that allowed Audigier to promote and distribute Hardy's work as part of a clothing line.

The lawsuit claims Hardy terminated the contract in August after discovering Audigier did not fully pay royalties to Hardy and underreported the sales and income from the clothing line. Hardy also claims Audigier launched a competing product—the Christian Audigier clothing line—using Hardy's trademarks without permission.

The lawsuit said Audigier has not stopped distributing Hardy's work and claims the contract is still in effect. Hardy wants the court to order Audigier to stop distributing his trademarked work and award damages.

Uh-oh, trouble in douchebag paradise!


Neeebs (The Original) said...

So I take it you don't like Ed Hardy Designs?

Orel said...

Not a fan, Neeebs. Not a fan.

Ryan said...

Ed Hardy is one fashion season (or poor endorsement) away from gowing the way of Von Dutch. Horribly douchy brand for yuppie scum. Want to really impress me? Tattoo that shirt to your skin. Color and all. Not a fan of the brand.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Fashion, notwithstanding, you gotta love the bank that these guys made in the marketing phenomenon known as EH.

If the $$$$$$$ were rolling into Orel's account, he may have a different take on this thing.

I applaud the marketing madness, but deny ever owning a EH brand.

Orel said...

It's true, Neeebs. If I were profiting handsomely from sales of Ed Hardy merchandise, my viewpoint would be decidedly different. I'm only human!

Nims said...

I gather all of these Dodgers fans are white people?


Not that I'm not. I'm just saying.

Steve Sax said...

I try not to wear my Ed Hardy stuff around Orel.

I hide my Hardy Boys books, too, just to be safe.

NicJ said...

tommy lasorda says if you drink ed hardy wine you cant get into heaven. Be on the safe side and drink lasorda wine.

Orel said...

Great link, Nims. Post updated.

Sax, I thought you were more of a Nancy Drew type?

karina said...

As some of you might know, i'm very interested in fashion and i gotta say i hate with passion those shirts, i mean: you don't have a tattoo or even worse, you have one or several tattoos and yet you decide to wear a shirt with a poorly designed vintage tattoo with an ugly chromatic scheme, so you can look "edgy, young and dangerous". That's beyond hipster, it's fake hipster for the clueless middle-upper middle mainstream or the gang member wannabe-poser. (Sorry Steve and Eric).
I'd rather see some guy wearing converse and a t-shirt with an obscure 80's/90's pop reference, at least you prove you bother to be interested in something remotely interesting.
Seeing Ethier and my son Martin wearing those hideous shirts break my heart, they can do much better than that.
Again, what do i know? i'm just a girl who wore today head to toe black, with leggins, booties and rimmed glasses with a nude large bag. Disclaimer: most of the time, i just talk about what people wear if i like it.
This was your guest fashion police at SoSG. Did you miss it?

NicJ said...

i stopped reading Nancy Drew after The Mysterious Case of Two Outs At Home.

i still get shit from my friend who is an angels fan about that.

then i remind him drew is on the red sox now, and helps boot the angels out of the playoffs every year.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

I'd LOVE a piece of that litigation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Orel said...

I welcome the return of the Fashion Police!