Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brands that signal a mid-life or mid-wife crisis

Hey! It's my birthday today. Won't tell my age, as it would involve too many disclaimers to the effect that a) not over the hill; b) not on life support c) still have hair d) the list goes on!

But birthdays often produce opportunity for reality checks and this morning was no exception when I opened my presents. All items of clothing, but they all told a story. Most significantly, they raised questions about brand affinity as one slips through the gears, but hopefully not down the stairs, towards the inevitable.

So here's the items and what they say about where I'm at in life:

A hoody by The Hurley Movement. The thing to know here is that I love surf gear, even though I might look a bit sad in some of it these days. But, driven by that knowledge, my wife and mother-in-law (!) ventured into a surf shop to seek out some wardrobe enhancements. These are people disconcerted by a series of ripples in Port Phillip Bay. Even surfing the internet is a scary proposition.

My reaction to the reveal - ecstasy! That was until my wife started to question what The Hurley Movement might be. Was it indeed an ecstasy-fuelled culture? Did wearing it mean I had to buy paint in spray cans? Did we have to put a 44 gallon drum in the back garden, light a fire in it and hang out a la East LA?

I thought it might be related to Liz Hurley and the way she moved in 'that dress' long before Hugh Grant's brief sojourn into a bit of 'street culture'. I checked it out on the internet. To my alarm, the brand seems to have no cult or even culture. No mention of Liz. A bland rather than brand association. But it makes my wife edgy and it looks kinda cool. Maybe I'll become a hoody cult figure!

Board shorts by Rusty. Rusty made his name in breakthrough surfboard design, then branched out into clothes. I like that. Here's a brand with a history and therefore some real cred. My wife thinks the boardies are a bit too over the top for me. That's great too. It shows I still have the mongrel in me (non-Aussie readers translate as 'rebel').

Gazman long sleeve casual shirt. It's actually not a bad shirt. Gazman is an Aussie brand my wife thinks suits me. Some of it does, but I see other 50-year-olds wearing it and I'm not sure I emotionally belong in that space. Nonetheless, it looks pretty good and there's no Gazman label on the outside to give anything away (what happened to the 80s when we wore out clothes inside-out?).

All in all, a a pretty successful morning, with a marginal victory for my refusal to accept I am no longer the fantasy of the women getting sprayed in Coppertone oil on Surfers Paradise Beach. Or was that my fantasy? Earlier in life, I admit I did cop too much Queensland sun. Perhaps it fried my brain as well.

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