Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Green Is the New Black

I'm gathering some thoughts for an article on the fashionability of green. Here's some of what I thought about covering:
- history; the new greens very deliberately set out to make this so, to lose the 'sandals' image eg Bruce Sterling's Viridian Manifesto
- worries, what if it turns into a fad, if/when the media lose interest? (but lets face it the problem isnt going away)
- social; the 'ecosexual' (Wired) or mark earl's question about why all the 'interesting' young men have beards
- some positives; by analogy with AIDS movement, the big concerts, movies, celebs, bags = parade of public concern = political/corporate action
- the marketing positive takes on this; eg Prius, Howies, Muji, etc. blending eco & cool/aspiration/identity
- a split in green brands between those built on fashion/envy and those built on community/empathy (eg innocent, method)
- a model (from the book) of how to market a green thing like a fashion, eg having seasons/news/stories
- but a lot of the real progress is/will be in inconspicuous consumption eg energy supply, home insultation, car fuel type, local food
- the challenge ahead; making weird & difficult & 'sacrificing' things (eg sharing clubs) utterly normal; seeing the early hype as a phase, just as it was with digital

Very open to comments, thoughts, suggestions. i only picked it as a theme because i am always nearly asked about it when I do talks about green marketing.


Asi said...

I think that the most interesting thing to pay attention to is what will happen once the green as the new black will fade a little. the truth about fads and fashions is that they are being replaced by new fads and fashions and , as you said, the problems won't go away - what is the future for the green fad?

another point to watch is how the new cool green can affect the real issues? will people (mainstream) make the leap from Howies to Good Energy? From Anya Hindmarch’s (not a plastic) bag to cut on flying? or is this all going to remain on the somewhat artificial level of fashio garments?

Deep said...

Hi John,

The first thing that strikes me about Green as a fashionable thing is that by nature, fashion moves on and sometimes gets a bit embarrassing in hindsight. I’m thinking about expensive homeware purchases thought to improve your life and everyone else but some how gathering dust in the corner behind the microwave.

Pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio filling up his Prius are a great but I’d much rather hear him telling me that in spite of his millions, he’s up for saving a bit of cashola on the gas just like you or I would. It’s that being green as a normal smart thing to do as your blog title suggests (to me).

I see being green is similar to losing weight and losing weight is very much like being fashionable. I think a lot of it is about everyone else’s opinion in turn which feeds your own.

Wrong way around.

John Grant said...

Yes absolutely the fashionable side of green worries me on numerous levels but also I have to admit it was often impossible to get corporates behind the stuff I wanted to do five years ago & is much easier now.

My instinct is much more on the making green normal side, it seems so much more sustainable - a good way in which it can become taken for granted and partly forgotten. But I have to admit that some of those big splashy stars of today's green jamboree are helping things along

Maybe it's about a lifestage model. there was one the santa fe institute did years back about technology adoption (3 phases, hype, disappointment and universality)

The opportunity of the article is to explore it in a balanced - part sceptical, part awestruck - way...?

Anyway the editorial team at Contagious have said yes to the direction so I will have a play & share drafts & all that usual stuff

Do keep thoughts coming, it's such an interesting knotty debate

hvgill said...

John -

I agree the awareness created by the trendiness of green is great, but it risks a counter-culture reaction to say black is the new green - that we pollute because we can -- because it's a luxury.

This week, I've seen at least three very "trendy" New Yorkers carrying versions of Hindmarch's not a plastic bag design (one was home made). Despite having used cloth bags for years, the trendiness of these bags stir up an overpowering urge to switch exclusively to plastic.

Not that my experience is scientific research, but the rules of classic branding still stand. In making a green normal world, Companies looking to build a long-term green ethic/equity should make it inherent to what they do -- not make it a product feature. I think your examples of innocent and method are great.

Greenerarchy said...

Look forward to the finished article =)

Kevin said...

what about Green as the new grey?

...meaning, accepted as fact, a reality, maybe mundane at times, although with many layers, shades, complexity

grey comes from 'black and white' - ie factual, reality, it's-here-now, no point denying it (cf Liz Whatshername on Question Time on Saturday)

grey can be fashionable, too, but maybe it goes in and out of fashion, unlike black

the trouble with black is that it is unthinking, suggests, 'I'm above it all' or 'I'm from NYC' - and anyway, some people don't look good in black

grey has subtlety, takes work, everyone looks good in some shade of grey, they have to choose what is right for them

clothing analogy unravelling, maybe...

make green fashionable by all means, if that is a means to an end, cos it's more than a gesture, more than looking good