Is this shoe polarizing?
Taylor Tomassi Hill and a team of experienced fashion players have started a new company called The Yes. When she reached out to us to see if we want to be a part of it, we gladly signed on.
The Yes is like a product focussed Tinder, or the much earlier (and less actionable) Hot or Not. You are showed pictures of products and you choose either “Yes” or “No.” Meanwhile an algorithm learns from your preferences like Tiktok and begins to show you more relevant stuff.
The idea is to make online shopping fun, to drive discovery of products, and new brands like ours. At the end of the month they send data on the performance of each product listed. How many people saw your products, how many voted yes, how many voted no.
It surprised us to find our Kitty Loafer frequently dismissed. Our best selling style from fall was officially our most ratioed product.
We started wondering: are loafers right now something big which the old guard resists, them being too close to the poor taste of an era just ending?
We never thought that. By my estimate we are a couple of years into a loafer thing. But if there is still resistance to loafers, does this mean the loafer thing still has more years of life in it?
I think so. And you’ll see that from us this Spring.
THE CONTRARIAN TASTE CYCLE
For most, fashion is a pejorative describing materialism and transience. For me it describes something deeper, and more social.
Preferences, tastes, are not static. They are in fact very dynamic, and very often falsified. The finance bros who ridiculed skinny jeans in 2006 were probably the last people wearing them.
What is bad becomes good again, in a modified, updated form. The very badness of the thing becomes it’s mark of distinction for a new audience. The intrepid trend-setter looks for something slightly bad to champion. Their championing of the bad thing makes them appear distinct and different. Their distinction becomes a model for others. First, the slightly less adventurous. Then, the more conservative, then sometimes a critical mass.
At some point, the early champions move on; either into some new paradigm of badness (for extreme contrarians), or into some sanded-down maturity more conducive to adult functioning (contrarians drive people crazy). It’s almost always the very young driving this cycle.
The above could be called the contrarian taste cycle. There are other taste cycles in play, but the contrarian taste cycle may be the most distilled and powerful for the simple reason that it produces the most against-the-grain and therefor noticeable trends.
What all of these trend cycles would seem to share in common is the need to change, to move on. You can call this restlessness or personal growth. Either way, the impulse is seemingly primal, and it's not going away.
FASHION IS LINDY AND GOOD
Some brands (err... blands) act as if the fashion cycle is something which could or should be disrupted, or ended. As if we will arrive at a final form, pleasing to all. They tend to sell the residue of what stuck during the previous trend cycle (think common projects).
We think it is naive to think oneself—one’s clothes, or one’s brand—above fashion.
It is the designer's job to anticipate and feel these shifts in culture and to reflect this in their offering. It is more art than science. When you get it right it's like a hit song. It just works.
Because this process is so important, a designer is important. That's why we're Labucq (a portmanteau of my first and last name) rather than “Normal Shoes” (which was on the table until very late).
We want our customers to connect with us, to be on this journey with us, through time, through the winds of trends and change. We don't want to get stuck.
We're not shooting for the bleeding edge of the contrarian trend cycle. I’m just not there in my life right now. But I’m not mad our shoes are a little bit polarizing.
So are these loafers a “Yes”?