Unmasking Fashion: The French Revolution and Comic Book Heroes
“They seek him here, they seek him there Those Frenchies seek him everywhere Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That demned elusive Pimpernel” ― Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel Anonymity. Can it really exist today? Can people truly remain anonymous? I am skeptical. I feel that if you search hard enough you can find the information that you need about anyone. What has brought this to light is the recent unmasking of the head designer of Maison Martin Margiela. Business of Fashion did a piece discussing how this secrecy has been one of the main pillars to this brand and how it is one of it's biggest strengths. The Hundreds say "Maintain the Mystery." It appears that for many people in the industry they believe that withholding is more powerful than sharing. There is an allure to it. A calling to the unknown. A secret admirer, twisting off a bottle cap to see if you've won, opening a box of assorted chocolate and hoping that you don't pick the one that is filled with toothpaste. I feel I have seen some people play this secrecy game well. One of them is Supreme the brand that everyone's brand wants to be. They release products out of nowhere and it feels like they didn't even intend to. James Jebbia the founder of Supreme has a quote from an interview he did with Business of Fashion that I feel really identifies the brand, “Let me put it this way,” he adds tellingly. “We work really, really hard to make everything seem effortless.” This they do better than anyone. When their website isn't releasing new product they shut it down. Almost as if to say, " We don't need to give you anything to hold you over. We don't need to give you content, a blog, or sales. We know you'll be back" In typical cool guy fashion. That is what Supreme is to me. A bunch of cool guys standing around, seemingly doing nothing and then all of a sudden they release the most coveted products on the market. Another master of mystery is the almost household name Banksy. He is the truly the epitome of modern anonymity. The new Scarlet Pimpernel. Saying, "You don't know who I am, but I will have a website, gallery shows, and even a movie made." It seems pretty counter intuitive to value the secrecy of your identity so highly and release so much content. If you want to be a secret then do things in secrecy. He doesn't. Everything he does seems carefully calculated. That is why to me his secrecy is simply a moneymaking tool. He only keeps his identity hidden to make money. His identity is of no value to him besides that. There is no other goal to his allure than profit. So the question to answer for me is that if all of these people have made great money or success off of secrecy why would someone like me who is looking to make a brand volunteer everything? Why wouldn't I subscribe to the same ploy, why don't I use similar tricks. My answer is that I thought that secrecy and anonymity should be used and held for a greater purpose. Maybe it's because of all of my comic book heroes , and Sunday morning cartoon watching that I did in my youth (Actually I haven't stopped) but I feel that you should be only be allowed a secret identity for greater goals. You should have a secret identity when you're trying to stop the Joker from destroying Gotham, or trying the thwart the Kingpin , or saving undeserving patrons from madame guillotine during the oppressive French Revolution. Not to sell art and clothes. To be clear I am not talking about naturally private people who don't share. I am speaking about those who give minor details just to tease interest out of us. Just to get an ounce of desire from us. One of the reasons for this is because when you try to share information while keeping details hidden it makes you sound very self absorbed. How many brands and people have you seen post, "Coming soon." With some shadowy or cutoff version of their product displayed (This blood stains my hands as well...I mean I used to do that). Exhibit A Exhibit B Exibit C And to prove that even I am not immune to this. Exhibit V Why do we all do this? As if to say that what we have hidden is so great that it demands secrecy. That if we were to show you everything that we had planned it would overwhelm you. That is the problem that I have with the mysterious/anonymity thing. To me it says that I stay anonymous and in the shadows because I am so great. What I am, and what I offer is too great for the world to know. I must hide it under a bushel. I do not want that to be the message that I am sending.