Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Here We Go Again

Ms. New Beauty likes to consider herself a pretty tough cookie. She's a city girl at heart, so she knows how to navigate the world with a healthy dose of realism mixed with a little bit of worst case scenario. So, she tries not to be surprised at people's antics. But some things never cease to amaze her. Chief among them are business and luxury professionals who publicly speak of their disdain and distaste for their customers. First, Tommy Hilfiger got it hit with that Oprah show rumor, but we soon learned that was untrue. And, yet despite all the outrage and lingering beliefs among some that Tommy was guilty of such an offense, for some reason, Francois Rouzaud felt perfectly comfortable opening up to The Economist about his real feelings about his champagne, Cristal, being the bubbly of choice among hip hop's elite. Well he got what he wanted because Ms. New Beauty has not seen a bottle of Cristal available at any of the nightclubs or lounges she's been to since that controversy erupted. And now, Francois Girbaud, purveyor or designer denim, has added payed his initiation fees and joined "The International Brotherhood of I'll Take Your Money but Still Not Like You Buying My Product."

Sacré Bleu Jean? Denim Legend François Girbaud N’est Pas Pumped About His Company’s Hip-Hop Image

This article was published in the July 29, 2007, edition of The New York Observer.

On Monday, July 23, the French designer François Girbaud hosted a party celebrating his new line of denim clothing, called Le Jean, in the Marithé and François Girbaud Showroom, which occupies the 9th floor of a building on 10th Avenue and 36th Street. The crowd, overwhelmingly comprised of fashionably dressed African-Americans in their mid-20’s, seemed blissfully unaware that their host has apparently been less than thrilled about their devotion to the brand.

“Somewhere, the company was running too much in some direction, too much in hip-hop stuff,” Mr. Girbaud, 62, told the Transom (perhaps taking a page from the playbook of a compatriot who last year expressed disdainful befuddlement toward rappers’ loyalty to the Champagne label Cristal). He was wearing a black-collared shirt over baggy black jeans, which were adorned with a single drooping silver chain that smacked against his knee as he strode through the streamlined space. “To be just connected in the hip-hop stuff is other brand; there is people like Russell Simmons or Damon Dash or Puff Daddy or all this kind. I’m not the rap people. Sure, we introduced the baggy jeans, we introduced stonewashed and all this stuff in the 60’s or 70’s, I never target just to be ethnic. It’s stupid.”

. . .

“It’s really boring, non?” he said of the current denim market. “It’s just the same. I walk through projects today, and it’s the same five-pocket jeans. It’s not giving so much possibility to young generation to express themselves.”

When it comes to his own self-expression, Mr. Girbaud seems to think that the exigencies of marketing are cramping his style. “I have to talk like that”—he flashed a gang hand-sign—“and speak like that”—he flashed another gang hand-sign—“and move like that”—he grabbed his crotch—“and it’s ridiculous!” Now he was shouting. “What we bring into the market was always innovative, and I feel now I am trapped and I have to just talk the same way, like I have to have skulls and some kind of snakes. It’s boring, it’s really boring!”

. . .

Truthfully, I haven't worn a stitch of Girbaud clothing since the fifth grade, but if I ever had an itch to purchase some, this article has officially scratched it.


Save your money, don't reward businesses that don't respect you, and remember that Ms. New Beauty told you!

5 Comments:

Anonymous said...

The interview took place at a launch party for a new line “Le Jean de Francois and Marithe Girbaud” That line is designed for a broader segment than the current Girbaud line which is sold in the U.S. and is proudly a “street brand”. I interpreted his comments as meaning noyt every Afican American consumer has to wear “hip hop” clothes. Maybe they would appreciate a line which is more sophisticated, more contemporary, more unique. Seems like a pretty enlightened view to me!

Ms. New Beauty said...

You're certainly entitled to your own opinion and interpretation, but I'm not impressed. Flashing "gang" signs and grabbing his crotch does not seem to me that Mr. Girbaud appreciates the loyalty of his core client base. The world is free to wear his clothes but I prefer not to support companies that make fun of me.

Anonymous said...

Somebody PLEASE tell the bearded frog to go back from whence he came. There are far toomany other denim brands to chose from without being insulted.

yummy411 said...

f.g. could have been saying that he didn't want to stream line his denim only to the hip hop community, (@ the 1st anon) he also wasn't speaking proudly of the fact that he does have a line that flourishes among that culture/community. he said it in negative way, as if his clothes line took a wrong turn and now he has to save his brand and leave the rapper clothes to people like russel simmons, etc. thanks mnb for making us aware.

JeanQueen said...

I really don't think that if he really felt that way about the so- called "hip hop influence" he would even bother being invloved in designing the brand. My impression is that he's just looking continue expanding and not limiting himself to a certain market. Besides, the article says that he basically invented the baggy jean and it's obviously been goood to him (since 1964)so why mess with a good thing? he's right, everyone is doing "hip hop clothing" so if he wants to stay in business he's got to keep looking for the next big thing which doesn't necessarily mean that he wants us to stop buying his stuff. I love it it fits great can't wait to see the new stuff...

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