Generic is a word most people wouldn't want used to describe their style. But, according to Jörgen Andersson, Uniqlo's newly appointed co-global chief marketing officer, most people's personal style is a lot more common than they'd like to admit. In fact, for multinational clothing companies, that sameness is all a part of their sales strategy.
In an interview for The Business of Fashion, Andersson breaks down why global fashion has become so vanilla. The digitization of fashion means everyone has access to the same information at the same time. Globalization means that shopping centers all over the world have the same stores. And, those stores are increasingly vertically integrated multinational corporations whose sales depend on interpreting trends for the masses — which means the products sold at, say, an H&M in Stockholm will be largely similar to those sold in São Paulo.
As a result, says Andersson, "almost everyone belongs to one of a few sub-groups of style. Take the Brooklyn style, with guys in shirts and selvedge denim and beards. Everyone in Brooklyn looks like that now." This writer's weekend trip to the Brooklyn Flea Market can attest to that. For adherents to a highly codified style, there's comfort in the generic: Dressing the same as your peers is the safest possible way to define oneself as stylish. Even normcore, the newest fashion trend (or is it an anti-trend?), defines itself in its lack of opposition to the generic.
If you're wondering whether Andersson gives his current employers a pass, that's a negatory. For Uniqlo, he says, the white-walled stores and neat, simply displayed stacks of T-shirts and rainbow-colored cashmere is "so generic that it is instantly recognizable as Uniqlo." Kind of makes us feel way less cool for constantly falling for those three-for-$10 socks. (The Business of Fashion)