Friday, 7 January 2011

Heritage is so forward looking.

Last November leaders of the worlds fashion industry met at the Intercontinental Hotel Park Lane. This annual conference looks forward to the next big thing in the industry. So what do you think the likes of Paul Smith, Karl Lagerfeld, Tommy Hilfiger, Patrizio di Marco,  CEO of Gucci, Angela Ahrendts, CEO, Burberry and the rest were there to discuss?

Entitled Heritage Luxury, the conference "explored how luxury brands are created, nurtured and maintained. It addressed the need to sustain founding principals or create a heritage, while adapting to consumers’ changing habits and connecting with them through traditional and digital channels." Does that sound backward looking?

If you wanted to sell this leather belt for £395 how would you brand it?

Contemporary? How about calling it "Heritage Natural Cowhide Leather Belt" "This casual belt in natural cowhide leather is a tribute to Louis Vuitton's craftsmanship."

Here are Lee Cooper launching a heritage brand.

And for more in how forward looking Heritage branding is I shall quote from the branding blog

The Importance of Brand Heritage

I'm calling out British marketers today. They have a lot to learn about the importance of provenance, heritage and history.
May was undoubtedly marketing's month for nostalgia. M&S ran triumphant three-day penny bazaars to honour its 125-year anniversary; meanwhile, Sainsbury's out-heritaged its rival, with its 140-year celebrations capped by a beautiful ad from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.
In addition, NestlĂ© relaunched the Milky Bar Kid with a montage of half a century of uneasy blond, bespectacled children reading lines to camera. Persil and Virgin Atlantic also climbed onto the retro brand wagon with their own heritage campaigns. Meanwhile, Hovis announced this month that its 'Go on lad' campaign had grabbed a 3.5% increase in market share and added £60m to the top-line of the business.
This trend is surprising, given that one of British marketing's biggest weaknesses is its Anglo-Saxon disregard for history and provenance.

The rest of the blog post is good reading.

Some folk think forward looking craftspeople are "contemporary" whilst traditional or heritage craftspeople are backward looking. Try googling "heritage brand" followed by "contemporary brand" and see which throws up the worlds leading forward looking luxery businesses.

The Heritage Crafts Association is far from backward looking. Today our 2000th friend joined the facebook group. Which is the place for regular updates and links to interesting craft stuff on the internet. To put this in context the Crafts Council are at 918 and American Crafts Council 1804 both of whom have paid staff, IT departments and years of accumulated mailing lists. Folks are signing up every day and it is growing rapidly, who says "Heritage" is backward looking.

As an aside today I spent the day filming  for a pop video for a young punk band the King Blues, I love challenging the perception that traditional craft is backward, it is of yesterday but it is also of today and very much of tomorrow. If you work in or just love craft and want to be part of the most forward looking, exciting, happening organisation then join the Heritage Crafts Association.


  1. To be honest I find both words - "heritage" and "contemporary" - equally unappealing as they are so over-used in this business of branding. It seems that everything has to be classified as one or the other! Personally, I would rather just have craft without any qualifiers.

  2. To be honest Cally I am with you on that one but for 25 years we have had a Government funded agency promoting "contemporary innovative" crafts and everything that fell outside their remit has had no support. HCA was set up to address that issue only after many years campaigning for all crafts to be supported by a single agency.

  3. I completely agree that all need support, and congratulate you on the campaigning work that you do - and using this blog to highlight wonderfully skilled craftspeople. It is shameful that glib marketing phrases drive government funding - but that's not unique to crafts, alas.