*notcot in design , 01:27

Howies?- 04.17.06

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[Guest article by RUGenius - its a good read - she asks the right questions] Howie’s, “environmentally conscious casual clothing and sportswear designed for bikers, skateboarders and snowboarders”, is a nice, wholesome, eco-friendly brand. In fact, they remind me of Oregon. But they also make my head hurt. I mean, are we seeing innovation and honesty here or a slick exploitation of our desire for simplicity by some cackling marketing agent? I implore you, fellow notcot readers…help me think through this one. [Fun images below…]

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Let’s start with the positives. The imagery is unmistakable and the photographs are unquestionably beautiful. It expresses freedom, truth, simplicity…its enough to lift the spirits and want you to flee the city forever. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but you get the idea. I especially love this wallpaper.

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Recently, I’ve had many long conversations about the costs and consumption of society…everything you do involves consumption. You want to meet up with friends so you go to the pub for a drink, or out to dinner, or maybe to a movie, or coffee. Why are you doing this? All you really want is to see your friends, and exchange some meaningful conversation…maybe impart some grave newfound truth or confess some carnal desire. Yet you have to spend just to interact. And most of the time you interact you talk about crap anyway…like consumables: music, movies, food. Why do we need excuses to connect? That’s a rant in itself…back to the ® bit.

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Other things I love about Howie’s…their think section. Raising awareness is always good and they do so across a number of issues. But in addition to the usual stuff, they have some original ideas. My particular faves are the library (some seriously hot reads in there), art, geeksville and the pages on cars and trees. They try to raise consciousness about environmental issues and raise questions about the way we live our lives…perhaps not “waaaaaay deeeep,” but admirable nevertheless.

On the other hand…there’s something suspiciously clean about it all. I’m the first to admit, I’ve had my Marxist moments and have definitely felt the call for revolution. But this is shockingly UNrevolutionary…particularly graphically. I love the “clean” look…it helps with the whole purity and freedom angle…but doesn’t action, doesn’t revolution have to be a bit dirty? A little bit of stubborn rebellion? There are no fighting words here. It strikes me as almost too peaceful and too mellow. And they’re selling stuff. Not that you’re not allowed to sell stuff (which notcot describes as “if american eagle - was going for a jcrew crowd”. It’s hard to tell whether all of the “ideas” are just there to market the products, or whether the ideas/community came first. What we see now is a snapshot in time…is this an ideal community of honest earthdwellers with a conscience or the face of some slick marketing scheme? Or perhaps the brand is exploiting the community to generate the ideological side. I’m drowning here. And I can’t decide whether to love or hate these guys. Thoughts? For clues, read the “about us” section…it just left me more bewildered. Dude, the rocking chair test? Come on guys…I can totally see some marketing guru sitting in a posh orthopedic office chair laughing his ass off saying, “and those fuckin’ hippie wanna be kids are gonna lap up every last word! Kaching!”. Well, Howies®, this fish hasn’t bitten yet…I’m still doing the taste test.

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2 Notes

yes, that’s exactly the problem. how can we judge? i didnt mean to be unduly harsh or skeptical. but for some reason, this company raised that issue for me…and i think its worth a good think. how can we avoid being duped without hurting the honest green retailers? any cheater detection systems for this one?

----- rugenius 17.04.06 06:40

For me this bigger issue is whether the costs (environmental and monetary) justify shipping the stuff across the Atlantic from Wales to Canada. That said I like their stuff and enjoy their catalogue.

The question I would put back to you is this: what would it take for them to “prove” themselves to you? What is your green retailer litmus test?

----- Glen Hunter 17.04.06 05:56

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