+ [USED] clothing: project website here
+ the current state of the prototype can be viewed here
The project USED Clothing extends the function of clothes as storage medium by a virtual component: in a "second-hand shop", each article is provided with a RFID tag. Through RFID- and web technology, the respective owners can store and read digital information on the individual garment. Further, a "virtual library" develops e.g. to each T-shirt, into which owners can add arbitrary information and multimedia contents. Thus the "history" of each single garment can be visualized. By exaggerating the identity component, USED Clothing brings up inputs for a discussion concerning future developments within virtual communities. [Source here]
+ open source branding - idea and concept
consumers tend to choose clothes not because of their primary qualities like cloth quality, durability or even looks. mass media and social trends have shaped a market situation where products and especially clothes are bought because of their brand image. companies try (and succeed) to add a surplus value to everyday articles through brands. an effective brand transports a virtual lifestyle - and people are willing to pay for this virtual surplus value.
actually, USED clothing does the same thing ;-)
But in contrary to a classic brand image, which in fact is created through long-term corporate strategies, USED clothing provides the garment's owner himself the ability to add this virtual surplus value, according to his/her preferences. in addition, the surplus value adds up step by step with the number of (previous) owners - a classic example of the "network effect" in economics. the concept behind this process i call open source branding.
clothes have a tradition in transporting information about their owners. Fashion style is one of the first impressions we get from a new contact. USED clothing uses this effect to exaggerate this identity-transmitting component - the ID component is transformed into the garment's primary quality.
why used clothes?
when a new garment is purchased by it's owner, it can start to record it's own individual story. with more consecutive owners, the initial brand function gets "overwritten" by the owners' stories - and the garments "meta-information" finally gets vivid.
the bigger picture
the information landscape is moving towards a new scenario: the information market is no longer controlled by central broadcasters but individual broadcasts (blogs, podcasts, etc.) are on the rise. so how can companies succeed to communicate their brands (a central one-way-communication) in this environment? stronger campaigning? fuel campaigns with more money to be louder than the chaotic noise of all individual “global players” out there? Or just use this new environment as an opportunity to take brand campaigning to a new level? this brought me to the concept of open source branding:
in the concept of open source branding, each individual customer is a brand designer. he/she is given the ability to contribute to the brand's image. so the brand definition lies in the hands of the customers, therefore each customer can better identify with the brand lifestyle because of this strong individual connection. no need for superficial role models. no need for setting a stage. sun microsystems predict that the network is the computer - this might also be the next step for brand campaigns: the individual is the brand.