Underground Brands : The Rise Of The Designer Capitalist?
NY Magazine carries a very important look at the activity and motivations of counter-culture capitalists in the US called 'The Brand Underground'. While we think author Rob walker is a tad too romantic when he suggests that modern bohemians are actually underground hustlers like aNYthing's A-Ron who are making dollars from sales of items created by their wry neo-brands (fueled by the internet); there is a huge amount of insight about modern entrepreneurs and tomorrow's business world.
And guys like A-Ron are supposed to know that better than anybody. Which is why the supposed counterculture nature of his brand might arouse some suspicion. Manufactured commodities are an artistic medium? Branding is a form of personal expression? Indie businesses are a means of dropping out? Turning your lifestyle into a business is rebellious?
And yet thousands and thousands of young people who are turned off by the world of shopping malls and Wal-Marts and who can’t bear the thought of a 9-to-5 job are pursuing a path similar to A-Ron’s. Some design furniture and housewares or leverage do-it-yourself-craft skills into businesses or simply convert their consumer taste into blog-enabled trend-spotting careers. Some make toys, paint sneakers or open gallerylike boutiques that specialize in the offerings of product-artists. Many of them clearly see what they are doing as not only noncorporate but also somehow anticorporate: making statements against the materialistic mainstream — but doing it with different forms of materialism. In other words, they see products and brands as viable forms of creative expression.