This may seem like a strange thing too say but what I mean is that David understands the needs he is fulfilling.
Much of the fashion industry ignores the older guy, even though he is likely to have more money, more self awareness and – because he is less inclined to be worried about what people think of him – a more adventurous approach to style too.
When I worked as a brand consultant, the advice that I gave most people most often was:
“It is better to be different than it is to be better.”
This is true for brands. Consumers expect a certain level of quality of course. But beyond the delivery of important benefits – they value individuality and the ability to express themselves as individuals much, much more.
This is also amongst the best advice I have given myself, too. In life.
From time to time we all worry about not being good enough. And we shouldn’t really because, I’ll say it again, I think it’s better to be different than it is to be better.
And the best way we can be different is simply by being our unique selves.
Morrissey isn’t the best singer. Jarvis Cocker? Not really. Madonna’s first mainstream success was with ‘Holiday’ in early 1984 and whilst Madonna is a good singer, few would say she’s a great singer.
Better versus Different
I think it’s better to be different.
It’s more natural, because I see different as simply the most adventurous, authentic and brave version of who you already are.
We know these people already, too.
It’s not people like Lewis Hamilton. For him we might say:
Wow. I wish I was that good.
It’s people like Boy George maybe. A talent, of course. But an outlier too. For him we might say:
When I started Always Wear Red I spent over a year researching. I’m still researching of course. But in the early months it was pretty intense.
This is not like me. I am more right brain than left. I live in the world of the possible rather than the world of the probable. I don’t like research.
However on this occasion, with a lot at stake, I researched intensely. My sense of adventure was as honed as ever but I wanted a degree of surety. I wanted to learn from those that had gone before me.
Two small quotes from two big names stick in my memory.
One from Paul Smith, that made me feel a bit sick.
One from Tom Ford, that made me feel a bit scared.
Both quotes started with an absolute – ‘no one’.
Paul Smith is one of the most successful British fashion designers ever. He has a personal net worth of around £350 million. His business remains privately owned.
When I was researching Paul, I had just closed two multi-award winning creative businesses and I was buoyed by new possibilities. I was confident. I thought that if I can do it ‘there’ I can do it ‘here’ too.
Then I came across something that Paul Smith says quite a lot:
No one cares how good you used to be.
That was a bit of a shocker. Paul was talking about how he stays consistent and focused in a world that craves innovation and excellence constantly.
“Hmm,” I thought. “I’d better get ever better”.
Tom Ford was Creative Director at Gucci and YSL before setting up his own label. Tom is now worth $300 million. I am about to quote him but can’t find where I first read this.
Even if I imagined it it’s still useful:
No one ‘needs’ anything that we have ever created.
Explaining why something is better is a waste of time. Why someone ‘needs’ it. This is trying to prove how you fulfil a need better than the next woman or man. In the world of luxury clothing this doesn’t work.
No one gives a shit about ‘better’.
Tom Ford knows that and so do I. I am determined to change how a man feels about himself and the way he sees his world when he chooses to wear the AWR collections. I create confidence for them; in them.
I sometimes spend too much time over-explaining why we are a better product (we are). When I should be talking about the fact that AWR things make you a better you.
That, after all, is our purpose.
Paul and Tom
So, Paul reminded me that it is important to never rest on your laurels. And Tom taught me that your brand has to be valued and really loved, not just known.
Maybe there’s something for you there too?
Paul Smith Video (available at the 50odd.co.uk website):