Pair up with print
Because serious denim heads value an authentic look and feel over mass production, some brands are turning to print to tell their artisanal stories. “Print can be effective when the pieces are highly unique, special or well-crafted,” Stephens says. “The world certainly doesn’t need another quarter-page ad or flyer, but beautifully designed things are timeless.”
The print content from Raleigh Denim Workshop is a far cry from the bland quarter-pager Stephens eschews; the company recently started experimenting with an actual newspaper—crinkly newsprint, inky smell and all—that shares details about what the brand does and why it does it. Shoppers can pick up the newspaper in the store or receive a copy along with their online order. “It’s kind of fun to actually hold something,” Lytvinenko says.
Then there’s A.P.C., the French ready-to-wear brand known for its raw-denim jeans, which published a print book in 2017 called A.P.C. Transmission. According to the Amazon description, “Part retrospective of the brand and part personal scrapbook and visual diary, the book includes invitations, postcards, ad campaigns, images of their stores and collaborations with other designers.” Big-name media like Vogue and the New York Times have lauded the book for its design sensibility and brainy take on fashion.
A.P.C.’s book, which is filled with what GQ called “all manner of A.P.C. history, lore, design and ephemera,” offers readers the kind of rich detail they’d expect from the company’s clothing—and it costs almost $80, which only heightens the brand’s luxe feel. “It really comes down to deciding what the essence of the brand is beyond the product,” says Stephens. “What are you really selling? Is your brand about empowerment? Is it about self-confidence? Is it about sexuality? Sure, you’re selling denim, but more importantly, you’re selling an idea or feeling about the brand.”
Print can be used to sell—and to tell. In the fashion world, there are lookbooks—collections of photos meant to show off the look of their products—and there are photobooks, which some brands use to convey the story of their products.
The Japanese clothing brand Kapital, which got its name from being founded in Kojima, the “denim capital of Japan,” creates elaborate print catalog lookbooks twice a year for its collections. “They travel with the same photographer, and usually the same models and stylists, to different, random places in the world,” explains Heddels’ Shuck. “They’ve been to Iceland, Mongolia, Budapest. They tell the story of the clothes through images with these same models, and you get to see the evolution of these people and the brand. I think the book that they create for their collection every year is just as important as the collection itself.”