The Payless Experiment

American discount footwear brand Payless and British market stall brand, Georgio Peviani have independently and collectively caused a global buzz within the fashion industry in the last few years. Both brands carried out social experiments on the most influential individuals in fashion and as a result they successfully challenged today’s image-conscious fashion influencer culture. In these days of tough competition, brands take different approaches to promoting themselves and some are perhaps more transparent than others.

At last year’s Paris Fashion Week, VICE UK writer Oobah Butler adopted the persona of Georgio Peviani – a denim designer he discovered on London’s market stalls – and worked his way up through the French fashion crowd. He scammed his way into private viewings and exclusive parties and got himself featured on the blogs and social media feeds of some of the leading fashion influencers in the world. By the end of the week, everyone wanted to get a taste of Georgio Peviani. Though endorsed by the likes of Alexa Chung and French designer, Veronique Leroy, the whole collection is available to buy on just about any market stall in London and each piece costs no more than thirty quid.

When speaking about his experiment, Oobah stated: “Google the name of this apparently Italian man and you’ll find page after page of his denim jeans. But he doesn’t exist, obviously. He’s absolutely a knock-off. Whatever: people are buying his stuff, nonetheless. He has a brand in his own right and is doing everything a designer should do. Apart from existing. There’s a void where he should be. I’m going to fill that void: become Georgio Peviani and help him fulfil his potential, by becoming the toast of an industry fake enough to be deceived by a fake man.”

Like the explosive rise of Georgio Peviani at PFW, American discount footwear company Payless Shoesource carried out a similar social experiment earlier this year as part of an ad campaign that subsequently went viral. The company, in a brilliant marketing stunt, created a fake designer brand called ‘Palessi’ and opened a fake pop-up store in L.A to sell their affordable shoes at unaffordable prices to fashionistas. They pranked these VIP shoppers into paying markups of up to 1,800 percent for the bargain retailer’s shoes as part of the campaign designed to shift consumers’ perceptions of the brand. The influencers paid up to $645 for shoes that usually retail for between $19.99 and $39.99, the company said. The fashion insiders were captured on camera, remarking on the high quality of the shoes, before being told who had made them. After being told the truth, the embarrassed influencers were given their money back and were offered the shoes for free.

As a take away, I whole-heartedly respect the motivation behind these two stunts; however, GLOW takes a different approach. It relies on the quality of its products and the ethical sourcing used to create them, in order to build its brand. For example, the people that make GLOW’s products work in London and the company ensures that they are paid the London Living Wage.

Brand transparency is an innate part of the culture of GLOW – it is what it says on the tin.


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