Collusion: the story of a generation?

Collusion: the story of a generation?



Last week, ASOS launched a new clothing label for Gen-Z with a clear focus on inclusion. The range is ethically sourced, animal-free, gender-fluid and caters for a greater number of sizes than most. Perhaps most interestingly (for us anyway) is that Collusion was created in partnership with six young creatives including: a student, a stylist, an activist, an image-maker, an author, and a YouTuber – each with their own online influence and diverse following. And the brand’s values, aesthetic, and creative direction were created by London-based agency, Uncommon.

Partnering with target market influencers to shape a product launch isn’t new (Boots’ brand ‘Your Good Skin’ is a prime example) but the combination of those audience members and the agency in this instance is huge, and it shows in what they’ve produced.

The hero film to launch the collection is not an ad. It’s a Vice-like documentary feature bursting with attitude. It intersperses beautifully crafted shots with mobile snippets and Skype calls, all with the feel of a friend capturing an occasion on a phone. Some lines border on the contrived “listen to us”, “I want to live my life my own way”, but dialogue like “I like to live life on the edge, but… with a harness” pull it back and wonderfully encapsulate the attitude and vulnerability of a teenager in the modern age.

Following the call to action to the website, it’s quick to see that there’s an enormous amount of content here. ASOS has reportedly been reducing its marketing spend in 2018, focusing on the creation of engaging content through Instagram stories and its owned platforms like the app and website. This is particularly clear when you ‘Meet the 100’; a collection of 100 different individuals from across the UK, born in the year 2000, answering a simple question; “What do you wish for, in the year you come of age?”. Each profile sits on its own page with custom photography and a vertical video; a nice design decision reflecting Gen Z’s social platforms of choice in Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

I personally really like the design. It’s clean in the colours and choice of typeface, and the photography is beautiful, but crucially, it’s all quite untraditional in its arrangement (particularly in film). This certainly isn’t the first example of such an approach. In fact, this orchestrated messiness has surfaced in pop culture numerous times in the last couple of years, but reflects the attitude of the whole brand.

As Per Pederson, Global Creative Chairman of Grey, said during his excellent Cannes talk this year “The future is for the rule breakers” – “Stop doing ads that look like ads”. A five-minute documentary-like film, and case study of 100 different people across the UK doesn’t feel like conventional advertising to me.

The wide range of people and cultures shown throughout are what make this work stand out to me. This is less an attempt at showcasing diversity than accurate representation, and early social media activity would suggest they’ve succeeded.

Cards on the table, I was born a decade earlier than the target audience, and I’ve been wearing t-shirts and jeans since the age of 5, so maybe I’m out of touch. What do you think? Is this representative of Generation Z? Could this even encourage a shift towards better representation within the fashion industry as a whole? We shall see.

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