One of the first times I came across Norse Projects was when I started my job. I’d not really heard too much about them as a brand but I was looking into competitors and getting more familiar with the menswear market. I instantly fell in love with the brand.
What struck me initially was their imagery. I think the first set of imagery I saw for them was AW10. it was a series of fantastic photographs of outdoors scenes and what I liked best was that it wasn’t trying to sell me product so obviously.
With a lot of campaign shoots it seems the primary aim is to pile in the key pieces and layer up as much as possible. Be commercial, drive ATV and all that other retail BS. You end up with images that are choc full of product in the hope that there’ll be something for everyone and appeal to the masses.
I’m not talking about lookbooks. Their lookbooks are fairly standard, just like a lot of other menswear companies, you have to fill the lookbook with product and that’s fine. I’m talking about their campaign imagery that is going to be the face of the brand for the next 6 months. It’ll be on the website, in ads and used by blogs and stockists.
Norse Projects campaign imagery is brilliant because it sets the scene for the collection and allows the customer to make their mind up about clothes as a separate entity, but only after they have been subject to the imagery brand exercise.
I like the look of going for a walk along that pebbled beach. It looks like a cold, crisp day but they’re warm in their Norse Projects coats. I wish I was good at photography so I could take a fantastic picture like that. I wish I could wear Norse Projects, they like similar things to me, they like cool things, their clothing is practical and timeless, it’s well designed, there are other values there besides consumerism behind this brand. They don’t even care if they sell any clothes otherwise why wouldn’t they put product in their images?! They just want to run their business the way they want, with the values they care about. I like this brand.
Then before I know it I’m sold! I’ll have an entry point 5-panel cap for my boyfriend please because that’s all I can afford. Thank you. Thank you Norse Projects for your fantastic imagery that sets the scene for your brand and then gives me an inferiority complex after I leave your website. I mean who am I kidding, I haven’t been on a long rural walk for some time, I haven’t the patience for photography or to make the values and interests of this brand my own. I am a bad person hijacking the values of the brand to make them merely appear my own. By wearing a jumper or a jacket from Norse Projects I am saying to others- ‘I’m wholesome, patient, anti consumerist consumer, I value good design and will invest in the items I love.’ I feel slightly guilty. But then it’s fine, I mean if people want to think that I have those values because I align myself with this brand then I guess I’ll let them. And if they don’t, we’ll I still have an aesthetically beautiful and wearable item at the end of it all.
From a slightly more objective and rational perspective I think that Norse Project’s imagery is also great because when you’re on their website homepage it immediately gives a sort of Scandinavian feeling starkness to the page. It also makes it easy to manage the page as there aren’t going to be boxes and text floating over the faces of haplessly over-layered models which will need hours of playing around with. I also love the sort of slide show aspect of their home page where there are 3 items on rotation as it’s not often you will stay on a home page long enough to see the change but it makes the site feel fresh and updates the next time that you visit even if it is within the same season and the imagery hasn’t changed.
I hope that Norse Projects continue to pull it out the bag season after season and that they don’t fuck too much with this formula that I think really works for them (it’s been a while since a few brand images have elicited such a profound emotional, albeit very irrational, response in me). On the other hand I hope they can keep it fresh feeling enough that the idea doesn’t stagnate and start looking a bit tired. They have, at least for me, managed to be commercial by not being commercial, they have effectively ‘broken the rules’ and, in my book, come out on top.