Fashion advertising is an arena that, over the past few years, has evolved into an artistic entity of its own. As brands seek to consolidate and communicate a message that extends beyond the clothes they are putting onto the rails, those at the top of their game have eschewed traditional handbag shots and replaced them with montages that speak to a broader picture of lifestyle luxury – and Jamie Hawkesworth is often the man responsible.
In a market saturated with disposable imagery, it seems as though sustained success is coming from advertising with aesthetic longevity. Earlier this week in The Washington Post, Sarah Halzack noted that, in spite of an ever-expanding post-recession luxury market, flashy, logo-heavy glamour is no longer in Vogue – a trend that is seeing profits fall for megabrands like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton while those of their smaller counterparts (like Loewe and Miu Miu, also featuring Hawkesworth-shot campaigns) rise. "These are [brands] that really control the supply, and therefore they manipulate the market and the desire for their products,” explains luxury marketer Thomai Serdari – and, with the release of Gucci's new campaign video and imagery this week, which has Glen Luchford documenting a softly intimate, Wes Anderson-style shoot and short film, it is clear that the big brands are paying attention.
One of the labels that is tapping into this idea of editorial-style lifestyle messaging is new American brand Trademark, whose S/S15 campaign was shot by Jamie Hawkesworth on a trip to India. "We were always fans of Jamie's early work, particularly his series taken at a bus station in Preston," explained founders Pookie and Louise Burch. "The images felt like documentary photography which was something we were both drawn to. We wanted to shoot the images for Trademark in the same vein so it felt natural."
Sending Hawkesworth off with a suitcase of clothing resulted in a series of images that look as much like someone's (brilliant) holiday photographs as clothing advertisements, just as his shots for Loewe's accessories collaboration with John Allen are like family snapshots or his A/W15 Miu Miu campaign like an insight into a (very chic) schoolgirl's life. In this new spirit of lifestyle shots, brands are paying to place advertising in magazines, and some of the pages that they buy don't even end up featuring clothes.
"Brands are paying to place advertising in magazines, and some of the pages that they buy don't even end up featuring clothes"
When a new label like Trademark makes a statement like, "The focus wasn’t on the clothing" about a (presumably fairly high-budget) campaign, it is clear that there is a shift in direction for those with the savvy to really listen to consumers: and consumers are buying into more than just ostentatiously trend-led pieces, but into an entire aesthetic. Jamie Hawkesworth presents relatable yet aspirational scenarios – an artfully-arranged pencil pot, a beautiful statue observed on holiday in India – and the occasional garment or bag just fits alongside. This is the new era of brand identity – one that extends beyond seasonal pieces – and it is one that seems to be selling.