I often wonder what makes the word ‘alternative’ signify coolness instead of its actual meaning; a different possibility or something unconventional. Some of us seem to be drawn towards that which is not mainstream or well known, purely as a clear indicator of quality. Perhaps we are asserting some sort of individuality by identifying with things that no one else would dare identify with. Obscure food, foreign films, and “underground” music are things I greatly enjoy, yet I am well aware that I am sadly not particularly special in my tastes and preferences, because countless other people enjoy the same bands and films that I do. Maybe the alternative is not so alternative after all then, as what starts off as underground, ends up gaining a huge following and generates much wealth and business.
In fact, this is a widely accepted assertion, seen through countless internet memes which have appeared as a form of self-satire, playing on the idea of a cool alternative culture which claims to hold rights to certain “qualities”. For example, take a look at the following captions circling the web:
Yet, I do believe that there is something intrinsically valuable in our shared “alternative” culture, in that it seeks to introduce difference and variety into our lives.
Alternative businesses, for example, are often more inclined to pursue ethical dealings which work as an added selling point for the alternate. It is true that for newcomers to succeed in the marketplace and generate wealth in this economic climate, they require something truly unique and original. Due to my fascination around this topic, I sought to discover how and why people go into developing these alternative businesses.
I met with Chris Narey, the founder of Secret Store, an online fashion shop which was set up only a few months ago, and offers a variety of shirts and jumpers, all of which carry prints designed by artists.
According to Chris the idea for Secret Store came about in a strive towards exclusivity (I think we all recognise how Topshop muscled its way into the alternative market and effectively covertly caused mass conformity disguised as the unique). This premise led Secret Store to its next logical step; seeking out artists and illustrators in order to provide a potentially endless stream of creativity and exclusivity.
The store has proven a big hit across London open markets, and in a way much more constructive than those tasks on The Apprentice. Chris explains that the store creates a symbiotic relationship between art and business as both parties rely on each other. Secret Store collaborates with artists and offers them a platform for showcasing and highlighting their work by offering their designs to the public, while the store’s USP remains intact with access to continuous exclusive material. Designs range from purple king heads, a deceased key and statements on gender and society.
Chris also explains that the material for the shirts and jumpers are ethically sourced as the store adheres to a fair trade policy. In this way the store seems to focus on a synergy between production, design and retail, in which all parties involved benefit. Whether the designs are to your liking or not, and whether you think that there is something not quite right about seeking out exclusivity for the sake of it, such initiatives come as a breath of fresh air in our society of cold, uncaring business, or at the very least provides us with a tad more variety to help our lives seem that little bit more interesting.
Photo Credits: http://www.secret-store.co.uk/product/abracadabra
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.