If Above+Beyond did The Apprentice

Lord Sugar is back with a new group of candidates

It’s that time of year again. Evenings draw in, winter coats are dusted off, and our favourite north London wheeler-dealer nobility returns to the Beeb, setting a collection of young, hungry candidates a series of tasks designed to stretch their commercial capabilities.

This year also saw the return of Above+Beyond’s very own CEO Zaid Al-Zaidy, who you can catch here holding forth on the various shortcomings of both teams on The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

With Zaid delivering a review of the teams’ performances replete with, shall we say, constructive criticism, we at A+B wouldn’t be worth our collective salt were we not to have a crack at launching a Japanese denim brand ourselves.

Entering the world of fashion takes planning, knowledge and fireworks

It takes guts to launch a new product, and there is no shortage of guts or gumption in the rank and file of Apprentice candidates, all of whom are willing to “give 110%” to a project. Any reasonable chance of success, however, demands meticulous planning and a deep understanding of the marketplace to underpin the great ideas the contestants claim to have in spades. When the task requires entry into the denim market — in which over 1 billion pairs of jeans are sold worldwide each year — even knowledge and forethought isn’t enough; it’s essential to arrive with a bang.

1 billion pairs of jeans are sold worldwide each year

Create an exclusive world for your audience

A new denim brand is not revolutionary — the number already available offering bigger bums, smaller bums, narrower waists, longer legs, thinner thighs, is vast. Any innovation in this market will be incremental in nature, insufficient to take centre stage as part of a launch campaign. Instead, we must tell a story of a world to which our audience wants to belong, and transport them there. The most successful luxury fashion brands (and we see this brand sitting in the luxury section) create a realm of mystery and fantasy and offer consumers access to this exclusive and elusive world via their products. We need to do the same.

Celebrate the craftsmanship that sets Japanese denim apart

Japanese denim is synonymous with selvedge — the use of the natural end of the roll of fabric to prevent unravelling (self-edge, yes well done if you spotted that already). Producing selvedge denim requires skill and time, since it can only be woven at around half the length of non-selvedge denim, and even then only on old looms requiring expertise to run.

Shinya Mills, Japan

Capturing the care and craftsmanship that goes into this production would be the starting point of our story. The traditional techniques at the heart of Japanese denim production run counter to the preoccupation with speed and convenience so prevalent in modern methods, something we know consumers are beginning to question. Our story would be the antidote to ‘fast fashion’, and would play on the history and romanticism of the selvedge technique which survives despite the trend for mass manufacture.

Channel your message, and entice the audience into your world

With a TV ad, a digital billboard and a packaging design to create, the messaging needs to be consistent, with execution tailored to maximise the potential of each channel. We would develop a brand with craftsmanship, timelessness and individuality at its centre, ensuring that these central pillars resonated throughout the campaign. The packaging will need to strike the balance of reflecting its contents (specifically the level of luxury) while enticing the consumer to look inside. We want the owner to feel proud carrying the brand.

”And what will you call it?” we hear you cry. Well we don’t want to share all our secrets, but brand names need to be memorable, meaningful and fitting. It’s a busy market, but we at A+B believe it’s possible to succeed if your brand story is authentic and most importantly, transports your audience to a world they want to be in.

Oh, apparently Lord Sugar will see us now…

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