• Hyper
  • Posts
  • Community building, 90s lookbook energy, and millennial handbags

Community building, 90s lookbook energy, and millennial handbags

Community building, 90s lookbook energy, and millennial handbags

Product-to-community or community-to-product?

In the olden days (aka like 5 years ago lol), you launch a brand and then found a customer to buy from you. You simply thought of a “problem” to solve, made a product, and then found a customer for it.

These days, though, the best brands I know, small or large, are ones that were built on communities first and foremost.

Goop used to be Gwyneth’s personal recommendation newsletter.

Glossier started as a Vlog.

Barstool Sports went from the bowels of internet content to building and scaling a mid-8-figure merch business.

Community —> Product seems to be the most sensible way to build in 2023. There’s so much noise on the internet that if you want to sell a product, build a community around a shared set of interests, then see what they want. You might be surprised.

The artist’s way

If you’re struggling to find color inspiration for a product or design, it can be helpful to study artwork and paintings to help reimagine what’s possible. Take artist, Nick Dahlen. The shades, color tones, and shapes in his work are so rich. It’s phenomenal.

Work by Nick Dahlen

Work by Nick Dahlen

Bringing the 90s energy

80s aesthetic has had its moment. A glimmer of Yuppie culture, rich with glam and gilded energy. A brand that’s executed incredibly well on this the last few years is Poolsuite and its sister brand, Vacation. This year, though, we’re seeing 90s reinsert their way back into lookbooks, campaigns, and product releases. Madhappy’s recent campaign is one fine example.

A note on milleninial-focused products

A driving concept for product success right now is achieving mainstream millennial adoption.

Millennials are still perhaps the most trend-focused major consumer group out there. At a macro-level Gen-X is set in their ways, Gen-Z is shapeshifting, more experimental and exploratory.

Millennials see something that appeals to them, and if it is

  • combined with existing brand recognition (whether new or old, small or large)

  • social media friendly

  • nostalgic to millennial heyday

Then it can make a wave.

Case in point:

  • The resurgence of Ugg with the mini Ugg

And then, the resurgence of Diesel with the 1DR bag—

Then there’s stuff like—

  • Prebiotic sodas… but in all the classic soda flavors

  • Or Sunny D, but make it a vodka seltzer?

And now we give you—

  • The absolute stronghold that the Coach jelly purse and jelly shoes are about to have this spring.

As you explore this product, remember that Gen-Z's nostalgia-o-meter is at an all-time high.

Vans, Dickies, Converse… Y2K-era designs and brands are Gen-Z staples.

So if a somewhat nostalgic item enters the millennial purchase sphere or brings a brand to the forefront, Gen-Z may not be familiar with what existed in that era…

Millennial adoption fuels sales across the next generation as well. The 1DR bag is going from Diesel resurgence --> fashion staple to "it-accessory" across generations.

What does this mean if you have a brand?

Consider the product types that are leading the charge here… the ones that are not existing staples (like shoe silhouettes) are primarily accessories (bags etc).

What item can you or collaborate to produce that could be an "it" millennial item in that same framework?

Factory options for bags

These manufacturers below all make PVC bags (amongst other more temporary woven bags, good reusable shopping bags etc).

The core thing to remember when reaching out to factories like these are most people reaching out to these factories want the cheapest product possible. These factories give most of their customers what they want.

You don't want the cheapest thing possible; you want something nice, and to get there, you need to be upfront about what you desire and expect to pay a decent amount more than the suggested price.

With platforms like Alibaba and Pietra, many people don't realize that you don't need to order the products they list! There is so much more to explore beyond what you see.

Any supplier that lists OEM (which is 99% of them at this point) can make you something custom.

You should take a design to these manufacturers who can make a similar thing from similar materials and work to your custom item cost.

So when you reach out, provide

  • examples of the quality you want with links and pictures

  • info on your desired quantity and variations

For PVC and women's bags, go here

For slightly more intricate options, go here:

Looking for brand strategy and/or merchandising advising?

Shoot us a note here: [email protected]