Our flashy legacy of crap?

Since 2004, designer Christian Audigier has found great success in marketing multiple clothing lines including ‘Christian Audigier’, ‘Ed Hardy', and ‘Smet’. The clothing lines are all similar in design, featuring lots of crystals, metallic iron-on prints of weapons, tacky slogans like “Born On the Streets”, and large brand name logos adorning each garment. But what started out as a unique style of clothing has evolved into some horrible mess of over branding, as now the designs adorn everything from Ed Hardy brand hand sanitizer, to Ed Hardy brand bottled water, and even a special edition Christian Audigier Lamborghini. All in a grotesque capitalist orgy of over consumption and utter greed.

I’ll admit, when this stuff first came out a couple years ago it was cool, yet terribly over-priced. However, the price itself became the line’s major selling point, as it was one of those things only the rich and stupid could buy. I’m guilty of spending a bunch of money on shirts, hats, and even pajama pants. At the time, these things seemed like good investments, but that was a few years ago before I found out that Chinese knock-offs were about the same quality, and about a quarter of the price – you just had to know where to look.

The brands gained local infamy a few years ago when the Vancouver Police Department Integrated Gang Task Force banned people from wearing any Christian Audigier and Ed Hardy clothing in the Granville Entertainment District and in bars and clubs across metro Vancouver. The clothes had become ubiquitous with gang members to the point that anyone wearing these brands was turned away as part of the ‘Bar Watch’ program designed to keep known gang members out of public establishments, and to lessen the chance of violence involving innocent bystanders. Eventually though, the majority of people decided to stop wearing the stuff because it got played out. Everyone and their dog started wearing it and suddenly crappy imitations flooded stores as retailers tried to cash in on this generation’s BeDazzler. Christian Audigier and Ed Hardy are no longer ‘the shit’, they’re just kind of ‘shit’.

This trend stopped being cool when Christian Audigier decided: “Fuck just selling over priced tacky clothing, let’s sell over priced tacky everything!” No, he didn’t really say that, but considering that you can buy Ed Hardy brand anything, from car air fresheners, to underwear, to European beer, it becomes painfully clear that this is a case of ‘lifestyle’ marketing pushed to the extreme. It’s even sadder to think that there is still a market in this economy for completely over priced tacky crap.

What’s worse is that Christian Audigier and Ed Hardy gear is starting to pop up on every mid-life crisis victim that can afford this crap – sorry, cougars, it doesn’t make you look hip when you’re in your 40’s, it makes you look like a ghetto, busted-ass trailer park resident who probably has a few ads on Craigslist’s erotic services section and a coke problem.

So fuck you, Christian Audigier. You and your products represent everything wrong with society. Here’s an idea: why not just start making Ed Hardy brand douche bags? Obviously, one could argue that they already produce Ed Hardy douche bags, just not the literal kind. 

Ultimately, both Christian Audigier and Ed Hardy will stand as testaments to the kind of sick culture of over consumption that has permeated this decade. I’m sure that just as we have 1980’s themed parties today, it’s not too bold a prediction that in twenty years they’ll probably have dress up parties featuring Ed Hardy and Kanye West’s ‘Shutter Shades’, all the while collectively wondering: “Did this crap really used to be cool?”

//Aaron Bolus

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