More Giving

Brands as Patrons.

Brands today are using their awareness and notoriety not only for their own benefit, but to benefit others, as well. In doing so, brands are becoming patrons, of sorts, championing other’s creations or directly giving back to the arts. In some instances this is to bring awareness to other artists, as in Heath Ceramics and Tory Burch; in other examples it’s to bring new life to products as with J. Crew; and finally some brands are truly acting as patrons with arts investments.

In the case of Heath Ceramics and Tory Burch, it’s to bring awareness to other artists:

  • Heath Ceramics has taken its popularity and is sharing it with other artists. In its new studio in the Mission district of San Francisco, the company has a Boiler Room space that it uses for shows and events, celebrating other like-minded artists. In the same corporate/retail space, the company also has studios that are rented to craftspeople from another potter to a jewelry maker.
  • Tory Burch is helping to reissue pottery from Dodie Thayer, an artist whose work Burch has long collected. Burch even persuaded Thayer, who is 92, to collaborate with her on a collection of ceramics to be released by Burch’s company in 2015.

In the case of J. Crew and Quitanda in Brazil, it’s to build other’s businesses:

  • Through its In Good Company program, J. Crew accessorizes with other brands that not only add to the company’s assortment, but also in turn make the company a tastemaker. In the September issue of Vanity Fair, Jenna Lyons speaks to the notion of championing these other brands, being quoted as having said, “We’re trying to resurrect these Stubbs and Wootton shoes. People loved them….” Birkenstock’s were also on her list and are also now a part of J. Crew’s assortment.
  • In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the newly renovated grocery store, Quitanda, has stalls for organic farmers to sell directly to shoppers at their store on the weekends. Even though they sell their own produce inside the store, it’s an interesting approach to allow farmers to sell directly right from the storefront.

Even in The New York Times at the end of this year, Vanessa Friedman wrote about this trend as it relates to fashion and luxury brands:

  • She acknowledged that with arts investment being cut by recession-strained governments, these brands are stepping up to fill the void and support the arts. Such patrons noted were Louis Vuitton and its investment in a new contemporary art museum; Prada funding Milan’s first contemporary art museum; Versace helping to restore the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II; Salvatore Ferragamo donating money to renovate the Uffizi in Florence; and more (Fendi , the Fountain of Trevi; Tod’s, the Coliseum; and Diesel, the Bridge of Sighs).

Brand Forecast: Just as there is a collaborative consumer economy, there, too, can be a collaborative brand environment. Association doesn’t have to mean competition; association can be good for all.



Friedman, Vanessa. “5 Highs (and Lows) from the Year in Fashion,” The New York Times, December 19, 2014.

Gocheva, Nelly (Editor). “Monocle Retail Top 25,” Monocle, October 2014, p. 105.

Moore, Booth. “Tory Burch draws fans into her ‘Color’ wheel in new book,” LA Times, November 15, 2014.

Suqi, Rima. “After a Lifetime of Obscurity, a 77-Year-Old Ceramicist Finally Hits the Big Time,” The New York Times, May 30, 2014.

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