The Swell is a space for the experiences, sounds, and ideas that lift my spirit, refresh my mojo, and bring forth the best in me. I hope you'll find inspiration and delight here.

Artisanal, Craft, Hipster, Enough Already?

Artisanal, Craft, Hipster, Enough Already?


One of the sessions at Global Shop was a discussion, led by Michelle Fenstermaker, Strategy Director at Fitch, about the (over) abundance of artisan, storied brands. Where did this trend come from, and how is it going to influence us, whether we're a major retail player, a smaller Main Street business, a consumer, a marketing professional . . . ??  As she writes in the session description, "It seems you can't buy anything these days without a carefully nurtured story reflecting the provenance, purity or purpose of the brand, replete with a hand-crafted booklet on the blood, sweat and tears it took to bring this product to you. And all you wanted was a coffee."

Even I had to laugh – and I'm a self-professed fan of the artisanal and the small and the meaningful. 

Fenstermaker goes on to say, "On the surface, all this authenticity and effort is not a bad thing. Indeed, as the mass brands flail in the face of this hipster hurricane, it may be time to ask why we find ourselves drawn to this phenomenon that has created a bigger issue of parity in all corners of retail. Why do they seem to be taking over every category of retail?" 

I have a theory:

  • Technology is supposed to connect us but is leaving us feeling unconnected

  • Natural cycle of the pendulum from industrialization back to the small and the human

  • The gig economy is driving the rise of craft businesses

  • Creative response to lack of traditional job opportunities

  • Western culture increasingly more interested in questions of self-awareness and fulfillment, and individuals are pursuing hobbies, which then transform into small business – creates community as well as financial opportunity

  • Exhausted by giving money to the already rich and faceless corporations when we could support local and known – act of political resistance

  • Search for novelty

What do you think? Let me know in the comments, below.

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