Rumination 52: Overstated Minimalism

Back in March, I wrote a piece called Je suis KmÀrt in which I discussed some of the annoying, meaningless drivel that is printed on cheap clothing for marketing purposes. My essential point was as follows:

‘What I find concerning is the way that people mindlessly scoop up such items, using them to project false styles and realities that match their constructed realities on Instagram. In people’s relentless efforts to stand out, they end up all heading to the same retail chains.’

I do spend some time ruminating about the identities that people project online. Shopping trips often spark this thought, as I’m surrounded by consumerist nonsense that undoubtedly ends up in selfies.

Well, here’s yet another example: during a recent visit to Cotton On, I spotted this bag.

Whilst not in French or Spanish this time, this bag includes the printed label: ‘Minimalist New York’. So, what’s my issue with this? My issue is that by printing the very word ‘minimalist’ on a supposedly minimalist bag, the designers have ironically created a product that is less minimalist than it could have been if it hadn’t included any words in the first place.

I would argue that including only the city name or featuring no text at all would have been a better branding exercise than including the word ‘Minimalist’. Upon seeing someone carrying the bag without any text, people may even ask, ‘That’s a nice bag? Where did you get it? Who made it?’, to which the owner could answer that the brand is so minimalist that the company doesn’t even include its name on the products. That sounds more interesting and genuine to me.

If you wish to display a minimalist aesthetic, just be a minimalist without needlessly overstating it. Think about it: if someone likes to wear purple shirts, that person will just wear a purple shirt on any given day. He or she won’t go to a clothing shop asking for a purple shirt that says ‘purple’ on the front of it, just so that people understand the inner philosophy of their colour choice.

Don’t fall for this. Be who you want to be without feeling the need to overstate it with a printed label.