You might have read a lot of fashion outlets talking about NOAH and thought « Meh, just another overhyped brand ! » but you might want to reconsider that. Allow me to reintroduce the brand : tackling political and environmental issues and delivering an Everlane-like level of transparency, the one year old brand founded by Brendon Babenzien (Supreme’s former Design Director) is a one of a kind NY-based label that makes political activism as much a priority as creating dope menswear pieces (for instance, the brand struck a political stance last July by promising a refund to Donald Trump supporters.
It even supports Black Lives Matter by donating proceeds to the movement, even though it polarizes the masses over the internet.) The label was first launched in 2000, conceptualized as an ode to Babenzien’s childhood and upbringing as a New Yorker and Skateboarder. It eventually shuttered in 2007, the same time Babenzien re-joined Supreme as its creative director. Fast forward again to this year, and Babenzien parts ways with Supreme, back with a fresh take on NOAH which still retains its skateboarder-focus but with a more mature aesthetic.
« It feels completely insane to me that this even needs to be said, but Black Lives Matter.” NOAH’s Break Down the Walls blog post.
While some brands remained silent, many others do not hesitate to take their stand, as seen recently during the fashion weeks (as reported in ou latest opinion piece asking Is Politics something à la mode ?), convinced they have a responsibility to weigh in on our contemporary world issues. Be it through its singular conception of transparency (illustrated by its « In Detail » posts), supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, holding a coat drive last month for The Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter in New York (offering discounts and a patch to people who donate), or deciding, as risky as it sounds, to close on Black Friday while recommending its consumers to shop at Patagonia (because the brand was donating a 100% of its proceeds to environmental groups) ; NOAH keeps it real and doesn’t hesitate to speak up, to act in order to bring its very own vision to reality. The brand puts it’s money where it’s mouth is, trying to build its positive impact on the world bricks after bricks.
While some cherry-pick their issues, NOAH bounces across a variety of issues, achieving a state of branding long-overdue for consumers and making the brand feel more human, more like a friend rather than a corporation people are suspecting of marketing a trendy issue. Presented with such a brand, people cannot help but feel anything but sheer empathy, facing a label that gets them and what they really care about. In the polarized western world we’re living in, with all its recent political turmoils, NOAH and many other brands understood and have proven they cannot stay out of politic anymore if they want to meet the modern customer’s expectation of their two-sided relationship, who apply some pressure on their added-value, in the digital world, by demanding a simple yet significant thing from them : take concrete and consistent actions on issues that matter.
In such a configuration, in which WHY you buy from a brand or another matters so much, brands do matter and it may be more dangerous for them to remain silent than take a political stance, don’t you think ? Like me, you might find it hypocritical for a company that claims to be “guided by core values” to then withhold its position on a political issue…
Post written by Allan Joseph, Co-founder, Branding Strategist & Menswear Editor
After graduating from Toulouse Business School in 2012 and having multiple experiences as a Freelancer during 3 years, Allan works currently as a Strategist for Be Angels Agency. Specialised in Luxury marketing & advertising, he collaborated to the notorious book « La Génération Y et le Luxe » and joined Clausette Magazine in December 2015.