Spotted outside the J Crew store at the Biltmore Shopping Center in Phoenix, AZ by my friend Jen Turrell (who runs an amazing blog about autism and how it affects families) because she was ‘getting a new battery put in my Mac across the way’.
When I started this archery blog, I wasn’t quite intending it to be a catalogue of the gradual assimilation into mainstream culture of archery motifs, although there’s been quite a lot of that. It seems to be a strange mix of simple cultural shorthand – the use of arrows and targets has long been used as a visual business metaphor – along with the now familiar sexing-up of archery in the last year or so, plus the fact that, of course targets and arrows and bows simply look awesome.
I actually quite like what they’ve done with the colours above, which remind me slightly more of RAF roundels than FITA targets. But I’m always a bit uneasy about the casual, shopping-mall, sell-some-chinos assimilation of archery. It’s better than that, isn’t it?
Following on from last week’s NYT article about the archery ‘explosion’ in the US – which appears to be replicated in many other countries – someone alerted me to what Louis Vuitton has been up to. For the last seven years LV has been the world’s most valuable luxury brand, and it appears that someone there has been noticing which way the wind is blowing.
From the pitch… “LV releases a pair of archery-themed accessories to complement their men’s Fall/Winter 2012 runway collection. The feather pendant decorating the brooch comes in two color combinations and resembles arrow fletches, imparting a seasonal outdoors feel to whichever garment they accompany. In addition to a silver arrow-shaped pin, the brooch features a Louis Vuitton logo bangle attached to the pendant. The brooch pins are now available for purchase at Louis Vuitton outlets.”
But that’s not all. At LV’s Boston store, amongst others, someone has been building arrow based window displays in order to sell, um, handbags.
Does it stop there? Hell no. Hermès has been sticking archery on the runway recently – as, naturally, the perfect accessories to accompany a decidedly Robin Hood-ish winter collection.
Not to mention a variety of Olympics themed / tagged daftness, flogging beauty products and accessories. Google Images is now full of models/actresses/whatever wanging bows, posing dramatically with compounds against moody skies, and, famously, shooting sighted recurves as if they were barebows…
As to what to make of all this, meh. Archery has been sexed-up this year – rather against its will – by a now familiar combination of films, TV and the Olympics coverage. The fashion world of course has no interest whatsoever in archery as a sport. If, say, fencing had been similarly treated, you’d be seeing sabre brooches and models badly wielding foils on the runway (actually fashion runways are a bit like fencing pistes… this could work…).
On one hand, the aesthetics of archery is a big thing for me. I think bows (particularly recurves) are beautiful things both in use and in their own right; and that’s one of the things I wanted to bring to this archery blog. I can understand why someone would want a piece of that. And if it brings more people into archery, or indeed any sport, all the better. Everyone has to find some route in. It’s not like people don’t quickly find out that ‘being Katniss’ is difficult. On the other hand, it trivialises and reduces an ancient tradition and a modern sport into something – anything – to flog handbags and monograms with.
Still, maybe I could pull off one of those brooches…