A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 26th of April, 2020.Read more
A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 19th of April, 2020.Read more
Sceptical that algorithms are the enemy? Just consider that if you’re reading this, odds are it’s only because at least one algorithm has let you.
Traditionally, the twin concepts of Disney and high-fashion being mentioned in the same sentence would have been laughed at. Low-grade, mass-produced, and with mass-appeal are what defined Disney merchandise for decades. Things appear to be changing though, as the company makes a concerted push into luxury fashion in a move that is bewildering yet not entirely surprising.
Every fan loves to express their devotion to their favourite show, film, or comic. Now more than ever, they have a plethora of ways of doing so too, which wasn’t always the case. Not only is a wide variety of merchandise available, but it isn’t limited to what’s in the toy aisle either. There is however, one area where current merchandise seems to fail, and that’s when it comes to being appropriate for the workplace.
Sprung upon the (non-Japanese) world last week was a series of lingerie based on the Disney Princess brand. Yet here in the west, a bit of a burhaha unfolded as people discussed the merits and demerits of such merchandise. In the midst of it all, people forgot that they might not be so weird, or so bad after all.
Licensed apparel (or clothing) has gained prominence in the merchandising puzzle as of late thanks to its simplicity, low cost/high margins and its customizability. Long gone are the days when clothing bearing your favourite cartoon character was only availably in a few, all-round safe choices. Today, thanks to on-demand production and the internet as a sales channel, it’s possible to create clothing with just about anything on it and in just about any batch size. So here’s the deal, given a choice, would consumers rather wear clothes that feature a character or rather replicas of the clothes the character wears?
While in Ireland this past July, we (future missus and I) made numerous trips to that mecca of price conscious, fashion-loving regular folk that is Penneys. Quite different from the American JC Penney, Penneys is the brand for retail giant Primark in Ireland and their strategy is to sell high-quality, stylish clothing at the lowest possible price.
Let’s put it this way, even in the US, I’ve struggled to find a pair of jeans for under $10 whereas Penneys sells them every day.
Besides the low, low prices Penneys also sells plenty of licensed items, including a healthy supply of animation-related clothing that was clearly selling. It was quite a surprise to see that cartoon characters on clothing is considered much more mainstream than it is here in the States; where you either accept the wall of ‘hip’ shirts that Wal-Mart/Target has to offer or you have to duck into the local Hot Topic to what they’ve got to offer.
Anyhoo, without further adieu, here’s 7 articles of clothing that I found in Penneys that any fashionable fan of animation should not be without:
1. Japanese Mickey Mouse
2. Yosemite Sam (woefully under-represented in clothing IMO)
3. Fred Flinstone
4. Spongebob Squarepants (perfect for casual Friday)
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (mandatory for those in the 22-28 age bracket)
6. Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop pyjamas (Betty was on many, many more items besides these PJs)
7. Lola Bunny (no sign of Bugs though)
Yesterday, Aaron Diaz (a.k.a. Dresden Codak) tweeted a few things about what a character wears:
It was a pleasure to meet Aaron this past weekend at the MoCCA Festival albeit before I discovered his insanely superb tumblelog and it was also a pleasure writing this blog post until the computer crashed and took the previous version with it, but what can you do.
Aaron is spot-on in his analysis. The clothes a character wears can say a lot about them as does the wardrobe they keep. Take for example, Marge Simpson:
Marge in normal clothes
Marge in formal clothes (yoinked from the Dead Homer Society)
Although she is wearing two different outfits, they can both readily be identified as belonging to Marge. How about another example, Sam from Danny Phantom:
Sam in normal clothes
Sam in formal attire
Both pictures are clearly Sam yet if you saw the clothes by themselves, you would still be able to associate them with her. The clothes really do maketh the man (or woman).
In animation, it is obviously desirable to have a character wear the same thing most of the time. If they didn’t, there sure would be plenty of opportunities for animators to make mistakes!
A great exception to this rule was My Life as a Teenage Robot. Although Jenny (XJ-9) doesn’t wear clothes (on account of being a robot), her colour does change quite a few times throughout each episode. While this has a far less effect than changing clothes, it does help establish the mood for a particular scene. Generally, cold colours for quiet scenes, hotter colours for action/drama scenes.
This is a complicated topic for sure. I personally think that some character designers in animation deserve just as much credit as their live-action counterparts when it comes to clothes, especially in feature films.
So take note and don’t just slap a T-shirt and jeans on your character, they (and your audience) deserve much more.