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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Norm Challenger: LittleMissMatched

You never wear mismatched socks, right? Right. How could you? It'd be embarrasing! What if someone saw your fashion oversight?!

Sounds like norm-based thinking to me. Of course, I'm guilty of it as well, we all are (unless you don't match your socks, on purpose).

Well, the people behind LittleMissMatched got their collective minds beyond all that. The idea follows my four-step norm-busting process in straightforward splendor:
  1. Almost everyone wears matched socks.
  2. People don't have to wear matched socks.
  3. It's easy to not wear matched socks, all I need are two different socks.
  4. Hooray, I'm wearing mismatched socks.

That's all well and good on an individual level. I could have "shattered the fashion world" tomorrow morning by walking out in gloriously contrasting socks. Except nobody would have cared. The genius, the limiting step, is convincing other people to do it (thus leading to profit).

This happenened in two steps. First, they designed some killer socks. All of them are fun, interesting, and well designed with respect to color and pattern. Ok. I'll still take them in pairs please.

The big idea is understanding why people don't wear mismatched socks, and finding a way to circumvent that mindset. Mismatched socks, when occuring unintentionally, are bad because they reflect a lack of care, a lack of intentionality on the part of the wearer. Often, it's just a red stripe that betrays us; clearly we were so cavalier about our footwear that we didn't bother to notice.

How does LittleMissMatched take advantage of this? They remove "accidental" from our vocabulary. The socks (which come in mismatched sets of three) are so vibrantly different from one another, that you'd literally have to be blind to accidentally wear them. Nobody in their right mind, seeing someone come down the street with a blue and red striped sock and a yellow and purple polka dotten one, could think that it was an accident. LittleMissMatched has allowed people to increase their intentionality, to utilize an oft forgotten garment to make a statement. That is why people buy from them. Not only have they challenged the norm themselves, they make it easier for their consumers to do so to, and thus they sell.

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