Marc Ecko, founder of the eponymous streetwear line and a host of other urban/hip-hop branded apparel, seems hell bent on using controversy as a way to light a fire under flagging retail sales. For his next eye-popping (literally) trick he snared jailbird Lindsay Lohan to appear in a holographic ad campaign for his Cut & Sew line.
Says Ecko in a video promo for the campaign, "I wanted to create a woman so dangerous, that if she were to exist in the real world, it would kill me." Unfortunately it's not the dame, but Ecko's investment in such multimedia initiative that's likely to hasten the company's demise.
The concept, however, is admittedly inspired. LiLo's turn as "digital muse trapped in a digital prison" (prescient, considering this was shot months before she landed in the cooler) is a series of online video clips. But these were filmed with high-def cameras and "augmented reality" technology that projects a hologram of Lohan dressed in vintage costumes just by holding a webcam up to a special glyph in the ads. The film noir-inspired flicks were shot by Markus Klinko and Indrani (stars of the Bravo TV's Double Exposure) and will be featured on a dedicated site, marceckomuse.com, on August 10th.
Whatever fantasies a bustier-clad (and ski-masked) Lohan will evoke as she cavorts on wrinkled bed sheets â€" and wields a giant scissor â€" it's hard to see how gawking at her will convert to clicks and purchases. If Ecko's move was to distinguish the Cut & Sew brand from its (astonishingly similar) cousin, Ecko Unltd., his money would be better spent on design first.
That is, if he has any left to spend. As his brand's cachet went from underground cool to JCPenney (JCP) mainstream, Ecko continued to cultivate a company headquarters that would be considered crass even in pre-recession times (think 280,000 square feet with a basketball court and recording studio) as well as an impressive collection of custom doorknobs for his home that cost $180K.
Frivolous purchases and declining sales pushed Ecko to the brink of bankruptcy â€" in early 2009 he had $170 million debt load and defaulted on a term loan of more than $70 million from a syndicate led by commercial-lending giant CIT.
By November, Ecko was compelled to hand over 51 percent interest in his company to Iconix, (ICON) the New York-based clothing company boasting a portfolio full-to-bursting with discount apparel brands such as Joe Boxer, Bongo, and lately, Madonna's Material Girl.
The other part of the problem is that the slouchy threads and graphic tees that Ecko built his (now tottering) empire on have largely fallen out of favor. And while it's true that fashion is cyclical, Ecko's most important wholesale account Macy's (M) is not projected to ring in revenues better than last year's loss of $18 million (more than 10 percent).
If he's lucky, a holographic LiLo will draw thousands of curious eyeballs. It'll be up to Ecko to strike while the iron is hot and place some innovative designs in front of them, tout de suite.
Images via markeckomuse.com
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