This is a translated and slightly improved version of my previous post. Enjoy!
Noko jeans. The whole world is talking about it. The founders have been busy for years, a rather large crowd of fans have been around for a while, and now it’s really famous. Because PUB (a department store in Stockholm) decided not to sell it.
Noko themselves are alright with PUBs decision (at least that’s what they’re saying in their blog). I’m really not. Noko is hardly a commercial project. It’s rather an experiment of organisation. The point is highlighting problems and conditions. Now PUB won’t sell the jeans, due to the debate spurred by the clarification of workers conditions in the process. Oh, the irony.
Something tells me that you find a lot more to worry about when looking into the 50 dollar pants of Cheap Monday, than in Noko's expensive and completely open process. But because of that openness, which we so often ask for, Noko are punished. Hello The Process.
It strikes me that this is so typical for western economies. We love openness until it reveals an inconvenient truth. Be it huge steaks, SUVs or cheap jeans, we know it doesn't seem right, but we really don’t want to know. And when we are forced to, we'd rather boycott until the debate cools off, than actually deal with the problem.
PUB says their actions are part of a bigger project to analyze workers’ conditions for all the brands they carry. Excellent. But none of the other brands have been removed from the store. And I'm sorry to say that it will be easy to forget that detail once the Noko storm is over.
I understand that people are upset about workers’ conditions in North Korea. So am I. What I don’t get is what PUB were thinking when they first decide to carry Noko, then shut it down due to politics. Because Noko IS politics. It’s not your average hipster brand. And that’s where PUB gets it all wrong. If you want a part of the hip crowd's wallets (and PUB does, so desperately) you need to take a stand. But PUB doesn’t have the guts. And that’s why they come off as insecure, rather than interesting. No matter how many cool brands they carry.
So go Noko. You just wrote another chapter in denim history. Through a marvellous story, that just got even better.