'ALTERNATIVE' was a brand created by the fictional 'niche works' as a coursework project in early 2020 that provided a platform for cultural analysis of movements in fashion, music and social change. It contained both a magazine for older audiences and a website for the younger readers.
The main values of ALTERNATIVE are as follows:
These values were chosen in relation to a rise in demand for eco-friendly products that focus on acceptance and social change.
As such, the brand targets the 'reformer' demographic, defined as "a socially aware, independent type who is anti-materialistic and seeks enlightenment". They, therefore, are inclined to invest in brands which are "good for them or good for the environment". This is a key demographic type which is gaining market potential.
The two target sub-audiences were as follows:
40-55-year-old reformers (born in the 1960s to 1980s) in groups C1 to B
16-25-year-old reformers (born from 1996 to 2002) in groups C2 to B
These groups were identified as those who are sympathetic to social change and progressive values. Those who are older seek to keep up to date with the continuation of progression since the 1960s liberal movements, whereas as Generation Z are becoming inherently eco-friendly and highly accepting.
To target older reformers, a magazine was designed so as to capture an underground and niche area of the market comprised of older readers.
Its minimalist design seeks to resist the glossy and materialistic covers of specialist culture magazines that often alienate those of the C2, D and E categories, while also pushing against the sensationalist covers that are seen as untasteful to the C1 and B categories. Thus, ALTERNATIVE would act as a mid-range magazine.
The magazine acts as a quarterly publication that focuses on key areas and issues of society, being analysed
for their relevance to the trends of countercultural values. For example, each issue's main cover highlights a key issue which is represented through a person, product or place that allows older readers to stay in touch with the younger generations while also providing them with an opportunity to continue the implementation of their reformist ideals.
To target younger reformers, a website was created to tap into the rising digitalisation of the publishing market. Much like other digital newspaper and magazine models, ALTERNATIVE provides a limited number of free articles which can be expanded to an unlimited amount with a monthly subscription.
The website follows a similar design to the magazine: minimalistic with little space for advertisement and glossy or sensationalist headlines. The design also intended to shy away from the traditional newspaper website structure and instead create a more communal, forum-like atmosphere which provides a younger audience to freely discuss ideas in the comment section.
With a younger market and a wider economic demographic, the website is an easy platform for Gen Z reformers to find progressive views that focus on areas which are close to their hearts. For example, a free issue on the ALTERNATIVE website is 'BRITAIN AND THE FAILED WAR ON DRUGS: BRISTOL, THE COCAINE CAPITAL OF EUROPE".
As drugs have become heavily prevalent and even somewhat normalised in Gez Z, articles on drug-related issues strike the very core of what it is like to be a young person in the modern age.
Furthermore, Bristol itself is a city which is increasingly the epitome of progressive values, acting as a new powerhouse of reformer movements that can be seen in its eco-friendly policies such as CO2 free zones and alternative drug strategies such as the Bristol Drug Project.
As Bristol is notorious for its drug issues and inequality, it serves as a key demographic for publications such as ALTERNATIVE - especially as Bristol has a very large middle-class student population with progressive views. Lastly, Bristol is very much a culture conscious city which prides itself on its fashion and music, with the class division of B2 to D all finding common ground in the city's alternative movements. It is therefore the perfect free online article to target the Gen Z reformer demographic.
Graffiti: the voice of the silent.
"Fuck Love, Do Drugs": the nihilistic mantra of Gen Z.
Rips and chains in contrast to colour.
To target the reformer demographic and to create a vision of the ALTERNATIVE magazine, a featured fictional clothing brand was created that would embody the values of the publication. As opposed to an advertisement, ALTERNATIVE features fashion, music and art as an analytical piece that tracks progressive movements in the industry.
With this in mind, 'UrbanPscyehdelia' was created so as to embody and combine the spirits of the 40-55-year-old reformers and the 16-25 Gen Z reformers. On the one hand, parents and cultural critics who grew up surrounded by New Age ideology would be able to identify their own values of love, peace and equality within the brand and so would advocate its message for a younger audience, particularly when tapping into the nostalgia of the music and fashion of the 1960s and 1970s.
On the other hand, Gen Z reformers would look upon the New Age inspiration of the brand and wish to embody the values of a generation that they look up to and have been raised by through now classics in culture. At the same time as identifying the continued rise of New Age reformist values and the high prevalence of drugs in society that began in the psychedelic movement, they would be able to directly relate to the anti-urbanisation sentiment of the brand that has affected the younger generations heavily in the mass-consumer culture in which we now live.
As such, UrbanPsychedelia combines the hope and optimism of New Age culture (and the drugs, music and fashion that go along with it) with the nihilism of heavy rock and metal of the 1980s in light of the effects of urbanisation and the negative consequences of drug abuse. This is the world in which both older and younger generations now live: a world of love and hope slowly suffocated by concrete cages.
UrbanPsychedelia's USP is therefore its eco-friendly and sustainable ethos that combats this new age with organic bamboo material and bright tones that contrast with the dark ripped clothes of the modern age.
"As the fashion industry is on track to make up 25% of the planet's carbon output as the second most polluting industry by 2050, UrbanPsychedelia is motivated to continue a New Age environmentally-friendly agenda in the new Urban Age."