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Fig 1 – The Shirt for Both


Chapter 1 - Research French Connection Gender Neutral Clothing 7. Chapter 2 – Marketing Concept 8. Marketing Concept Outline 10. Windows 11. Clothing 14. Online Launch 17. In-Store 18. Chapter 3 – Critical Reflection 20. Bibliography 2. 6.

Rawnie-Mae Wiggins C3477256 Critical Journal Word Count: 1,630

Fig 2 – French Connection

Marketing week wrote an article on French connection in 2007 explaining how they had recently lost a lot of their audience as they were confused about the branding, saying “French Connection has suffered over the last few years due to a significant shift in positioning from the younger FCUK branding to a more expensive stylish label.” (Marketing Week, 2007)

Fig 3 - French Connection 2 French Connection was founded in 1972 by Stephen Marks, “Priding itself on quality and affordable prices” (French Connection 2018).

“FCUK” Was used as a short term to reference French connection United Kingdom and differentiate the UK from Hong Kong. It soon turned into a recognised name and acronym in 1997 when they released a campaign with a punch line of “FCUK Fashion” (French Connection, 1997). This created a lot of Controversy due to the word play relating it to rude words.

“Confusion over the brand positioning remains.” (Marketing week, 2007) However, Mortimer explains in 2016 “Why French Connections revival of FCUK signals and identity crisis.” showing that the brand is trying and failing to revive themselves. Even though French connection is talked about as a bit of a lost cause, within the marketing week review they also explain how “A strong marketing campaign that clearly outlines the ‘new’ brand would be instrumental in aiding its recovery” (Marketing week, 2007) so a strong marketing campaign is what they should bring forward to the table.

Fig 4 - French Connection 3

Fig 5 – French Connection 4 Fig 7 – French Connection 6

Fig 6 – French Connection 5

In the French connection store in Leeds, the clothing does not seem to “have attitude” and a lot of their clothing does not shout “sexy” with their big and chunky shoes and baggy coat’s. The shirt shown, stands out to be the garment with the most “attitude” as it resembled the 90’s and grunge with the plaid shirt feel to the top.

Fig 8 – French Connection 7

French Connection states that windows are very important to their branding but the windows in Leeds are very minimalistic and don’t stand out, as they seem to be there to simply display the clothing rather than to grab people’s attention and to stick out as a French Connection window.

Fig 10 – French Connection 9

Fig 9 – French Connection 8


In 2015, Jaden Smith wore a dress to his prom and stirred a lot of controversy at the time before becoming one of the most influential people in the world of gender neutral fashion. In an interview for Nylon (2016) he states he is wanting to pursue this area of fashion so “in five years when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won’t get beat up and kids won’t get mad at him.”

Fig 12 – H&M H&M joined with the genderneutral movement with their denim unisex range released in 2017. There was, however, a lot of backlash which came with this line as people were complaining that the clothing was more “Women in men’s clothing” (Calon, 2017) rather than unisex. Fig 11 – Jaden Smith

“Gone are the days when skirts were just for women and trousers were just for men” Petter (2017)

Fig 13 - FCUK

Target Market

To do this they will concentrate on their statement of having ‘attitude’ and bring that to their new collection, online and in stores. Taking inspiration from couture brands such as louis Vuitton and Gucci who have previously used graffiti themes, adapting their minimal style clothing to contain the same theme, using this raw street art style to draw in the younger market.

In French Connections ecommerce market review (2015), it states that their existing customer is 25-34 years old and looks “for clothes which are elegant, sophisticated and smart.” For the gender-neutral collection, they will have a complete different target market, trying to reach a slightly younger audience, 18-30, to bring back to life the “FCUK” branding, whilst keeping existing customers.

The Approach


To keep the existing customers, French Connection must be strategic with how they change their stores. The best way would be to take the new launch to the upstairs part of the stores. There, there will be FCUK spray painted on the walls in many different styles with the genderneutral clothing throughout the floor. The changing rooms on this floor will be one female, one male and a genderless room. Within these rooms, customers will be encouraged to write on the walls to accommodate the theme of graffiti.

Using Instagram as the main source of marketing, French connection will release new photos every week for 2 months in the lead up to the launch, writing statements about both genders wearing the same clothing and using quotes about gender neutrality, standing out and being your own person. The French connection website will accommodate this by adding a “clothing� option which doesn’t specify genders for the clothing and within this section, there will be a garment on a coat hanger as the main picture and both a female and male modelling it.


Looking at a Louis Vuitton window from 2009, which paid tribute to a graffiti artist; Stephen Sprouse, the idea of such a couture brand using such raw street art and putting it into their clothing influenced the idea of using graffiti for this French connection campaign.

Fig 15 - Highsnobiety (2014)

Fig 14 – Size Window

As well as looking at the Louis Vuitton Campaign; the Size window, across from French Connection in Leeds, stood out as this seems to have more ‘attitude’ than the French connection window. The use of metal railings and coat hangers for their garments screamed ‘attitude’, which French connection need more of.

Fig 16 – French Connection 10 There are already examples of graffiti style designs with French Connection. Because of this, the new designs won’t come as a complete shock to loyal customers, as the brand wouldn’t be completely changing, just building off a concept that has already been used before.

“To Sell something you have to first get someone’s attention. Colour helps to clarify a product’s Identity.” (Laurie Pressman, 2017) For the Gender, Neutral collection, the colours should be limited to black and white shades, as these colours are the most neutral. The stereotypes of gender and colour, such as pink for girls and blue for boys, are so strong that instead of challenging these colours, it would be best to embrace them.

“Whether fcuk has shocked or amused, it certainly made you think; Bold, witty and Intelligent.” (French Connection, 2018) Part of the collection will be pumps of all sizes to cater for all genders with a plain white base and the graffiti FCUK over for the pattern. The second is a long white shirt, the length of a dress. This will add femininity to the collection, due to the backlash from the H&M denim unisex complaints of men’s clothing that women can wear. The shirt will also feature the graffiti to make the branding obvious, taking inspiration from the Gucci Ghost collection.

Fig 17 – Shoes for Both

Fig 18 – The Shirt

Fig 19 - Instagram Mock Up

Fig 20 - Instagram Mock Ups 2

Fig 21 -Website Mock Up 1

There will be a series of Instagram posts leading up to the launch to create talk and a buzz for the launch before it is available. The posts will have quirky captions such as the one in the mock up and all contain the hashtag #newfcuk so all the posts about the new launch can be found together easily for consumers and they can also join in. When the Instagram posts start, there will also be a landing page before the customer enters the French connection website, this will contain photos of the garments and a sign-up box for customers to be notified when the garments are released. There is flashing GIFs and interactive buttons within the site. When the launch is release, there will be new sections on the website with the navigation bar reading “Clothing”, as to not be too specific, and another square on the website reading “Neutre De Genre”, which translates to gender neutral in French.

Fig 22 - Website Mock Up 2

Fig 23 – FCUK Label

As shown above, is the signs of which will be on the dressing room doors for the above floor of the shops, reading the French and English meanings as to bring the original French connection style into the new FCUK branding. On the garments labels, will be the FCUK graffiti on the back, as shown in fig 23, and within the bags and shoe boxes will be tissue paper with the same branding shown in fig 24. The design for the tissue paper will also be the backdrop to the windows to add more attitude and make them stand out, as the website states they are very important to the branding.

Fig 24 – FCUK Backdrop and Tissue

Fig 17 – Shoes for both (Repeated)

Fig 25 – The Shirt 2

Looking at the work, I Think I had too many ideas and not enough time to get all those ideas into reality so they are just versions of the ideas instead of the finished product. The idea however, I think would work very well and be industryleading as it would be appealing to a whole new market without losing existing customers. There will be global appeal as gender-neutral clothing is very large in America with influencers such as Jaden Smith but is slowly working its way into UK markets and across the world. The idea of Graffiti will add a young playful twist to the launch and will differentiate French Connection from the other brands going with the gender-neutral movement and put them above their competitors due to the unique idea.

Fig 13 - FCUK

List of Illustrations Fig 1 – Fig 2 – Fig


Fig Fig Fig Fig Fig Fig Fig


Fig Fig Fig


Fig Fig Fig

Fig Fig

The Shirt for Both: Own image, edited on Adobe Photoshop French Connection French Connection (2018) [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018] 3 – French Connection 2 - French Connection 2 (2018) [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018] 4 – French Connection 3 (2018) - French Connection 3 [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018] 5 – French Connection 4 - Own image (2018) taken in Leeds French Connection Store 6 – French Connection 5 - Own image (2018) taken in Leeds French Connection Store 7 – French Connection 6 - Own image (2018) taken in Leeds French Connection Store 8 – French Connection 7 - Own image (2018) taken outside of Leeds French Connection Store 9 – French Connection 8 - Own image (2018) taken outside of Leeds French Connection Store 10 – French Connection 9 - Own image (2018) taken outside of Leeds French Connection Store 11 – Jaden Smith - Jaden Smith (2016) [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018] 12 – H&M - H&M (2017) [Online Image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018]. 13 – FCUK - Own Image, created using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop 14 – Size Window - Own Image (2018) taken outside of the Leeds Size store 15 – Louis Vuitton Window - Louis Vuitton Window (2014) [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018] 16 – French Connection 10 - French Connections Existing Graffiti (2018) [Online Image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018] 17 – Shoes for Both - Own image, edited on Adobe Photoshop 18 – The Shirt - Own image, edited on Adobe Photoshop 19 – Instagram Mockup - Own Image, Created on Adobe Photoshop - French Connection Instagram, sourced: @FrenchConnectionOfficial (2018) [Online Image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 8 May 2018] 20 – Instagram Mock Ups 2 - Own Images – Edited on Adobe Photoshop 21- Website Mockup 1 - Own Images and creations - Made on Wix: Rawnie Wiggins (2018) FCUK [online]. Available from: < > [Accessed 8 May 2018]

List of Illustrations Fig 22 – Website Mock up 2 - Own Image, Edited on Adobe Photoshop - French Connection Website, Sourced: Homepage (2018) [online image]. Available from: < > [Accessed 8 May 2018] - Fonts found in Adobe Photoshop Fig 23 – FCUK Label - Own Image, Created on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator Fig 24- FCUK Backdrop and Tissue - Own Image, Created on Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop Fig 25 – The Shirt 2 - Own Image, Edited on Adobe Photoshop

Bibliography French Connection (2018) About Us [online]. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018]. Marketing Week (2017) Assessing The French Connection Brand [online], 9 Feb. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018]. Mortimer, N (2016) Why French Connections Revival of FCUK Siglans an Identity Crisis [online], 1 Feb. Available from: < > [Accessed 21 March 2018] Giannini, M (2016) Jaden Smith Is Our August Cover Star [Online], 6 July. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018]. Petter, O (2017) ‘Gender-Neutral clothing doesn’t force someone into a box’ [online], 25 Oct. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018]. Colon, A (2017) H&M’s New Denim Line Is Entirely Unisex [online], 23 March. Available from: < > [Accessed 28 March 2018] French Connection (2015) ecommerce marketing review [online]. Available from: < ch_connection_group.pdf > [Accessed 8 May 2018]. Pressman, L (2017) In the consumer goods sector, from fashion to electronics and home appliances, colour matters - and predicting the next colour trend is big business [online]. Available from: < > [Accessed 8 May 2018]

Rawnie Wiggins Critical Journal  

c3477256 (Compressed version due to file size)

Rawnie Wiggins Critical Journal  

c3477256 (Compressed version due to file size)