You are walking down the street. You decide you don't like the color of your shirt. You swipe at your chest like it's a touch screen. Your shirt changes color, and you are happy. You are not on acid. You are in the future, as imagined by Lacoste.
This is a novelty ad celebrating the 80th anniversary of the invention of the tennis brand's iconic polo shirt. At its core, it's just another fashion spot, heavy on the atmosphere, projecting feel-good-youthful-sporty cool. It's more fun to watch than most fashion ads, as it weaves in a conceptual thread suggesting that one day in the not-too-distant future, we'll be able to customize out shirts on the fly. Take a step back, and it's decidedly goofy.
Mostly, it's another testament to how much the iPhone has defined the zeitgeist. Five years ago, the digital effects in this spot would have read as cheesy sci-fi at best, and weirdly psychotic at worst. Now, the fundamentally ridiculous clothes-fondling gestures that serve as the spot's linchpin aren't only part of the physical vernacular—they're a commonly accepted status symbol. The ad's subtext: Today, only Neanderthals don't have touch-screen smartphones. Someday, only Neanderthals won't have touch-screen polo shirts.
A generation of affluent, tech-obsessed digital natives won't even have to blink twice to suspend disbelief while watching the commercial. And its chameleonic effects are aimed squarely at those same millennials, notoriously perceived as fickle, by a brand that doesn't really ever seem to change that much. Lacoste wants those kids—geeky preps of tomorrow—to know it has the shirts of tomorrow.
Of course, concepts for digital clothing abound. Earlier this year, whiskey brand Ballantine's actually designed a prototype of an Internet-connected T-shirt with an LED screen on the front. Macy's and P. Diddy's Sean John brand are selling a $223 digital sweater with a miniature screen on the sleeve. Not that any of this will really catch on—it's all, to varying degrees, absurd. But it's also further evidence that non-digital brands feel the need to use digital gimmicks to prove their continuing relevance in a tech-obsessed world, even as brands that actually are cutting edge work to prove their relevance to the physical world of yore.
Now, Lacoste just needs to figure out how to actually mass-produce the tricks it's pitching. Or maybe, shirts will always just be shirts.
Agency: Mnstr, Paris
Director: Fleur & Manu