Once associated with tradition and the older, female consumer — and definitely not associated with the younger or, for that matter, male consumer — the Liberty floral is one of the rebranding success stories of the 21st century. And we can probably all learn something from it.
In recent years Liberty of London has transformed itself, to become the pattern and printed textiles design of choice for what are undeniably some of the coolest brands around: most notably Target, Nike, J Crew and Supreme.
It’s no coincidence that Liberty has partnered with some of the most cutting edge brands, effectively reframing the traditional floral as avant-garde by having it used for products where the traditional floral would normally not appear. The floral, repositioned, seems quirky, edgy, and even flamboyant. Supreme’s Liberty floral-decorated caps, for example, look completely cutting edge, simply because no one else ever thought to use this kind of print in that kind of way. Supreme, we might note, began as a collective of skaters and artists in downtown New York.
If Supreme confirmed Liberty’s new cutting edge chic image, it was it’s partnership with cool chain superstore Target that introduced the brand to young Americans. In 2010, Target launched a range of products, from teapots to peddle bikes, all covered in Liberty florals. This brand of print has also been used, several times, for Nike sneakers, as well as for shoes by J Crew and Dr. Martens. It’s the unexpected placement of the print that makes it — and the product that it is printed on — cool, relevant, new, and, of course, desirable.