Gold Coast Retailer Unafraid To Wear Politics On Sleeve

NYT: The silvery mannequin in the window sports a sexy black sequined skirt with a butterfly tail and shear fringed halter top, her wrists weighted with $1,000 worth of Swarovski crystal bracelets. But above the matching scarf wrapped around her neck, where the head should be, sits a big red stop sign.
“Stop” as in “Stop Domestic Spying,” the white block letters splayed across the plate-glass window.
It seems a strange slogan for selling Italian stilettos with four-figure price tags, but the owners of the exclusive boutique, G’bani, see shocking the shoppers strolling this city’s Gold Coast district as part of their mission.
“Fashion is really centered on the exterior, but we are more about humanity,” said Trevian Kutti, who owns G’bani with her husband, B. J., a native of Nigeria. “We do windows that show we are human beings before we are a business.”
Ms. Kutti said she usually does statement windows only in February and September – “Chicago can only handle it twice a year” – but she could not keep quiet about the eavesdropping.
Several retail analysts said G’bani’s provocative windows were a blunter, more extreme version of campaigns by companies like Kenneth Cole and Benneton, which weave liberal political messages about poverty, AIDS or racism into their advertising, and they praised the store’s bold effort to stand out.
Since 1997, when the Kuttis opened G’bani – which is Uruba for independent wealth – business has grown and now tops $2 million in annual sales, Ms. Kutti said.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.