Look, words are hard. As a fashion writer who has memorized every thesaurus suggestion for terms including "stylish" "edgy" and "sleek," I know the challenges of finding that one perfect term that is at once a singular, yet instantly identifiable way to sum up a brand or a movement or a trend. I know it, I feel it, and nevertheless, I'm here to tell the fashion industry: It's time to bench "heritage."
I know, it was such a great term—a few dozen brand stories ago. Earlier on, in the American-made brand revival, heritage actually referred to companies that had been making boots and bags and blankets for a century or more. But once all the other companies realized desirable shoppers would pay a premium for product with history—any history at all, really, even one created through the filter of 1977 on Instagram— they all started blathering about their heritage. We writers are guilty of watering down the phrase, too, by describing any brand with a rugged look or some amount of U.S. manufacturing as a "heritage brand." Really, when you get down to it, any brand that exists has heritage. But overuse has rendered the term meaningless. About the only thing a consumer can be sure of when she sees the word "heritage" attached to a product collection today is that it's more expensive than the non-heritage version. Time to go back to the thesaurus, brand marketers. Because when "heritage" is the window at Banana Republic, the term has officially jumped the retail shark.