Have you noticed that cool, crisp feeling in the air? Fall has arrived and with it some of the hottest new trends in fashion. And what better town is there than Hoboken to take “hot” and “new” to the test?
Hoboken is considered one of the best cities for singles, so it’s no surprise that on any given day throngs of 20-somethings congregate at one of the Mile Square’s hip eateries or bars. Yet, you might wonder why it is that some seem more stylish than others. Or wonder why a girl is dancing in the street!
Harbor Footwear has made Hoboken its co-star in their 2012 fall fashion campaign, which features local Hobokenites as models in some well-known places. When putting your own look together this fall – don’t forget your feet! These energetic, talented locals put their own spin on a campaign that tells the story of a few friends, an agency, and what can happen when creative people meet.
Developing a Concept
“We had to do three completely different shoots for three completely different brands that Harbor Footwear has the licenses for [including] Bass Shoes, GBX and Giorgio Brutini,” said Kevin Cale of Tisha Creative. “Each brand has a different target audience that we were going after, so each shoot had to be unique to that brand’s look and feel, which would help capture the target audiences.”
Tisha Creative was first approached by Harbor Footwear back in the winter of 2011 to update their Bass Shoes brand’s look and feel. They were looking to hit a younger, more hip and trendy audience.
“Tisha Creative and I have worked together for several seasons now on a number of Bass related projects,” said Barry Specht, vice president of marketing for Harbor Footwear. “They understand the vibe that I’m looking to convey. One of the directives this season was to take it from a ‘hipster’ vibe to a sportier, preppier feeling. I had also mentioned the idea of using real people instead of models for the campaign to give it a more genuine feeling.”
A few of the locations chosen were places that every local has visited at one time or another. They shot in the iconic Lackawanna Train station waiting room, the cobblestones on Court Street, and in the Sweet Cupcake shop.
“For Bass Shoes we wanted a young, fun look and feel,” said Cale. “We also wanted to make sure it had a slight New York City and downtown L.A.trendy feel as well.”
According to Specht, Harbor Footwear is the worldwide distributor of Bass wholesale footwear for men, women and children through a multi-year contract with PVH. Bass is the iconic lifestyle brand that has been in existence since 1876.
“Hoboken has an urban feel and I was looking to make sure that we incorporated some of that into the present campaign,” said Specht. “There’s a rich history there that we were able to pick up on especially in the train station setting. It gave us a number of different scenes to use while still holding true to the basic element of “A Journey,” what I envision as almost a Bass travelogue.”
Brendan Gillespie and Kaitlin Thomas were among the group of models chosen for the Bass Shoes photo and video shoot, which was done by Tisha Creative. The pair portrays a couple in the shoot, but also happen to be a real life couple. So the ease with which the two seem on camera isn’t fake. Often times at a shoot, a man and a woman just play their roles. Using a real world couple was a gamble that paid off. But to tell the story of Brendan and Kaitlin, you’d really have to start with her:
Kaitlin has been acting since the age of 12, and has been active in the industry for the past five years, which has included theater work, commercials, guest roles on TV shows, and print modeling.
“I had worked with Kevin on a couple of previous projects and he sent me an email for a casting call for the Bass shoot,” said Kaitlin. “They provide a really great working environment. You are there to work and shoot, but it feels so fun and relaxed. It eases you into the scene and you are able to produce great photographs.”
The models were taken to various locations throughout Hoboken for the shoot, which showed the cast in Bass shoes over several different terrains from cobblestone roads and train tracks to the smooth polished floor of the station. They were also shown walking, dancing and even doing the Irish jig.
“In the past, we always used full-time professional models from the larger modeling agencies,” said Cale. “This time we wanted it to seem like it was a group of friends who were hanging out around town, getting on a train to head to the beach or to another fun place for the weekend.”
So the team at Tisha Creative thought – What better way to capture this than to use a real group of friends? The casting information was posted on their Facebook fan page, and they were able to get a group of friends together. And what a group they turned out to be.
In addition to Kaitlin and Brendan, they added local musician John Miller, along with a few of their close friends.
“It was awesome. It was one of the coolest experiences I ever had,” said Brendan. “They didn’t want to go for the normal run of the mill campaign. They asked if [Kaitlin] could arrange for a couple of friends to come and make it feel real.”
Real World Hoboken
While some will recognize Kaitlin from other modeling jobs, others will recognize Brendan. As a local bartender, he has an enormous following. It’s also very likely he’s been spotted around and about out on the town. Yet for all of his social skills and tremendous personality, he was initially a little hesitant to step in front of the lens.
“My girlfriend Kaitlin has been professionally acting and modeling for the past 10 years, and this is something she is totally used to,” said Brendan. “I never had any experience in any type of modeling, but she asked me to do it. At first I was very resistant. It’s not something I saw myself doing.”
However, after a little encouragement Brendan did join the group for the photo shoot and even got to play the role of happy couple with his lady. Brendan says that at first the photographer said they might not be paired up together and he told her, “It’s OK. I’m a professional.” But after seeing their real life chemistry, they got the green light to portray a couple.
“I guess on normal photo shoots the models have to pretend they know each other,” said Brendan. “We already had that friendship vibe down. This was such a new experience for the most of us. We were giggling and laughing from the start, and the photographer was great. It turned into 10 hours of hanging out with people you enjoy spending time with.”
For Brendan, it also gave him a glimpse into Kaitlin’s world, where acting natural is an art, and smiling on command is a skill that is not as easy as it looks.
“It was a learning process and it was cool, and I got to see how my girlfriend operates in that arena,” he said. “I loved it and everyone on the shoot was so creative – Joe, the team from Tisha Creative and Bass Shoes. It was great to see how tight a company can be.”
While Kaitlin brought professional experience to the set, she says working with her real life friends and boyfriend has its own appeal: “Usually, you are on set with a bunch of people you don’t know and you have to ease into it. Because most of us have known each other for a number of years, it was really nice and very different,” she said.
After his debut shoot, Brendan might be willing to step in front of the lens again.
“Absolutely, take pictures and get paid for it, why not?” said Brendan. “Getting treated like a celebrity for a day, there is nothing wrong with that.”
Of course, the other main co-star of this shoot was the beautiful and historic Hoboken, which lent itself as the perfect background for a group of friends on the town. And as it happens, the group does like to tear up the town. However, it takes more than a good time to put a fashion campaign together.
“There is so much that goes into every shoot,” said Cale. “You have to scout locations months in advance, pull city permits, hire cops, hire fashion stylists, models, make-up-hairstylist, videographer, photographer, etc. It takes months to get it all set up and in the end, there is always something the client changes.”
“You just have to go with the flow,” said Cale.
Specht says the main focus of the campaign will be web based this season with the new fall imagery running on their website as of the first week of September.
Several of Hoboken’s iconic locations were used to bring all the ideas of the fall campaign to light. It is also a walking city. What better place to showcase shoes?
“Hoboken has so much to offer,” said Cale. “With a great young, trendy demographic and many amazing locations – both on the waterfront and around town, it makes shooting multiple brands easy.”
“To me, the best part was just being able to shoot in the town I love,” said Cale. “Being able to share it with others through the video and pictures we took is something that just puts a big smile on my face. Although, watching one of our models do the Irish jig in the middle of the shoot was pretty amazing too. That girl was good!”