Ugly gets attention

Can this be a good thing? Here are two things that started out ugly upon intro, then turned into classics and created brands that still exist today. What’s the cause of this? Was it a tipping point? Or some disruptive technology? Or some designer trying to be different. Or just a component of time and dumb luck? Maybe a mix of all.

1985 Air Jordans, if these shoes were on Quinten Dailey, would they have done so well? In Jordan’s book, Driven from Within, one passage goes something like this. Tinker (of Nike) shows prototype shoes to Michael (and I think they were the black versions, even uglier), MJ says, these shoes are ugly; I’m not wearing these on the court. Tinker convinces him to give them a try. A week or so later, MJ says, man, these shoes feel great, they’re light and provide great support, but everyone on the team are laughing at the way these shoes look, Tinker goes on to say, but MJ, they ARE looking at your shoes, right??…Michael got it and went with it. A big part of the success of Jordan I’s, they got noticed. Sure it helped that MJ went on to be the best player ever in the NBA (my opinion). Regardless, a brand is born.

1985 Suzuki GSXR 750. This bike was just not a nice looking bike. This was the same year Kawasaki came out with the Ninja and everyone wanted that bike, even the name “Ninja” and the ad campaign, samurai’s cutting things up, was that bad ass or what?! Long story short, the GSXR cut up the circuit in the amateur ranks and quickly became THE bike to have if you were serious about riding. The bike went through some “aero” redesign in 1988, but the GSXR legend had been established and a brand was born. Yeah, one might say it’s still ugly, but take a close look at the 1996 Ducati Monster tank and overall design. Slightly odd sculpting and proportions, and with the GSXR fairings off, lots of similarity. I’m not saying the Italians ripped off Suzuki, but maybe were inspired by something in the past. (That is if you think the Monster is a nice looking bike)

Seems like sometimes ugly can work. But ugly can’t stand on its own. Performance, it has to be there. Oh, and strong advertising helps too, like Spike Lee said, “its gotta be the shoes”. That said in today’s world, beauty can’t stand on its own either. In a perfect world, things would start off beautiful, have the performance and/or depth to back it up AND get the right stories told about it. The world isn’t perfect but here’s something to think about. As nature proves, some things start off ugly, but reach a state of beauty, like butterflies or babies! (Come on, babies right out of the chute, not so nice!!) So that must mean there’s always hope for things, ugly.

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