I ♥ NY? More like I ♥ BK! Over the past twenty-plus years, The Island has been ceding its monopoly on cool as the southeastern borough gains popularity. Brooklyn has long been defined by experimentation and innovation, and today it draws creative minds from around the world to its pleasant brownstones and industrial lofts. And of course, businesses are eager to capitalize on Brooklyn’s cutting-edge appeal, with a growing number of Brooklyn-branded goods popping up in New York and internationally. What happens when a borough becomes more than just a borough? We examine the complexities of the Brooklyn brand after the jump.
Brooklyn’s come to stand for an alternative to Manhattan, the “downtown cool” of which has been irreparably tarnished by Wall Street greed and dirty politics. Everyone wants a taste of BK flavor. Smaller, local establishments, like Brooklyn Brewery, Breuckelen Distilling, Brooklyn Brine, and Gorilla Coffee, provide artisanal drinks, fare, and wares. Last year, a jazz bar called Brooklyn Parlor opened in Tokyo; over the summer Absolut launched a national line of Brooklyn vodka; and Brooklyn Industries now reaches Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Portland.
This demand suggests that the backlash against mass-produced, big-box America created a niche market for more exclusive, handcrafted products — a niche Brooklyn’s hip reputation can easily accommodate. There could be consequences to its newly found popularity, however. The mass appeal will undoubtedly diminish its authenticity, or at least its perceived authenticity. Companies scrambling to distinguish themselves from the rest could undermine the name’s credibility and cause the very foundation that makes it cool to collapse.
Styles shift, trends come and go, and consumers are quick to hop on the next cool thing. To maintain its authority as it becomes an internationally recognized brand, Brooklyn must stick to what it knows and does best — focusing on locally operated and owned organizations that revolve around the diverse communities thriving within its boundaries. Or else, who knows? Staten Island could be next on your radar…
PHOTO CREDIT: Cameron Russell /flickr.com