RegretsOnly energises nostalgic ephemera in their revival of US workwear brand The Big Favorite
Beginning in the 1930s, The Big Favorite is an American workwear brand founded on principles of quality and durability. Now relaunched by the founder’s great-granddaughter, the values have remained the same, but with a primary focus on transparency and sustainability – producing clothes entirely made of recycled fabric salvaged from the nearly 5000 tonnes of undergarment textile waste thrown away in the US on a daily basis.
Inspired by the drive behind the company, Boston-based design studio RegretsOnly took on the task of crafting their identity, seeing the opportunity to create a system that is not only inspired by sustainability but is itself innately recycled. Taking advantage of the existing brand ephemera from the early 20th Century, RegretsOnly remixed the graphic styling, and with it, the inherent nostalgia felt as a result, with a contemporary aesthetic understanding resulting in a refreshing, exciting and unexpected brand.
“The original logo was one of my favourite parts of the original branding, so it was really a case of not fixing what wasn’t broken,” RegretsOnly’s founder Caleb Halter explains, “and instead using the spirit and charm of that aesthetic to guide the rest of the work.” Due to the focus on circularity, Halter recalls the significance of visually re-using elements, telling us “it was hugely important to re-use as much as we could from an identity perspective and not impose anything extraneous when we already had such a strong foundation of elements to build on.” Working closely with the CEO, Halter explains the amazing access to curiosa they had, including the CEO great-grandfather’s original scrapbook and memorabilia. “Originally all of that source material was just on a single slide meant to brief us on the work,” Halter explains “but it became immediately clear that that was the work,” needing to find a way to honourably bring it back to life.
The specific image treatment created for the brand is a homage to the retro-rendering of the classic stamps and details from the original ephemera, resulting in a “hyper-contrast xeroxing” used to unify the plethora of graphic elements. “Most of the stamps were generated from iPhone photos!” Halter explains, “by using the same look on the type, I think it helped all the graphics within the system gel nicely so that the type felt of the same DNA as the stamps.”
In a further example of simplification, the brand has a very succinct colour palette of simply black, white and yellow. “The thinking there was to keep things as iconic as possible so we could establish a really clear image of the brand in people’s minds,” Halter suggests, eventually landing on raincoat yellow after many trials and tribulations. “I think it does a great job of having a strong point of view without directly telling you who it’s for gender or age-wise,” he tells us “or what you’re meant to feel but rather lets the photography give each piece that added layer of character, emotion and fun.”
The photography in question, Halter explains, is a hugely important part of how the brand is experienced and understood, telling us “because the graphics are all so nostalgic, it was important for our photography to feel very current so that in tandem you have a sort of past-present-future takeaway.” Taking the form of a style guide, the photographic shoots were simplified to ‘People, Planet and Product’, which was then considered further down the line during framing, styling, treatment and colour correction.
Being a self-proclaimed Klim Type Foundry fan-boy, being guilty of continually pitching their typography for different projects, Halter finally found a way to utilise the “beautiful structural details” that he is obsessed with. “For this project, I wanted something to help glue together the graphics which are distinctly retro, and the photography which feels very current,” Halter explains, landing on Futura for the brands “chunky, sturdy headline.” The supporting typeface is Pitch, chosen for its more machined and ‘blue-collar’ tone of voice and technical detailing.