Little Italy

A look at an Italian sportswear company’s Seattle-based ad campaign.

By Laura Cassidy January 7, 2011


There I was minding my own business, making my way through the omnipresent half-read stack of expensive foreign fashion magazines, when I paused and then paused some more on a glossy full-page ad inside the London-based fashion mag, 10.

I really can’t say what it was that stopped me. I was not drawn to the clothing, and the image wasn’t particularly striking, but there was a sense of familiarity that I couldn’t name, define, or page past.

For a minute I tried to get inside the image … What do these people in their copiously patchworked denim and extra-long socks want me to feel?

At this point I hadn’t even noted who the advertiser was, though if pressed I might have said something like American Eagle – that’s how aggressively rumpled, American, and well, average, the look was. At that point my eye darted to the upper right hand corner where daylight just barely blurred a street sign that read, ‘Ballard Ave.’ From there I scanned down the cobblestone-y street, past fingerless knit gloves and a denim miniskirt, to the bottom of the page where I saw, ‘Replay,’ and then, ‘October 2 Saturday, 2p.m. Ballard Avenue Seattle.

The magazine was ejected, the laptop was retrieved, and a minute later I was on clicking on a prominent link labeled, ‘Fall Winter 2010 Advertising Campaign,’ where I discovered that an entire set of images shot by Chad Pitman, a New York-based photographer, in and around Seattle made up the Italian sportswear line’s most recent advertising initiative. The site even includes a map of the shoot locations, should, say, residents of Rome be inspired to book passage to the New World to see just what this .. how you say … Ballard Avenue is all about.

Did everyone know this but me? I Googled every combo of ‘photo shoot,’ ‘ad campaign,’ ‘Seattle,’ and ‘Replay’ that I could think of but couldn’t uncover anyone making any noise about it – although I did find local production company the Production Foundry’s behind the scenes video of the shoot on Vimeo.

It’s not that I expected an archived King 5 news segment – or even a spot on one of those townsy afternoon women’s shows. I would expect – demand – that if Karl Lagerfeld showed up in Greenlake to snap images for the next season of Chanel ads.

But here’s the thing, and I’m sorry if this makes me kind of emo, but the notion of Italian – or at least New York – art directors picking our town as a backdrop does stir up a decidedly prideful kind of something or other in me. It’s worth noting, non? And I can’t help but wonder: Where did the crew stay? Where did the models eat? Did they shop while they were here? What did they buy? How do you say, in Italian, ‘Oh this? Just something I picked up when I was in Seattle.’

So okay, okay, noted. Just in the nick of time, here in the netherland of not fall/winter 10 and not spring/summer 11. If you missed the ads, a couple of the shots are in the slideshow here, and for now at least (what’s next? spring/summer in Council Bluffs, Iowa?) they’re all on Replay’s site – where, you’ll note the sun is almost always shining here in Seattle, even if ‘we’ are just a little bit moody and pensive.

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