Inkstable has been dedicated to changing the pen industry since its inception. Many of our writers are interested in updating the market for the modern age and, by extension, growing its customer base. While no one expects to change things overnight, it’s small incremental changes that can make a big difference for any pen brand.
Recently, I was thinking about this. I was reading an old copy of Vogue Italia and it got me thinking: what if the pen industry was like the fashion industry? Could the pen sector of the market emulate the fashion house behemoths to create sustained buzz in the marketplace? Could budgets extend to capture the essence of the brand as well as the product’s marketability itself? Could, in fact, there be fashion shows, seasons, runway-ready pens? Well, the more I thought about it, I don’t see why not.
The first thing that I think would be easiest would be to add seasonality to pen releases across the board. Right now, it seems that there is a steady drip-drip-drip of pens coming from brands to remain in front of customers. This has created a convoluted marketplace that requires a constant birds-eye view of the industry to even know what’s out there. Instead, it would be better to take a breath and release pens on a more formalized schedule. Brands could do Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter releases, ultimately giving audiences a chance to really see the products and talents that exist in the industry without having to scroll through Instagram daily to see what you may have missed.
This would also be an asset to the operational aspect of the pen community. Retailers would be able to forecast their stock better and sell on a cycle versus picking up an order here and there. Further to this, being on a seasonal rotation similar to fashion shows would help with global supply chain issues. People would have advanced notice of delays to pivot accordingly.
And speaking of fashion shows, why doesn’t the pen industry hold any? Otto Hutt recently held a very good livestream which showcased their offerings for 2022. This should be across the board standard. I’m not talking models walking around holding a new ballpoint, but I am thinking of movement, conversation, and dialogue with the products versus another catalogue.
And finally, the pen industry should be putting money behind editorial work. I still believe in the power of print and other than a few giants in the industry, there is rarely a pen ad other than in trade publications like Pen World. By investing money to get the feel of the product, not just a flatlay of the product itself, one opens up the possibilities of adjacent markets and new customer bases. Fashion brands don’t sell products, they sell a lifestyle. I don’t think the pen industry is too different.
You see, I’m not looking to revolutionize the pen industry to be something it’s not. A square peg will not fit in a round hole. But, I am interested in providing pen enthusiasts with an experience that isn’t driven by brand competition or a bottom line. I think the pen industry would benefit from a new way to gain hype around products while letting people experience their brands in new ways. And I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty excited to see what a Spring/Summer Montblanc show would look like in Paris.
I have poweful reservations about the manufacturing of pens (I do not say industry because the term has implications of mass production) behaving like the fashion industry and if it did, will lose a lot of its clout. First of all the joy of the chase, “looking” for the new pen, will be lose and we, pen lovers, shall all begin to be spoon fed, what to buy and what not to. Second, because I considervthe fountain pen to be the epitome of civilisation, I would never wish to see it adopt the brutal tactics of the fashion industry that somehow hides behind the glamour. Just look take note of how many models are abused and even worse, the awful allocation of natural resources and appalling waste. So think twice before presenting such recommendations.
PS. I am a fashion observer, purchase a few high end products, therefore always informed. Gihan