Brands to Watch

It’s easy to critique brands. From weak storytelling to missed opportunities, when it comes to branding we are all born critics. But what about the brands that are doing it well? The brands that push categories further, that in fact inspire the rest of us toward innovation and reinvention. MISC magazine’s brand team give you the brands we’re watching and why.

Check back soon for more inspiration from the MISC brand team.


Products rooted in a sense of a place have a layer of brand authenticity not easily replicated. For Hiut Denim that sense of place is fundamental to the creation of the company; and the brand story is as uncommon as they come. The story begins in Cardigan, Wales, a small manufacturing town that made jeans until the factory closed and moved offshore in 2002. A decade later local husband-and-wife team David and Claire Hieatt saw an opportunity in the town’s latent talent. Today they make small batches of high quality jeans with equal concentration paid to the big picture (a patient 10 year approach to becoming a global brand) and the small details (each pair comes with a unique number encouraging customers to register their pair of denim online and share memories).

Momofuku's cookie mix, now readily available in your own kitchen
Momofuku’s cookie mix, now readily available in your own kitchen

Momofuku – building the next foodie empire?

He might not know how to feel about it, but David Chang is the new Jamie Oliver. Like Jamie, Emeril and Wolfgang before him, Chang’s brand has outgrown the restaurants he presides over. Today Momofuku – meaning Lucky Peach and sharing a name with the inventor of instant noodles – is synonymous with the rock star chef’s class and culture-colliding approach to food. With friends in the right places (see Bourdain), his own television show, exclusives at Williams-Sonoma, a quarterly food journal and a cult-like following, Momofuku has all the ingredients to take the CPG world by storm.


Help Remedies – flawlessly combining purpose and product  

Help Remedies burst onto the scene in 2008 with distinctly different packaging and perfectly polished brand. It’s hard to believe this ‘little pharma’ company has been pushing its less-is-more positioning to disrupt over-the-counter medicine for over five years. Whether it’s getting involved in political health debates or turning a simple bandage into a life saving kit, Help finds new ways to flawlessly combine its clear brand purpose and positioning with smart product innovation. And, with playful content like  “Help I am going bald” and “Help I’m sexually frustrated” currently on the website, perhaps we’re getting a glimpse of their innovation pipeline.

Davines' packaging

Davines – reimaging the future of beauty

As beauty continues to move toward interior and exterior notions of health, it’s no wonder that food is becoming a principle ingredient found in beauty products. The Momo line from Italian beauty brand Davines seems to be taking things one step further: formulating products inspired by cooking itself. With recipes tied to the natural active ingredients found in their products, and packaging more reminiscent of food typically found in the fridge, Davines is moving beyond the mere incorporation of food-based ingredients teasing at the future of what we like to call fresh beauty.

FUBU 4th Style Leder contest from DoubleJ on Vimeo.

FUBU – recognizing & responding to an unlikely opportunity

Yes, that FUBU. The hip-hop apparel brand FUBU, an acronym for, “For Us, By Us”, was a cultural touchstone, symbolic of African-American upward mobility and economic expansion in the 1990s. But for all its ubiquity, the brand eventually suffered from what may at the time have seemed like a good problem: it became too popular . . . with the wrong people. Associated with wannabes and posers, FUBU’s authenticity was compromised. As the brand faded into obscurity though, an opportunity was recognized in South Korea, where Samsung was an early investor. The clothing was being adopted by sporty skaters and clubbers in South Korea. Today, FUBU is finding renewed success with endorsements from K-Pop acts like T.O.P. and Lee Seung-gi. Founder, Daymond John, has commented that “For Us By Us” stands for people who love music culture, and is not limited by to any specific group. What remains to be seen is whether FUBU’s credibility in South Korea will feed back into the North American market.

*Big thanks to Kirstin Hammerberg, Rob Bolton and Martha Twidale for their contribution in pulling this together. 

the author

Sean Hazell

Sean Hazell is head of brand innovation at Idea Couture. He is based in Toronto, Canada.