February 21, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Wearable game weaves clues into cloth

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According to Jillian Hertzman, an analyst for The Intelligence Group, which follows pop-culture trends, Small and his designers may well be onto something.

Game element aside, "I definitely think they would sell on their own as clothes," Hertzman said. "You should see some of the things out there that people buy."

"My personal view is that it won't look like ARGs of the past, but it will be interesting."
--Jonathan Waite, senior editor, ARGN

But to succeed from a marketing standpoint, she explained, it will be important for Edoc Laundry to focus on the game aspect of its clothing. And that is going to mean making sure they don't try to overreach.

"I think it's really important that they sell (the clothing) in specific places," Hertzman said. "I don't think they'll be selling them in mall stores."

Kim agreed. She thinks that because of the line's high-concept nature, it won't do so well in the Macy's-type stores of the world.

"I think that the graphics and the styles are more geared toward boutique stores, and not a general department store," Kim said.

Meanwhile, given that clues embedded into the designs printed on the clothing are subtle, or in some cases even woven into the interior of the garments, Edoc Laundry faces a challenge in trying to make it clear that its line has something extra to offer.

As such, the company is pushing a slogan, "Our clothes tell secrets," that it hopes will pique the curiosity of potential buyers.

The clothes will also come with swing tickets--the little cardboard tags hanging off new clothes--detailing the game and how it works.

And while Edoc Laundry hopes its customers will buy multiple garments, it's also realistic that some people, in a bid to solve the game's mystery, will simply go online and find images from the clothing that were uploaded by those who have bought a shirt or a hat. But that doesn't bother them.

"My whole thing is, if they're talking about (our line) for the next 30 minutes, I have done more for one T-shirt than I've ever done in my whole life," Small said. "The best you're usually going to get is, 'Hey, I like your T-shirt.'"

Yet the company is also hopeful that once the word gets out about the clothes, and a critical mass of interested followers develops, sales will follow.

In any case, given that Edoc Laundry has chosen clothing as the medium for its new game, it has to deal with the fact that with new seasons come new garments. As such, the company plans to come out with what amounts to new episodes of the game with each new seasonal line.

In the end, those who are familiar with ARGs and the track record of the people behind Edoc Laundry think that the company is likely doing something special.

"My personal view is that it won't look like ARGs of the past, but it will be interesting," said Waite of ARGN. "Knowing the people that are behind it...if they're going to put a game out there, it's going to be substantial and it's going to have some quality content to it. These are people who have a great curiosity for where they can go next."

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