The Furry Fandom is a great center for entrepreneurship. There’s plenty of furs who start their own business doing art, stories, and enamel pins. Some furs even started their own companies, like Rabbit Valley Publishing and Tall Tail Studios.
So, It was no surprise this past week when I heard that there was a new fursuit maker on the block. Except this fursuit maker was aiming for something different from other makers.
Enter Zweitesich, hopeful new fursuit maker on the block. The brand was attempting to set their sights a little higher than most fursuit makers. Though, it seems like they may have aimed a little too high and put off some potential fans. Let’s take a closer look.
Zweitesich? What’s That?
Zweitesich – I’ll call them Zwe for short – is a pre-made mini partial fursuit company that debuted earlier this month on April 16th. Zwe attempted to market itself as “The First Fursuit Designer Brand.” It was also attempting to bring what they viewed as more “class” and “elegance” to fursuit making.
But what does “Zweitesich” even mean?
According to the site’s About page, “Zweitesich” relates to the German concept of the “Second Self.” An alter ego. Kinda like the furry fandom’s own fursonas.
The “Second Self” is often seen as the most authentic version of one’s self. So it seems like Zweitesich is trying to channel this with their name and market. Kinda odd to do this with premade suits rather than taking orders from furs but it seems interesting regardless.
The “Current Triad” of suits consists of a Borzoi, Lion, and a Ram. All three are slated for a Summer 2019 release date. I’m guessing they’d be releasing new Triads every so often but…the site doesn’t tell you. What is it with furry sites and skimping out on the interesting info?
Each suit also has the company’s logo embossed on the cheek. This was super controversial to a lot of furries. I mean, who would like to carry a brand around like your character is some product?
The cost is also another controversial aspect. Sit down for this one. Ready? You’re looking at six thousand dollars for one of these. And they don’t even have a tail!
You do get other things besides the suit: concept art, a metallic logo made out of razors and needles destroyed in the making of the suit, original artwork, a tailored under vest, and more.
It sounds nice but…$6,000 is full suit levels of expensive. Lots of full suits will hit around the $3k – $6k range, so asking that for a mini partial? Ouch! Even if it’s “Designer” it’s still rough.
You’ll also get a “Certificate of Authenticity” and a “Rights to Ownership” as well. But this begs the question once again of if these are mass produced, or it’s first come first serve. The site, of course, doesn’t tell you.
I get the whole “Designer” thing like they’re trying to be the Louis-Vuitton of the fandom. But those designer brands have stood the test of time and earned their reputation.
Zwe has not; they have nothing to leverage for that hefty price other than their concept and the hefty price tag. That price tag does little more than give the illusion that this is on the level of Louis-Vuitton.
Zwe’s whole concept invited in a bit of controversy.
Something key about the fandom is it’s very “anti-commodity.” Sure, it’s built around folks buying and selling all kinds of arts and crafts.
But there’s a desire to keep the fandom from becoming “commodified.” Too “corporate” if that makes sense? Many furs see how these big companies are turning out, and fear for the fandom getting led astray like that.
Furs also value individuality and the expression of the self. Now, buying “premades” isn’t a bad thing. Many furs will buy premade suits or even others’ suits if they go on sale.
But with Zwe being unclear on if these are mass produced…well there’s where the concern is. Are you the only Zwe Ram on the block, or just one out of hundreds of Zwe Rams?
Not to mention the whole “Logo on the cheek” thing. Even if you do own the only Ram that Zwe made…you’re still branded. Like a product. A commodity.
The language used throughout Zwe’s website didn’t help much either. The whole “First Designer Fursuit” was not well received by other fursuit makers.
The site also talks about the benefits of Zwe’s suits and mentions “No measuring. And most importantly…no waiting.” Many suits need measurements and of course, these suits can take three to several months to make. Sometimes even a year if complex enough.
Yet here’s Zwe trying to act superior and once again putting down fursuit makers.
It seems not all is well with them though, as their official Twitter posted this on the same day they tried to debut. They also removed the ad from their timeline.
They would later follow up this apology with a more detailed account on April 18th.
So it seems the real reason for the language was due to the marketing team that Zwe had hired. Zwe had a feeling this might betray what the fandom is about, but circumstance and other factors allowed the hired marketing team to go ahead.
They uh…missed the mark here. And that’s putting it lightly.
The “Designer” concept can work, but it needs careful phrasing and presentation. Try a different word than “elegance”?
Especially since lots of furs and makers felt insulted by Zwe’s whole “Designer” branding. Lots of furs and makers posted a surge of Tweets celebrating their own suits or suit makers as being “Designer.”
Even though “Designer” comes from the line being named after the actual designer. So Zwe even missed the mark on that. I get that it’s a marketing buzzword, but still.
Some furs aren’t buying this, though. The one behind Zwe, Tayerr, is apparently no stranger to controversy. They also have done their own fursuit making before.
This begs the question of why they’d try to do Zwe instead of introducing a new line of suits under their name?
To Build A Better Brand
One of my main issues with Zwe – other than the botched marketing – is a lack of information. The thing is, this might be a furry’s first encounter with something branding itself “Designer.” I
Part of this could have been avoided if the website had content that explained things. Tell us what “Designer” even is and how a “Designer Suit” would be different from other suit makers. Or what “Triads” are and how that works.
Educated and get us interested in this new world of luxury! Zwe is the only “luxury” brand for fur suits out there. So it falls on them to be a sort of “ambassador” for that market.
They could also try having a cheaper “Step Up” fursuit that isn’t as expensive. Give us a small taste of what we’d get when going “all in.”
Or make them less expensive in general. When your partial fursuit (with no tail) is more than double the price of high-end partial fursuits…it’s time to rethink price.
I would’ve studied the prices and seen what the highest quotes were. Or at least what the best brands were in the fursuit game, and then charged double that. Maybe adjust the price a little, but have it still be more expensive to set that “top of the line designer” tone.
Again, it seems like this might be an interesting venture. But it needs a marketing team that understands the fandom or is willing to understand it.
A different approach and a more affordable product wouldn’t hurt either.
But what are your thoughts on this “Designer Fursuit”? Is Zwe on to something here, or should they not even bother?
And to my fellow nerds of other franchises, what if a maker suddenly offered “Designer Costumes” for whatever fandom you’re in? How do you think that’d go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.