Warby Parker has just released a new ad, "The Literary Life Well Lived," capitalizing on nostalgia for New York City's now-gone literary culture, which apparently consisted of relentless hard drinking, boxing matches and printed newspapers. The glasses e-tailer has a strong vintage aesthetic, but whenever fashion takes up literary culture, the results tend to be disastrous*. Glossy magazines and brands do a fantastic job of producing whimsical photos of pretty women jumping up and down with bundles of bright balloons at Parisian cafes, but when it comes to stylizing a world that resembles our own and mirroring it back to us, the result is often tone deaf and tasteless. When fashion photographs books, to choose a relevant example, it treats them as set pieces or fetish objects — the subtext is never, This is a good book, isn't reading fun? Instead it's, Don't you want to be the kind of person who reads books? Warby Parker frames will help you be that kind of person. Too transparent.
*Consider the outcry in response to Vice's recent spread showing famous female writers in the moments before they committed suicide. The publication eventually pulled the editorial offline and issued an apology.