Sunday, March 25, 2018

When the merch gets weird

We've had a few articles this week on "the Sherlock Holmes tartan" as the PR department of its registrants push the thing into the Sherlockian zeitgeist. Publicity photos show a guy dressed in a deerstalker and Invernesse cape made of the pattern, which really makes about as much sense as Sherlock Gnomes when you think about it.

Because, in the first place, Sherlock Holmes was not Scottish.

Tartans are typically the material for making your kilt out of, not your deerstalker. And Sherlock Holmes was never a kilt guy. Ever. Was there even a pastiche where he wore a kilt?

And in the second place, even if a Scottish Sherlockian wanted to wear a kilt in his honor, this thing does not invoke Sherlock Holmes whatsoever. If you showed it to someone out of context, they'd take one look and go "Hey! He's dressed up for St. Patrick's Day!" It's just that green.

Scottish-Irish mixed messages aside, the tartan's main provenance is that it was designed by the step-great-great-grandaughter of Conan Doyle, who had no direct descendants as Chris Redmond quickly pointed out on Twitter.

And now the Conan Doyle Estate is pushing for actors in Sherlock Holmes movies to wear this green monstrosity. The timing of its release to come out at the same time as the movie Sherlock Gnomes is interesting as Sherlock Gnomes wears a primarily green outfit that isn't the tartan in question. (The danger of it being called "the Sherlock Gnomes tartan" would be very real, if tartans and gnomes had any shot of going viral this weekend.)

Given that tartan patterns have a fairly limited market, I would suggest that a more profitable venture might be a Sherlock Holmes camo pattern. Coming from the midwest, where every Walmart and Bass Pro Shop is overflowing with camo pattern clothes and merchandise, I'm pretty sure camo is a bigger money-maker than tartans.

And really, when you come down to it, it makes just as much sense.

1 comment:

  1. Totally get your point. As one of the people in possession of a few pieces made with the tartan, I can attest to the shade and intensity of the colors--it is a rather muted forest green instead of the gaudy green it appears in photos. Aside from the design being touted by the Estate (who most likely rubbed their little hands with glee at encountering one of the few people on earth who naively had no knowledge of their litigated past and who paid their "licensing fee"), the tartan is a fun collector's item that adds nada to the overall enthusiast's Sherlockian experience. Much like "Sherlock Gnomes," though without the danger of having a cartoon character that sounds like Depp taking up space in one's lumberroom.