Los Angeles-based fashion brands Buck Mason and For Love & Lemons have collaborated to tell a love story–and market their respective clothing lines–in two separate short films dubbed Homeward, which are both being released online November 11.
While one of the Homeward films, titled Lost shares the story from the perspective of the man in the relationship, a native Texan (played by Travis Farris) who lives in Los Angeles and longs to return home to the ranch, we see the situation from the point-of-view of the woman who loves her boyfriend but doesn’t want to leave L.A. and the life and career she has built there in Found, the other film. (You might recognize the actress in this role–her name is Jessy Schram, and she played Pete Campbell’s real estate agent girlfriend Bonnie Whiteside on Mad Men last season.)
In a bit of a departure from typical fashion films, the story, settings, and actors are all quite relatable, which was the idea given that Buck Mason is a down-to-Earth brand, known for its American-made basics for men.
The Homeward project actually originated at Buck Mason, an upstart co-founded just last year by Sasha Koehn and Erik Schnakenberg, and at the outset, there were no plans to partner with another brand. Director Phillip Montgomery had approached the guys with the idea of making a film that embodied the values of Buck Mason, and Koehn and Shnakenberg, who have thus far eschewed traditional advertising, loved the idea. “We want to introduce our brand to new customers in the most authentic way possible, which also requires (our) being a lot smarter and a lot more creative than jumping into a traditional paid media strategy,” Koehn says. “So we continually try to push the barriers and limits on content whether it’s video, photography, or writing that we can distribute to communicate with new customers.”
After that initial pitch, Montgomery ultimately returned to Koehn and Shnakenberg with a script and story designed to explore the idea of where home is, which relates to Buck Mason’s dedication to bringing manufacturing back home by producing its clothes in the U.S.
How did one film become two? “As Phil kept revising the script, he saw the female lead becoming more and more complex and a bigger part of what we were doing, and then somewhere along the line, I think it might have been Sasha that said, ‘What if this was two films?’” Shnakenberg recalls, adding, “When it became two films, that was when it seemed logical to let the female film embody a female brand, and we realized that could be interesting from a marketing perspective.”
So Buck Mason set out to find a female-oriented brand to work with, and For Love & Lemons rose to the top of the list. While the Buck Mason guys had never worked with Gillian Rose Kern and Laura Hall, the designers behind For Love & Lemons, which has more than 800,000 Instagram followers, they were acquaintances with offices nearby in L.A.’s downtown arts district, and Koehn and Shnakenberg were fans of the line from a pair who started their company back in Jackson Hole, Wyoming before moving to the West Coast. “They have this sexy, contemporary, relevant brand, and their design is fantastic,” Shnakenberg says.
And there is synergy here: It certainly doesn’t hurt to introduce the For Love & Lemons female customer base to Buck Mason, Koehn points out, noting that the boyfriends and husbands of these women are potential customers of the menswear brand.
Like the team from Buck Mason, the crew from For Love & Lemons was an active participant in the making of the films, produced by Man Made Content (a new media content studio co-founded by Koehn), working on costume design and allowing co-directors Montgomery and Josh Franer, who was also cinematographer and is a partner in Buck Mason as well as one of the founders of Man Made Content, access to their office where they shot much of the second film.
The production crew also went on location to Decatur, Texas, shooting at a ranch for 10 days. “Our lead actor is from Texas, and he’s lived in LA for 10 years, and the moment he set foot on Texas soil, he became a completely different guy. He was so into that character. He was just a cowboy. It was so wild,” says Koehn, who was there for the shoot with Shnakenberg.
Beyond the two Homeward films, Buck Mason is bringing the marketing effort to Instagram beginning November 11, with the brand relying on content partners to help seed the hashtag #letsdefinehome. The hope is that people will extend the conversation generated by the film by contributing images that represent what home means to them.