I’m sure many of you would have experienced this certain type of person: the brand obsessive. They fill their wardrobe with clothes that, despite being emblazoned with a designer logo, have little artistic merit; not reflective of the great connotations the specified fashion house usually has. Simply put, it is just an incredibly expensive white t-shirt. Such a person, however, makes sure that anyone in the vicinity knows what they spent by employing superficial tricks to show off; the most popular is tucking-in the front of their tee-shirt just enough to accentuate GG emblem at the front of their belt. I’m sure a couple of people come into mind when reading this and I’d hope that you’d join me in ridiculing them for falling for simple commercial tricks: indeed feeling good about yourself certainly comes at a heavy price these days.
However, major fashion houses appear to be exploiting and amplifying this as a concept behind recent runway and ready-to-wear collections. Anyone who keeps up with the latest big-brand releases knows that everything eventually filters down to the high street. Naturally, once Gucci had illuminated their shoes with their eponymous logo and pattern, the likes of Adidas and Nike followed in pursuit. Where is authenticity of labels disappearing too? Surely this deprivation of originality will soon wear its course, or will it? Are we really so dependent on a label that the everyday person is prepared to fork out a hundreds of pounds for something that looks designer but doesn’t come with quite the same price tag? For now it seems so.
2017 saw Maximalism make a huge comeback; fashion houses rejected the so called ‘Céline effect” and drowned their clothes in repeating logos, the Fendi monogram being perhaps one of the most memorable. The 1990’s were first honoured with hosting a round of brash logo trends, and for now it looks as though it is here to stay – but why? It appears to be a habit of humanity to exhibit their inner thoughts on what they wear, be that anything from ‘Good Vibes Only’ to ‘Nothing To Wear’. Yet, we must interrogate how we have moved from the cheap slogan shirt, to a much more expensive and arguably less witty version?
A popular argument that attributes to this derives from the economic and political insecurity we endured during 2017. The discord here has certainly lent itself to today’s social climate, with major influential countries continuing to experience upheaval. Whilst the consequences displayed throughout the real world have had incredibly serious impact, the fashion world appears to have clearly manifested itself using explicit logos. In times of trouble, people search for a sense of security; bold logos that identify themselves back to a brand, emblematic of stature, provides a form of stability currently absent.
“Serious fashion is ultimately tribal,’ says British Vogue Fashion Features Editor, Ellie Pithers. ‘The most obvious manifestation of that congenital instinct is a logo – wearing a brand on your sleeve aligns you with a house, a lifestyle and, in my case, a football team. I’ve been an Arsenal fan since birth and enjoy the ritual that comes with pulling on my jersey before watching each game, so I can understand why a Balenciaga or Saint Laurent fan might feel the same way.’
To accompany this logo obsession, major re-branding has taken place across many retailers. Take a look at Burberry: morphed from quintessential Englishness, to a now ultra-modern looking aesthetic and logo to match; an orange, white and beige interlocking ‘TB’ in tribute to the brand’s founder, Thomas Burberry.
More recently Céline too left behind her traditional modesty and under Hedi Slimane replaced it with, in the words of February 2019’s Harper’s Bazaar, ‘unapologetic wham-bam-glam-slam.’
Whilst I can understand the sentiment for familiarity, and can appreciate the wish to advertise your brand-new Burberry trench coat, should our priority in buying new clothes really be a logo loudly advertising where it is from? Surely there has to be more to fashion than just the flaunting of the brand in which it arrived? Designers work relentlessly work to demonstrate that fashion is more than just the clothes on our backs; it is a way of turning art into something lived. Muiccia Prada once said: “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”
I do concede that the occasional overt logo can look and feel good, I am worried about the way that this is heading and how we are defining ourselves by a brand because it is famous. Wear Chanel because you value the artistic merit in her pieces and you find that you can express yourself best when wearing it. There is a time and a place for logos but don’t let it define your wardrobe and certainly don’t let them define you.