What Gives the Logo Its Legs? Here’s why.
“As recently as a year ago, you didn’t wear logos,” she said. “You had to be discreet.”
But a glance at the crowd at Fendi’s Madison Avenue flagship — matrons, films stars and assorted style-world moguls tricked out in Fendi logo regalia — persuaded her otherwise. “Nowadays everything is allowed,” Ms. Silvarolli said. “Nothing is too much.”
Fendi is among the latest in a raft of luxury labels to advance the proposition that too much is never enough. Emboldened by the success of logo-ridden skate wear brands like Palace and Supreme, high-end labels including Prada, Balenciaga, Valentino and Chanel have joined the stampede, their monograms stamped on everything from hats to hosiery and, with a nod to the 1990s, the elastic bands of men’s skivvies.
Chanel, spring 2019.Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
It’s the trend that keeps going and going. This fall, fans of the hypebeast culture can choose from logo-embellished Balenciaga pullovers and embroidered Gucci slippers at Barneys New York, Off-White sweatshirts and camouflage jackets at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Vetements parkas at 10 Corso Como, the newly alighted Milanese purveyor of cooler-than-thou luxury wares in Lower Manhattan.
Even mass market chains are championing the movement, like Zara, whose stores and website are awash in logo coats, shawls and frocks. So pervasive is fashion’s logo fixation that it vies with, and even outpaces, that of previous, more overtly ostentatious eras.
Logomania’s checkered past dates from the ’60s and ’70s, buoyed in those decades by an outpouring of licensed wares: Courrèges double C’s and Bill Blass back-to-back B’s affixed to sunglasses, satchels and all manner of unlikely tchotchkes. Logos flourished again in the late ’80s and ’90s as strident, some say garish, symbols of wealth — and the brash insignia of the hip-hop generation — and then faded.
Valentino, spring 2019.Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
They bounced back in the 2000s, only to make a shamefaced retreat in the wake of the 2008 stock market collapse, too showy to display on the streets.
The rise of athletic sportswear and the mainstreaming of once marginal street wear labels have given the trend its latest push, propelling it to the catwalks, where it has thrived intermittently for a number of years. Still, given their erratic up and down trajectory, logos by now should again be heading for the tacky airport shop or the outlet mall.
So it seems perverse that fashion’s love affair with splashy status badges shows no signs of cooling. Logos raced like a contagion through the spring 2019 collections, breaking out on camp shirts and chain belts at Chanel, on hosiery and sneakers at Prada, on epaulets at Balenciaga and spreading over entire ensembles at Gucci, the luxury house that has been widely credited with lending this trend its impetus.
“Right now,” said Anna Ross, the associate women’s wear editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting service, “there seems to be no expiration date.”
So what gives logos their staying power?
For starters, the look is being reimagined in a way that speaks expressly to the young. “Chanel, Fendi and others have obviously seen a huge amount of social currency in appealing to a millennials and Generation Z,” Ms. Ross said. Those bands of streetwise consumers flaunt initialed T-shirts, boots, sneakers, belts and totes with a dash of irony.
“For a brand, this may not be the most subtle marketing strategy,” she added, “but companies see that it’s working.”
Fendi, taking a page from street wear, plans to drop limited-edition logo-stamped products at regular intervals. “We like the idea of limited editions,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director of accessories and men’s wear at the label. “Younger consumers like that you can get the item, then its gone, making way for something new. For us, it’s a way of not being predictable.”
Prada, spring 2019.Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
A similar wisdom impelled Burberry last month to introduce a monogram collection, fresh renditions of its T-shirts stamped with the interlocking TB’s (the initials of Thomas Burberry, the company’s founder), a move conceived to invoke the company’s decades-long heritage. Variations of the monogram shirt will be released each month on the company’s social media and mobile apps.
For some brands, glutting the marketplace with highly visible logo products acts as a kind of safety net, helping sustain the bottom line, said Roma Cohen, an owner of Alchemist, an outpost of cutting-edge fashions in Miami Beach. Such signature wares, he noted, are often funneled into the gray market.
Mr. Cohen was using an industry term for goods sold by luxury brands to retailers that resell them to other stores or agents not necessarily approved by the brand. Unlike counterfeit goods, these products are legitimate, proliferating in locales as far-flung as China, Italy, Turkey and Tunisia.
In Milan, strollers show off a Gucci bag, left, and a Supreme x Louis Vuitton belt bag .Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Such hyper-saturation carries risks. “These rides are like a roller coaster,” Mr. Cohen said. “Relying on logos can take you to your peak right away. But it can also date you and leave you in the shadow of the next hot brand.”
For now, the trend retains its relevance, firmly rooted in its time. Social media is its driver, the logos resonating with those selfie addicts who like to flash their heavily monogrammed trophies on Snapchat and Instagram, their status readily identifiable on an image the size of a postage stamp.
But status is not the only draw. Younger people are adopting logos to signal their allegiance to a tribe or cause, said Milton Pedraza, the founder and chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a consulting firm in New York. Flashing Gucci double G’s can be read as a homage to the company, which has publicly championed gender fluidity and turned its back on fur.
In Milan, billboarding the Gucci logo with a multitone sweater and belt. Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images
“For youthful fans, the Gucci logo is a tag, a way of stating, ‘I am socially responsible,’” Mr. Pedraza said. “It gives you a very clear identity that goes beyond a fashion statement.”
No question, though: Logomania both mirrors and mocks a climate of creeping vulgarity, one wittily exploited by stars including Rihanna, who paraded a glittering papal costume at the Met’s Costume Institute gala in May, and by the producers of the “Real Housewives” franchise.
“It could be a Trump-era phenomenon,” said Paula Chamblin, an interior designer and fashion stylist who had dropped by the Fendi celebration last month wearing the company’s FF boots and bag.
Ms. Chamblin’s gear was by no means intended to signal “an in-your-face attitude,” she said. It was instead a cheerful nod to upbeat times and a robust economy, she said, a visual statement announcing, “I’m happy to be where I’m at.”
In Berlin, wrapped in a Gucci cardigan and toting a companion Chanel bag. Christian Vierig/Getty Images
What sets logomania apart in this go-round is its function as a kind of social leveler, a trend accessible in one form or another to both Howard Street skateboarders and the Gucci-shod denizens of the Upper East Side. As ubiquitous on gilt chain belts and snakeskin bags as they are on hoodies, backpacks and their street-inflected kin, logos have a way of upending conventional notions of status, wealth and taste.
There is humor in the trend and a piquant irony, said Sharon Graubard, a partner in Mint Moda, a trend forecasting firm in New York. Devotees often flaunt initials with a wink, embracing status logos as yet another coy expression of the “so bad it’s good’ zest for ugly chic that gave rise in recent months to designer crocs and scrunchies.
One thing is certain: “This is not Melania with her perfect Gucci belt,” Ms. Graubard said. “In the end, it’s subversive, you know.”
The article appeared originally in the nytimes.com.