Deconstructing Logomania

Why branding is bigger and bolder than ever before.

Who could forget the early 2000s? Juicy Couture tracksuits, Ed Hardy tees, and other questionable fashion choices were everywhere. Kanye West was mostly famous for never taking off his monogrammed Louis Vuitton backpack and clothing was increasingly becoming a status symbol to the everyday consumer, something previously relegated to the upper echelons of society. A century ago, the latest fashion was something imported from France that no normal consumer would know to even ask for. In the 80s, gaudy logos like the Versace Medusa head started a trend, pushing against the fashion establishment which preferred a subtler and more nuanced form of gatekeeping. In the 2000s, anybody could display their success on their sleeve, just by wearing the right brands with bold enough designs. Clothing has always been a kind of communication, a means of distinguishing class, and now the playing field was open to everyone.

Then, the 2008 financial crisis struck, putting a swift stop to the showy maximalism of the trend, and leading to the minimalist influences we’ve seen dominate the 2010s. Thrifting and normcore were the children of economic turmoil, as were the millennials who predominantly adopted the styles. However, irony has wormed its way into the hallowed halls of high-fashion with many young trend-makers reexamining the best and worst trends of the past decades with an almost mischievous eye. Demna Gvasalia, of Vetements fame, subverted how branding was used to display wealth with his irreverent and infamous DHL tee, a $400 yellow T-shirt with the name of a courier company on it. They sold out almost instantly, becoming the definitive item among the streetwear aficionados of the time.

Other high-fashion labels, like Virgil Abloh’s OFF-WHITE and Gucci under Alessandro Michele, began to take inspiration from the thriving black market of fake fashion. Large, almost invasive logos and tongue-in-cheek designs referenced their poorly constructed counterparts. In a stroke of unintended genius, the effort put into making these meticulously designed pieces look fake makes them even harder to imitate.

This kind of maximalist attitude towards branding has only continued to gain momentum. Dior Homme’s new monogram was worn by almost every celebrity who cared and in forms ranging from tote bags to Air Jordan 1. The aforementioned Abloh zoomed in on the LV logo for beautifully embossed leather pieces in his debut collection and even Fendi’s famous interlocking Fs took the spotlight for the first time in decades.

The real question is, how does all this high-fashion theory trickle down to the way we dress? Certain looks are cultural staples, like the top-to-bottom Nike or adidas tracksuit with the sneakers to match. Others are outright impossible for the everyday person, either due to expense or availability. The key is to take inspiration without being unduly influenced by what’s trending. A great and easy way to do this is to look for a brand that you love and to rep it proudly. Bonus points if you’re supporting a local brand. Doubling or tripling up on logos and branded pieces is a way to create an eye-catching and holistic outfit. Mixing and matching used to be a bad idea but as collabs between brands continue to increase, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. Our golden rule? Just make sure the sneakers match the socks.

Yours in style.