The medium is the message; the return of emblazoned logos
In the eighties and nineties ‘the logo’ was the only way to be considered cool no matter what social group you were trying to get in with. Whether it was an Adidas track jacket or head-to-toe Louis Vuitton ala Madeline Kahn in High Anxiety, it didn’t matter, it was all about wearing your preferred brand emblazoned across your wardrobe. Burberry even saw its brand hijacked by ‘chavs’ with swatches of its iconic tartan stripe safety pinned to baseball caps.
However after the economic crash hit globally, an age of austerity ensued and with it a trend to shy away from the bold or garish. Minimalism and ‘normcore’ were the antidote to decades of excess and indulgence. Buzzwords like ‘statement piece’, ‘wardrobe staple’ and ‘investment’ filled the fashion zeitgeist. People needed to see their purchases transcend the seasons, which is much easier to do in a classic, non descript white shirt than it is in a tee plastered with interlocking ‘G’s.
But in the last few years, we have seen a steady return for the logo, this time, with a little more irony. Perhaps kicking it all off, the likes of Jeremy Scott’s collections for Moschino referencing brand like McDonald's, Hershey's and Froot Loops, that nod to Andy Warhol’s immortalisation of brands and Anya Hindmarch’s brand-jacking of household names like National Rail, Frosties and Boots. But most recently brands have responded to a social media generation by using platforms like Instagram as a new age billboard.
Calvin Klein revived their nineties My Calvins campaign with a hashtag and a slew of influencers sharing pictures of them wearing the logo emblazoned garments, including Man Repeller blogger Leandra Medine and model Kendall Jenner, who alone got a million ‘likes’ on one of her posts in three days.
Gucci and Chanel are the latest brands to capitalise on the influencer effect with their cruise collection t-shirts flooding Instagram feeds everywhere and being worn by the likes of fashion journalist, Pandora Skyes, founder of Fashionista, Sofia Valkiers and model and writer, Lucy Williams.
From an ethical standpoint, I wonder, is the revival of the logo a cheap campaign to connect with a visually stimulated generation or is it simply a traditional way to identify with a ‘tribe’?
Social tribes are inevitable and, can in many ways, be a healthy way to incite real change for many different issues. The slogan t-shirt has a long history of protesting; take for example Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Save the Arctic’ tee or the ‘Future is Female’ tee originally sold in the 70’s. Could the logo communicate a message in the same way?
When Emma Watson posts an outfit on Instagram, it is captioned with all of the brands, processes and causes that they represent. But imagine the power of Watson wearing a logo that stood for all of those causes. The power of celebrity endorsement is clear, could the ethical industry find a way to take rein of this modern way to communicate with an audience?