Let’s talk about the logo
What are the factors behind the success of the most renowned fashion houses? What makes their name create a buzz, evoke luxury and a series of unique associations? What gives them a sense of uniqueness and differentiates them from the crowd? Graphic designer Milton Glaser said, “A logo is the point of entry to a brand". Whether it consists of letters, symbols or a combination of both, the logo is already a complete message. Test marks and seals have served as proof of quality since ancient times, assuring authenticity and consistent standards for every product that leaves the assembly line since the Industrial Revolution, and ultimately evolved into an independent marketing tool that sells a particular lifestyle. What does today’s logo mean? Is it “good taste” to showcase it? The answer is not clear, though. Fashion is undoubtedly fluid and cyclical. Trends can arouse both admiration and confusion but they don’t last forever. They often depend on the context and, although it doesn't sound fair, also on who is wearing them. Find out if logomania is the trend for you.
The iconic check pattern decorating the lining of Burberry trench coats appeared in the 1920s, but only the cognoscenti knew of its existence for a long time. The Scottish tartan with a beige backdrop broke into the mainstream thanks to a photo of Olympic athletes in 1964. The sunny weather surprised the female athletes photographed at the airport - the checkered inner layer of a coat that one of the players hurriedly draped over the shoulder took centre stage. Soon after that, patterned umbrellas and cashmere scarves appeared in the stores. The distinctive graphic pattern became a symbol of social status and prominence, fitting in perfectly with the "Sloane Ranger" style that was very popular in London in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its main advantage was actually "inconspicuous visibility." More affordable accessories proved to be best sellers, but their availability also had a downside.
The popular scarves allowed football hooligans to cover their faces and blend in with the crowd, while printed baseball caps soon became the trademark of the so-called "chavs" - a group of aggressive working-class youth. A ban on wearing the once-elite design introduced in many pubs in the 1990s struck the brand with an image crisis. Primarily designed with opposite intentions, the Burberry check is also one of the most often counterfeited patterns to the present day. Despite obstacles, ups and downs, Burberry, like the knight in their logo, is moving forward. Today, without forgetting its heritage and tradition, the brand launches an inclusive offer that caters to different social groups, developing streetwear models with the same passion as the iconic trench coats - both illustrated with the same check motif.
Balenciaga and Vetements:
With each new wave of trend changes, the method brands present their house codes with is also evolving. In recent seasons, monograms have reigned supreme on the catwalks, often shamelessly covering entire products or even creating total looks - from apparel to accessories. The logos of fashion houses are also trending. Sans-serif fonts first appeared as early as 1816 due to their clarity and legibility even in extremely large or extremely small sizes, giving them an advantage in commercial print and adverts. Today, designers are once again appreciative of their simplicity, ease of adjustment to both billboard and phone screen sizes, as well as infinite possibilities for modifying and adding elements. Demna Gvasalia, the current creative director of Balenciaga, recognized the bold potential of the logo.
He’s taken haute couture from the red carpet to the streets and turned ordinary designs, like simple logo T-shirts, into true objects of desire. What will happen when something completely ordinary or even "unfashionable" is elevated to the status of luxury? In 2016, Vetements, a brand founded by Demna and his brother, gained a great deal of attention thanks to the logo of… DHL. The designer admitted that the logistics company is ubiquitous in his daily life since it’s a vital element in the operation of his brand. The logo catches the eye, evokes emotions, and provides a foundation for building relationships with it, one can even get attached to it.
Can wearing a logo and other house codes be viewed as vain? Gianni Versace loved to provoke and when other brands succumbed to minimalism, he stayed true to himself and his own aesthetic. He designed his logo ironically by including the head of the mythological Medusa, who was supposed to warn against fatal attraction and vanity. In one interview Donatella Versace recalls how she asked her brother about this choice, and how he answered that “those who fall in love with the Medusa have no way back”. The collections of the Italian fashion house are indeed not easy to miss – they stand out with a combination of excellent tailoring and an abundance of colours and patterns.
They are undoubtedly made for people who are very confident, like to stand out and don’t trouble what other people think. Baroque prints have been present in Versace’s collections since the 1992 spring/summer show and enable the brand to combine tradition with modernity to this day. The brand has been faithful to its signature motifs for decades, reinterpreting them through the prism of current trends and gaining many loyal clients in return. At the same time, it still finds a way to reach younger generations, and attracts renowned artists and celebrities from around the world.
exclusive or inclusive?
It’s impossible to discuss the logo without mentioning the name that has changed the history of American fashion (and not only that). Dapper Dan was born in Harlem – a neighbourhood of New York full of contrasts and inhabited in large part by Afro-Americans. In 1982, inspired by his own travels, Dapper Dan decided to use his cleverness and tailoring skills to create a store open around the clock that offered custom fashion described by the designer as an “Africanization of the premium European brand”. He turned products with monograms known to fashion fans into unique designs beloved by Black artists, in particular by rising stars of hip-hop. As time went on, he began to recreate the iconic fashion house logo patterns by himself, which caused him legal problems and forced him to close his business in 1992. The somewhat forgotten “bootlegging” designer made headlines once again when during the Gucci Cruise 2018 show one of the models wore a jacket that looked almost exactly like the one Dapper Dan designed for Diane Dixon in the late ‘80s. This obvious inspiration stirred uproar on the Internet, which resulted in a collaboration capsule collection, and thus the exaggerated designs appeared on the Met Gala red carpet. That wasn’t the first time Gucci showed that despite more than 100 years of its tradition, the brand moves with the times and is able to not treat its own house codes too seriously.
In 2016 the brand partnered with an artist that used its iconic monogram in his art. Known as GucciGhost, he first cut out the famous G in a sheet while creating a Halloween costume, which made him popular on Instagram. He used to say that he will use the logo until the Italian fashion house sues him or hires him – and he got what he wanted. The collaboration included viral bags that had the word REAL “spray-painted” above the Gucci logo. Today, no one is surprised by reinterpretations of the world’s top brand logos recreated by street artists or even referencing… cartoon characters.