Logos Are Back

Leandra Medine | August 10, 2015

The swoosh has once again been replaced by brand initials

Alessandro Michele is in at Gucci and bringing that horsebit detail back to life. Nicolas Ghesquière has managed to make discernible L’s and costly V’s feel cool again, and Chanel, for better or for worse, has never really attempted to abandon its interlocking C’s to appease the popular opinion. This opinion, of course, has been following a model that extols inconspicuous luxury.

It celebrates innocuous but extravagantly luxurious leather accessories like those from The Row, applauds the discreetly pointed toe at the front of a Manolo Blahnik heel and has heretofore successfully built the kind of brands that have been able subsist on a vision that pegs you an insider by reason of your knowing a Céline blouse is Céline because of the way it is made, not because it shouts its name at you. This has left room to fine-tune what it means to “fake it ’til you make it.” Without anyone ever really knowing what you’re wearing, you decide not just who, but what you are in the clothes. In 2015, Dior’s dame on a Zara budget is still Dior’s dame; the fast-fashion power house makes sure of it.

But we’re back at an interesting intersection where what we’ve spent the greater half of the 2010’s calling tacky — putting your style where your wallet is — is slowly beginning to feel tasteful again. And if 2013 saw the rise of an era defined by a new form of discernible label — the Nike swoosh, the Adidas triangle, Calvin Klein’s stamped initials on a white underwear band — 2015 is on track to take back ostentatious branding coupled with the expensive labels that command it and exit right next to a pair of Roberto Cavalli sunglasses. Sold out.

It seems kind of problematic, right? Because here we’ve convinced ourselves, through the fell acknowledgement and subsequent wearing of unobtrusive labels, that we’re above articulating our personal style using the contents of our wallets as a metric to define it. But with logos once again pervading our bag(uette)s comes the recognition and with that recognition comes price tags being broadcasted for all. And the thing about wearing that price tag is that while Zara can trick you into thinking you’re wearing x, it will never trick you into spending y.

So what happens? Are we back at a grisly inflection point that honors those who have it and polarizes those who can’t? Or do the recent nods to blatant branding further substantiate a case for slow fashion — quieting down the necessity we’ve cultivated to buy, buy, buy, cheap, cheap, cheap in order think more thoughtfully about what we want to say when we set out to script our sartorial screenplays?


Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; styled by Ella Viscardi


  • soniadelvalle

    Nope, still tacky and snobby.

  • I’m definitely still not a fan. And according to French style principles, it is not very chic (or cool). Subtlety is so much more elegant than being a walking billboard.

    • Totally agree with you. French girls would never wear that!

  • Alex

    It’s still pretty tacky to me.

    “…in order think more thoughtfully about what we want to say when we set out to script our sartorial screenplays?” doesn’t really hold any ground either, when what you’re “saying” with a logo is “look at this logo” rather than “look at my unique sartorial voice.” To me, it’s almost the same as fast fashion, because you are buying it with less thought. (Buying because it’s cheap/buying because it has a name.) And even if your thought process didn’t work that way, I believe that’s what it looks like from the outside. While I don’t doubt the value of buying quality over “cheap cheap cheap,” I don’t think you should feel like you have to declare the value of your purchases to the world. That definitely starts to spill into narcicissm, not just a statement about slow fashion. THAT cause can be helped by supporting slow fashion brands and spreading the word about it to others (like on MR). But think: When seeing a logo-clad bag, does Jane Doe say, “wow I really should stop buying F21 and support slow fashion,” or does she say “wow that’s an expensive bag you’ve got there, no way I can afford that, but I should go buy a knock-off at F21.”

    But maybe I’m biased, growing up in a junior high world (tail end of the logo-crazed 2000s) where it seemed like everyone but a few wore Abercrombie-emblazoned tees, and I fought with my life to avoid it. The whole thing just reminds me of my adolescence, which I thought I finally escaped, and certainly don’t think we should revisit.

    • Leandra Medine

      Totally with you Alex — fighting through the same debacle re: logos and style but 1: the thing about style is that it is supposed to be a visible reflection of the self, right? So if sharing your price tag is your prerogative, that’s a statement on your style– and then 2: for those with different goals but who are similarly interesting in wearing logos (if they’re “back” they’re being packaged to feel “cool” and that’s an energy that’s hard to buy, so when it is commoditized, people kind of jump), there is something to be said about the layer of irony that’s grown over us and therefore the question of whether the statement is actually look at me so much as it is look at how irreverent I’m being comes up. It’s an expensive joke, no doubt, but one that contributes to personal style

      • soniadelvalle

        That’s a lot of money to spend ironically, lol.

  • Eva Skewes

    Linking the return of branding with slow fashion only makes sense to me if a brand is synonymous with quality above everything else. While I would hope such expensive and boldly branded items would last a lifetime or two or three, I’m pretty sure everyone buying them is doing it to show that they can drop that kind of money.

  • This bag is currently Everywhere ! Your blog, other blogs, Instagram.. Not very subtle advertising here.
    Gucci is making huge effort to increase sales but with such design – not even Man Repelling, but also Woman-Repelling it will never work, sorry..!

  • Andie Kinzler

    It’s like walking around with a Hollister shirt that only says Hollister. Middle school fashion

    • BK

      hear hear

  • I don’t necessarily know if I agree that logos are “back”, at least not to the exent they were in the late 90s early noughties. Perhaps in certain areas of the world (here in the Middle East it never actually left), but I still get the distinct impression that most people are still trying to steer clear from advertising what they’re wearing. I personally find it uber tacky – though whether someone decides to flaunt their “price tag” is completely their prerogative.

    If, however, the interest of logos is once again on the rise, that’s a sign that things, economically speaking, are starting to pick up once again (hurray!). The reason logos took a nosedive in popularity was, in part, a result of the recession. Those who could still afford these labels didn’t want to broadcast that fact to the rest who could not. Americans, whether intentional or not, adopted that European subtlety, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So if people aren’t feeling as self-conscious about flaunting their cash, perhaps that’s a sign of the times to come…

  • Stella C

    really nice bags with logos

  • susieq

    I really enjoyed how this article wrapped up by questioning the rationality behind the very American mantra, ‘buy, buy, buy, cheap, cheap, cheap,’ but that’s hardly an argument for sporting ostentatious logos. If one were truly attempting to adopt less materialistic, more minimalistic habits wouldn’t she want to avoid obvious branding bc it’s, as the title of this post suggests, trendy? As all of Scandinavia has taught us, one can be both a minimalist and stylish.

    The pro-logo argument I full heartedly support though is when one owns up to her flashy taste and says, “Yeah, I dig fashion. I like cool branding. And I’m not afraid to show where I invest my money. I’m not better or worse than you, but my bags are my jam.”

    The danger lies when people, especially young girls, coorellate their self-worth and confidence to the brands (or lack there of) they own. Remember little repellers! Fashion doesn’t have to be serious, or expensive, or flashy, or understated to be good. It’s all gravy, babies!

    • doublecurl

      I have to disagree with that being a purely American mantra. Having lived in America and abroad we do NOT have a monopoly on fast fashion. I found it shocking how disposable clothes were in many places abroad compared to America.

  • Could it be as simple as a nod to the 90s? We’ve brought back so many other trends from that era, we may as well let logos back in the game.