How Luxury Fashion Was Reduced to Logomania
As a graphic designer and consultant I like this shift. As a manager, this makes my job easier. As a student of fashion — it’s lazy and without conviction. The following article delves deeper.
By Eugene Rabkin in Style
In a 2017 interview with 032c, Highsnobiety founder David Fischer said, “I was meeting with a luxury brand recently, and they were talking about not being exclusive anymore—about being inclusive. And I thought that was pretty interesting, because I know they wouldn’t have said that a year ago.”
Fischer is entirely correct in his observation that luxury and exclusivity are, by and large, no longer synonymous. Today, goods from luxury houses are ubiquitous. On a recent visit with my daughter to American Eagle, I observed the store’s clientele. One girl had on plastic pool slides by Gucci, another had a thin Gucci buckle belt, and another had a small YSL bag. Needless to say, I recognized those items not by their recognizable designs, but by their prominent logos. The rest of these teens’ outfits didn’t particularly scream “luxury” or “designer,” but those small statement pieces telegraphed to the world that they knew what was up. The logo did all of the talking.
The omnipresence of so-called “luxury fashion” isn’t a new story, but this time it’s got a distinctly 2019 flavor. In the ’80s, luxury brands engaged in rampant licensing. The theory was that if you licensed your name to a different company, creating a different product category, you would be sitting pretty collecting royalties without having to manage the complexities of the manufacturing and distribution processes. That’s how you ended up with Givenchy and Pierre Cardin button-up shirts at T.J. Maxx. This worked for a while — until it didn’t. All of a sudden brand dilution (and the loss of the wealthy clientele) was on every luxury house’s mind. The licensing was reigned in.