Typography is an all-time classic fashion trend. This is why.
Designer and brand logos burst on the scene in the 80’s and one could argue begun the era of “inexpensive” high fashion. Wearing your DKNY t-shirt with a larger than life logo across the chest, you felt proud you could afford the luxury. Not only did you have the sense of belonging in a group with a higher state of fashion consciousness, but you also declared loyalty to the brand and what it stood for. This was the case for the blooming fashionista but also pretty much any genre of fashion culture at the time; the brand you chose to wear helped you define – in some way or another- your lifestyle. Using, the particularly favoured, Helvetica and Futura font variations, high fashion designers and brands stumbled on a way to make clear visual statements and a multitude of walking, talking, breathing adverts.
However, as the trend fizzled out any association with fashion typography was a major “faux pas”. Rendered as tacky, excessive and kitsch, bold designer logos were forced off clothes and onto slightly more subtle means of branding. Of course, there were still the obvious exceptions of designers, such as Moschino or Katharine Hamnett, that continued to splash theirs with a humoristic approach, but for the most part logos were neatly tucked away in bag linings and discrete clasps. Circa SS 2013 and the designer logo begun to make a distinctive comeback. Even though its importance never really exited our consumer driven consciousness, something had changed significantly. Irony and humor was added to the equation.
Using, the particularly favoured, Helvetica and Futura font variations, high fashion designers and brands stumbled on a way to make clear visual statements.
It would be impossible not to notice on all social media and blogs, selfies of various people wearing Brian Lichtenberg’s “Homies” t-shirts bearing the Hermes logo with a twist. Little did Dr.Rudolf Wolf - the creator of the Memphis typeface used for Hermes- know that his work would be part of a revolution in the way we perceive designer logos today. Lichtenberg’s collection, also featuring the likes of “Feline” and “Da Kute Face”, playing on the Celine and The North Face logos, advocated our Warholian attitude on their importance. Conflicts of Interest, another brand spinning designer logos into puns, swapping Balenciaga for “Ballinciaga” or Balmain for “Brawlmain”, created a visual interpretation of designer logos with an ironic make over; referencing on the counterfeit market, consumerism and branding itself, COI chose to distance these logos from their high fashion French salons and place them on the streets with the rest of us. And it doesn’t stop there; Heron Preston made a play with non-fashion related logos like Nascar, Google and Home Depot. Mixing and matching, flipping them upside down and sideways to create a mélange of corporate identity typeface on a long sleeve T.
The fashion designer’s logo still represents the importance of the brand, but taken out of context and deconstructed, becomes a strong validation of our current consumer power.
On the other hand Opening Ceremony, a dynamic high fashion and design based concept store, collaborated with fashion houses such as DKNY to revive their logo. Whether repetitive in an almost continuous graphic pattern, or bold and ballsy, the likes of Alexander Wang, Missoni and Kenzo, amongst others, have been campaigning theirs on the runways for SS 2014. Designers have become once more assertive when it comes to their logos and they are not afraid to show it. It could be the case that there has been enough time to distance ourselves from the 80’s, and the guilt associated with our indulgence of brands. It could be also said that the fashion designer’s logo still represents the importance of the brand, but taken out of context and deconstructed, becomes the perfect combination of a nostalgic memory from our teens and a strong validation of our current consumer power. Whether it’s the former or the latter, for this season and to be brutally honest with you for any season, just pick the typeface of your style.
Will do. Now let’s go for a walk.
By Nadia Papanikolaou
Nadia is the Head of Visual Merchandising at Beyond Retro and a freelance commercial photographer.
She works and lives in London.