Opinion: Mugging the streets, branding fashion

Blatant branding is a powerful statement of allegiance and irony, says Katherine Bernard

Fashion Incoming
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At the Opening Ceremony after-party, deep in the vast warehouse of Pier 57, everyone was so easy to read. DKNY, HBA, NIKE…almost every show goer had words on their shirt.

The designers pushing the word-resurgence are all helmed by men who grew up during the height of logomania

Graphic text and reworked logos are carrying the day, and not just in simple brand representation as per the nineties and early noughties. The new interpretations are far more complex than the literal luxury cues of then. The designers pushing the word-resurgence - Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air, Alexander Wang and cult tee shirt parody brands like Conflict of Interest and LPD New York Now – are all helmed by men who grew up during the height of logomania. Their logos are a reference to the street culture from that era; their execution completely new.

Take Hood By Air: Oliver started his label seven years ago, with now-infamous versions of the HBA tag on t-shirts. Fast-forward to now, his SS14 collection, and the HBA label is still there: upside-down on the back of jackets and in unexpected places like just below the knee.

Alexander Wang employed similar creative wit when working on the logo placement for his SS14 collection. Laser cut into gloves and leather shirts, and woven into the lace bodices of dresses, it wasn't the name itself that made the clothes luxe, but the materials themselves. It was also a statement about the power of the house of Wang, which still retains a clear identity and affinity with street culture even as Wang himself takes the reigns at the storied house of Balenciaga. His innovative wordplay elevates the Wang logo to symbolism, and speaks to his vision as an artist and, perhaps, cult leader.

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Illustration by Liana Sophia Ever

His innovative wordplay elevates the Wang logo to symbolism, and speaks to his vision as an artist and, perhaps, cult leader.

Conflict of Interest and LPD NY are parody brands that fuck with the luxury branding those designers’ too experienced as kids. To be self-aware of brand allegiance, and wink at the ways words can translate into power on clothing is a new level of awareness for street style. Conflict's clever reworking of brand names - Bottega Veneta as Bodega Vendetta, Balenciaga as Ballinciaga, Tom Ford as Tom Lord - forces us to question why we listen to designers, and what drives us to buy into (sometimes without affording to) their branding. LPD NY's designer jerseys (one even includes the name WANG on the back of the shirt) riff on the allegiance of fashion teams. That what you wear is as powerful an identity as where you are from.

It's clear that as an audience to fashion, we're self-aware and expect innovation in a way that wasn't true of the past. These are the thinking dresser's clothes. 

WANG 1 Lea
Alexander Wang SS14 Photography by Lea Colombo

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