Branding Matters

What does it take to make a strong brand? Apparently not the same as it did five years ago. Georgia Watkins analyses the shift in branding strategies and the rise and fall of the logo.

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picture of food arranged to look like the chanel, louis vuitton, fendi and gucci logos
Fashion logos make a statement in any form. Source: Foodiggity.com

From the Balenciaga-stamped sneaker to the svelte, cinched waist of the Dior dress, the boundaries of branding in fashion extend far beyond a graphic logo printed onto a T-shirt. Brandingmag offers one definition of branding: a name, symbol or design implemented by the label to communicate its personality to the client. Branding evidently has value in the fashion industry: a simple black loafer, for instance, is completely transformed from a prêt-à-porter shoe into a head-turning piece of high fashion when the Chanel logo dangles from its buckle.

Branding acts as a mark of authenticity, reliability and consistency for the client, and therefore the brand itself cannot operate without it. Some fashion houses take inspiration from other brands and even totally different industries for their appeal – in 2014, Moschino’s Jeremy Scott took the golden McDonald’s arches and the brilliant, recognisable red and yellow colour combination to create a collection of alluring prêt-à-porter pieces.

However, how does quality in branding differ? Are there some types of branding that are superior to others? In an era where the branding kings Jack Wills and Abercrombie have been overthrown by labels such as iets frans…, Reebok and Fila, students no longer need to rely on a two-dimensional logo across the chest to express their tastes. The shortcoming of Jack Wills and Abercrombie is that their products rely entirely on this aspect; the sole buoyancy of their very rudimentarily-designed pieces is their name.

Jack Wills set up its own downfall by proclaiming itself as an outfitter for university students. Here in Oxford, its brand is almost entirely superseded by stash (Oxford-branded clothes for students which can represent college, sport, or society). Nowadays, the student fashion world is becoming more dynamic. Trends are not centred so much anymore around a logo, but a style. Instead of skinny-jeans and Hollister tees, the silhouettes of clothing are changing to follow trend, demonstrated by the luxurious flare trousers that scream Topshop in a glance. The growing spectrum of trousers (culottes, wide-leg, mom jeans and so on) in particular has been a sign of the progression of trends from logo-driven to style-oriented. The clout of Reebok and Fila is demonstrated on the street by the wearable appeal of their sporty-yet-fashionable look: the main styling pieces are fleeces and sweatshirts that are designed to be staples rather than cheaper, fad-driven pieces.

Despite the fall of logo branding, if you’re going to put a logo anywhere in your outfit, I’d argue that shoes are a must. Even haute couture (see Chanel S/S14) can work with a classic, comfy pair of trainers. There is no one rule to follow when it comes to branding. What recent times has shown us, however, is the triumph of quality craftsmanship and design over the letters of a logo. The ability to turn a brand’s garments into wardrobe staples – here to stay, and not the product of ephemeral trends – is branding at its most effective.

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