Given the past few posts here that tangentially deal with the idea of logos and branding, perhaps it’s a decent time to open up the discussion a bit more on the topic.
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of having logos on my clothing or excessive branding. This, however, isn’t uniform throughout my clothing that I own. A few dress shirts have some discreet logos on the placket, but when tucked in it’s invisible.
Until my most recent pair of glasses, my old frames had a “D&G” branding on the sides. Other than the fact that they were three years old, this was another reason to replace them with something newer (and sans branding).
Still, when it comes to buying new products now (or perhaps considering used ones via thrifting or eBay), clearly visible branding and logos do play a major role in my decision to avoid a particular item. This leads to a good point though from elijahlain, who brought up this whole topic:
Can’t help but wonder if RL doesn’t actually lose money because of their obnoxious branding. We can’t be the only people who abstain from purchasing RL because of it. Anyway, thank you for the advice. Always appreciated.
For better or worse, I think the Polo logo does help Ralph Lauren sell its clothing. When you’re trying to massively expand your brand, then you must do several things. First, you have to find a way to distinguish yourself from others and developing your brand means being instantly identifiable in a sea of competition. An easy way to do that is to have a logo that’s unique — yet also encapsulates your image and ties well into your brand’s story and marketing efforts.
Sure, you can sell on other points, too — like the quality of your garments, the original style of them, their fit, etc. — but you still want something visual that ties the whole brand together. Logos tend to do that nicely and their repetition helps implant this into the consumer’s mind.
When your shirts are on a rack, the logo makes it easy to identify and if you have a good brand name, then it draws the eye and influences the customer’s decision over a shirt with a different logo (or no logo at all). Regardless of the outcome, you’ve differentiated yourself in a moment, and if you’re betting on your brand’s strength, this is a good thing.
Secondly, as your brand becomes popular, so does its mass market appeal for wearing it. Since I’d imagine a good percentage of people see owning certain items of clothing as a symbol of status and perhaps boastfulness at times, a logo is appealing.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that for many consumers the quality of the article of clothing is secondary to 1.) the price and 2.) the brand. If price is your guiding factor, then you’ll go wherever you’ll receive the most utility. However, if the brand is the preference, you’ll pay whatever price.
I suppose if you wanted to blame the overabundance of logos and brands names splattered across the chests of T-shirts, polos and (heaven help us) pants, then you can point your disapproval toward those who allow brand to solely dictate their purchasing decisions and want to show off their allegiance to that brand and its marketed “lifestyle”.
I’m going to be a bit derisive here, but I think this kind of thinking often shows poor taste. And I’ll go one step further and say that brands that cater to this kind of behavior are doing themselves a disservice to their brand for the sake of more money and mass appeal (like those Polo shirts above).
But in the end, it’s all about business and Polo has done great business by appealing to more people — the kind of people who could care less about Ralph Lauren’s “made in Italy” suiting options and more about having an embroidered logo on their left breast. Any money they’re losing from people who care about not having logos is surely made up several times over by those who would insist on buying a garment with one sewn in.
Can any branding be done nicely and not look obnoxious? I think so. My personal favorite branding example in clothing is Thom Browne. I like the way he manages to incorporate the red, white and blue stripe into his clothing, like in the cardigan below. Those stripes play well against his base of neutral tones and makes his clothing identifiable, yet, not tacky. (His fits, however, are another story.)
ADDING: Some other discussion:
I wrote about about logos a while back but the fact of the matter is most people buy PRL FOR the logo. It’s a shortcut for saying “I have money and taste”.
Agreed! And I think we both definitely agree that one cannot simply purchase taste — just as they cannot simply walk into Mordor.
I think that one of the best examples of effective branding is Levi’s’ back-pocket stitching. It doesn’t stand out with their name or illustrate any audacious logo, but it’s relevant to their brand, and it’s applicable to every one of their products.
Good point and I’d add their leather patch and red tag on the back also contribute to an overall look of the brand. Honestly, I think their jeans would look really odd without all of those things.
I've removed aftermarket monogram from the cuff of a shirt once, and it does leave a faint "ghost" of where it was. While it's not terribly noticeable on the cuff, I think it would be on the chest of a shirt. You have to also factor in the fact that the PRL logo is a big block of thread, while a monogram has a lot more "empty" space. I will also say that the process was a major pain in the ass to do and was very tedious. I don't think I'd ever do it again.
Also, I think that some patches, like the old Tommy Hilfiger crest logos, would be in the same boat about removal. The only thing I would feel confident in removing would be a tag, and then only if the stitching is visible. Other than that, you can either pass up the item or live with the branding.