big branding is back with a bang

From Calvin Klein x MyTheresa and DKNY going back to basics to a whole new wave of design talent making their names their business, bold 90s branding has come full circle and is influencing a whole new generation of consumers.

by Lynette Nylander
07 August 2014, 9:40pm

Mitchell Sams.

Growing up, some of my earliest and fondest memories were of the fashion ad's and music videos of the early 90s, more specifically, the bold colours and even bolder brand names that encased the Aaliyah's, Kate's and Cindy's of the day. Despite it being a clear sign of conspicuous consumption, for me, there was something attainable about it all, like if I could just get my mum down to Selfridges to get me one of those Tommy Hilfiger logo tee's I could somehow be a part of it all. Fifteen years later, that tee long donated to my local Barnados, logo-laden clothing is seemingly everywhere with blue-chip brands and street-wear labels alike getting in on the act.

Pioneered by the 90s kings of casual cool at the time, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, the trio branded their names and created logos that could be used across clothing, homeware and fragrance in a stroke of genius and sparked a sensation that crossed subcultures. Models for their ad campaigns were as diverse as Kate Hudson to Kate Moss, Ivanka Trump to Tyson Beckford, showing no-one was excluded from this new way of dressing and as a result less formidable brands tried to jump in and grab some of the action.

Moschino's revival can be held accountable not only to its genius creative directorship appointment of Jeremy Scott but the return of its infamous logo (and the adoption of the golden arches of McDonalds, another one of the world's most recognised logos). Jeremy's approach was no holds barred as he slapped the Moschino logo across tees, belts, bags (heck, even ballgowns!) and to good effect, sales for the brand have soared as people clamoured for a piece of the collection, even the french fry shaped phone case has spawned knock-offs at the wrong end of Tottenham Court Road. DKNY, long the some-what sleepy sister of the main line Donna Karan has returned back to its popular branding of the early 90s. The brand's reinvigoration started with a clever collaboration with Opening Ceremony, a retailer that long understood the need to brand oneself early on. The collection resulted in re-issued pieces from 91-98 with the Donna Karan New York logo strewn across skintight onesies and oversized tank tops; a successful fusion of old and new. Calvin Klein took the re-issue of their 90s classics one step further by using Lottie Moss, younger sister of Kate, to reinforce the idea of throwback branding for a new generation.

Heavily branded clothing can be seen as a subconscious reaction to society. Right now, we are at the tail-end of a gruelling recession where money was scarce, if available at all. Much like the early 90s, we've got a little more cash to splash and people want to wear their money right where they can see it, on their chest, and there is no shortage of design taking the ethos of 90s branding and repackaging it for 2014.

Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley's expert first outing for the new Marc by Marc Jacobs including a new MBMJ logo that not only looked the part but acted as a perfect marketing tool with MBMJ scarves being distributed to fashion's elite mere days after the show. Elsewhere, in a bold move, Alexander Wang laser cut his moniker into leather for his spring/summer 14 show at NYFW. His reason as told to's Nicole Phelps? He wanted to take fashion back to when it "was really fun, when there was wit and humor, and it wasn't so serious." And that is the appeal of the logo, in a world where fashion can take itself too seriously, a logo subliminally says, "I know what I like and I am not too stuffy to say so". This willingness to have fun with fashion has been embraced in recent years and is the key to the recent logo revival as young designers who are inspired by fashion and club culture such as Virgil Abloh's OFF-WHITE, Nasir Mazhar and Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air have made their names their currency, birth given or otherwise, by creating a striking logo, and taking it one step further by creating a brand world and getting others to be a part of the movement and adorn their chest, butts and heads with their tribes label of choice.

It's a smart move by those who know that though money talks, it talks even louder when you sink a load of it into your latest designer logo-laden duds. Now about getting that Hilfiger tee back….


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Mitchell Sams

Alexander Wang
Opening Ceremony
tommy hilfiger
Jeremy Scott
Think Pieces
Hood By Air
Nasir Mazhar
Calvin Klein
Ralph Lauren
Shayne Oliver
calvin klein x mytheresa
donna karan
mitchell sams
lynette nylander