In a post-“Who are you wearing?” world, fans don’t rely on E! red carpet interviews to learn which designer dresses their favorite celebrity. Tagging the label on Instagram does the job just as quickly, no cable subscription necessary. And increasingly, one doesn’t have to wonder who made Celine Dion’s belt or Kristin Stewart’s jumpsuit—the logo will scream it out to you.
Like neon, jorts, and mom jeans, logomania has revived itself from the ‘80s, leaving no echelon of fashion unturned. You can see it on influencers posing for photos in $15 Champion T-shirts, or Priyanka Chopra attending Paris Fashion Week repping Dior a delicate “CD” belt.
“The written word is one of the most valuable commodities in fashion at the moment,” Vogue’s Brooke Bobb wrote last year, citing the barrage of text storming down runways. Take, for instance: Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, who gleefully stamps the design house’s name and interlocking double “G” logo over everything from $1400 sweatshirts to $590 pool slides.
Or, the ever-popular Louis Vuitton printed bag, a truly non-partisan piece toted by everyone from Karlie Kloss to Ann Coulter. And even in the wake of a massive PR crisis for Dolce & Gabbana, who in 2018 released a racist ad that led to global protests of its products, a stylist for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia still put Kris Jenner in massive “DG” sunglasses for its upcoming July issue.
“Logomania became popular again because what’s old is, at some point, always new again,” Elle Style Director Nikki Ogunnaike wrote The Daily Beast in an email. “Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s have a soft spot in their hearts for the trend they loved as a kid, and are wearing it again as adults.”
Or, designers who loved the trend as young adults are returning to it as they hit midlife. As Ogunnaike put it, “Dapper Dan, the New York designer, essentially started logomania in the ‘80s.” Thirty years later, he's back for seconds.
Based out of Harlem, Dapper Dan’s initial boutique boasted a client list of hip-hop’s finest, like Salt-n-Pepa, Public Enemy, and Eric B & Rakim. His designs utilized logos from brands like Gucci, Vuitton, and Fendi—the last of which sued for infringement in 1992.
In a somewhat delicious irony, Gucci’s Michele was accused of cultural appropriation two years ago, after recreating a mink bomber that Dapper Dan first made in 1989 for Olympic runner Diane Dixon. (Dapper Dan and Gucci began a partnership in the wake of the snafu.)
“Logomania is probably my biggest achievement in terms of fashion,” Dapper Dan told The New York Times earlier this week. “I’m the father of logomania. I like the way that sounds!”
Tracee Ellis Ross, Ashley Graham, and Salma Hayek have all worn Dapper Dan’s Gucci collaborations. As Ogunnaike noted, custom Dapper Dan tracksuits will play a role in Queen and Slim, a Lena Waithe film out this Thanksgiving.
Memories of the ‘90s may drive some of logomania’s renewed clout, but it’s not entirely owned by millennials. “Look no further than the Instagram Brat Pack: the likes of Hailey Baldwin, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid are all PYTs (Pretty Young Things) with plenty of money to drop and young stylists who are plugged into the trend,” Ogunnaike wrote.
Julia Gall, the accessories director for Marie Claire, told The Daily Beast that Rihanna also offers a masterclass in how to nail it. “Like everything else she does, [Rihanna] is a complete master of logo-mania restraint,” Gall wrote. “Her take is never too over-the-top, but just enough flash to let everyone know that she’s the boss.”
But Rihanna’s own luxury clothing line, Fenty, is conspicuously free of labels. Her designs come unadorned, though the brand itself boasts an intricate, almost Grecian logo that spells out its name in a structural cursive.
Fendi, well-known for its “double F” logo, recently re-released a line of baguette bags carrying the carved buckle. “This version was handwritten by Karl Lagerfeld and is nicknamed ‘Karligraphy,’” Gall noted, name-dropping the late, former Fendi creative director.
Sarah Unger, SVP of Cultural Insights for Civic Entertainment Group, noted that logos lost a bit of cachet after the 2008 recession. “We have to credit streetwear with bringing it back,” Unger said. “Supreme and Palace made wearing logos cool again, but their logos are more about being in the know, representing access and insider knowledge, versus a gaudy symbol of wealth.” (Maybe a bit of a money flex, too—these are $350 track pants we’re talking about, after all.)
“Unsurprisingly, I think the people we see leaning most into this trend are influencers or those who want to be sponsored,” Unger added. “You have people rocking logos as a mark of, ‘I’ve made it.’”
Of course, the real mark of one-percenter elitism is buying a plain black dress worth thousands of dollars and not caring who knows where it was made. (See: just about every simplified, $3000 outfit Meghan Markle puts on.)
“When you look at people who really have money, who’ve really made it, who aren’t hawking themselves on social media, you see in their looks an expression of freedom from the info-loaded, attention-starved society we live in,” Unger put it.
The initial phase of cookie-cutter, straight-edge logos like Izod’s crest or Lacoste’s crocodile, which won fame in the preppy ‘80s, gave way to a new, democratized adaptation. “Logos have become part of a creative expression,” Unger explained. “They’re given to us by the people who make them, but now they’re ours to use.”
But use wisely. Last weekend, Miley Cyrus wore a hodgepodge of jewelry to her Glastonbury set, including a fist-size Chanel chain, Dior necklace, and Gucci belt. She paired the manic styling with leather pants and a white crop top. Stare at the picture, and you can imagine a lifetime Hermès shopper hissing, “New money” under her breath.
Plebes who want to suit up in logos, take note: “I think anyone can totally rock a logo with confidence, but I vote monogram in small doses,” Gall, the Marie Claire editor, said. “I would advise against ever mixing two different designer logos in one look; it’s textbook ‘fashion victim.’”