Logo-mania has taken over the fashion industry again, making a big return since its last major cycle in the ’90s. During that era, being plastered in logos was beyond hot… until it wasn’t. Just as strong as the fad’s infiltration into the scene was its dissipation; what once was a mark of cool faded into a land of taboo trends. But with celebrities like Rihanna already stamping the look and high-fashion brands like Gucci and Fendi reclaiming their place in the mix, the logo craze just may have longevity well into the future.
“The Gel-lyte 180 — that shoe came out two years ago, so you can essentially say we were first on the trend,” said Colin Brickley, senior director of lifestyle marketing for Asics. He’s referring to one of the brand’s more recent sneakers which boasts a large Asics logo on the shoe’s upper, an atypical design for the athletic retailer.
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“I honestly think we were ahead of our time, and the market had gone super minimal with minimal branding to what’s trending now is crazy built-up underlays and overlays,” he said.
Given the shoe’s initial release in 2016, Brickley may have a solid point about Asics’ early arrival to the trend. Seasons later, as other brands are just re-entering the conversation, Asics has taken its branded shoe one step further by collaborating with Foot Locker and Pensole on an exclusive Gel-180 “Fresh Up” design.
“We’re very proud of our logo and our badging so we wanted to experiment with alternate ways to brand our footwear and apparel. Our Asics Tiger logo is a retro logo that works really well on apparel and with taping. There’s a nostalgia connected with [logos] as well and a lot of consumers are Asics loyalists who respond to it,” explained Brickley.
Fila is another prominent example of a heritage brand that has taken advantage of the surge in logo-wear. Its highly recognizable “F” graphic made for a seamless collaboration with Fendi this season at Milan Fashion Week. The dual branding was implemented across both apparel and accessories at the luxury label’s fall 2018 runway show last month.
“It actually sparked from a creative that was out there on the interwebs and it started a conversation between both brands. Karl Lagerfeld is the co-head designer and what we’ve been doing in the market — really staying true to what we are and talking to our customer directly — I think really was the spark that made this beautiful high-end brand like Fendi say lets do something with Fila,” said Louis Colon, Fila’s VP of Heritage.
He continued, “obviously, the logo and font is a part of our DNA and to see it spelled out in Fendi was a great unique street wear take on it.”
While the Fila x Fendi pieces will be available at only about a dozen Fendi retailers worldwide, the sportswear brand has plenty more logo product coming down the pipeline in response to the growing trend. Granted, there will be different variations based on how the company expects the trend to ebb and flow.
“We have a big heritage launch in April called the ‘Mind Blower.’ The logo on the midsole is a huge, oversized logo and goes back to this conversation. The good thing with the brand is we get to play with a mixed use of logos, placement, sizing, colors treatment…whether it’s all-over or tonal all-over or an orange sleeve hit or different applications from woven patches to direct embroideries to gold foil and treatments. Our logo is who we are but we aren’t defined by one logo,” said Colon.
Some companies have even directly cited “logo” as a business growth strategy. In a second-quarter conference call with investors, Coach president and CEO Josh Schulman said that there was “a global movement in luxury brands toward a higher penetration of logo product.”
That leaves the question of just how long exactly do the industry pros see the trend continuing? According to Colon there’s at least two years worth of leg room.
“In the next 18 months it won’t be as hot, but I do not think it’s going away. It’s here to stay for at least another 24 months but it will be more balanced. It’s super skewed on large logos right now,” he said.
While Brickley didn’t pinpoint a time frame for the trend, he does contend that the more well-known brands will have the strongest foundation to run with it.
“The market moves so fast that it’s hard to crystal ball it but if you see the brands that are championing this message — Champion, Fendi and some of the brands with iconic logos and badging that they wanted to tout and celebrate — it’s only brands [like those] that have incredible equity that can really go with this,” said Brickley.
Colon adds, “there’s a different maturity for different retailers where some people will still be on oversized logos while others will just move the logos to other bodies, or colors, etc.”
“High fashion is looking at street fashion, while street fashion is doing the inverse. And it’s a really unique time in fashion,” he said.
So as to how long logos will still be cool? The answer seems to be to look to the streets.