In fashion, a logo can be the difference between a $90 pair of heels and a $900 pair of heels. That’s the power of an iconic, instantly recognizable visual brand identity. And the best fashion logos have some interesting origin stories, from the aristocratic roots of the Chanel Cs to the iconic Nike Swoosh logo that cost the brand a mere $35.
Sure, you know the Gucci logo from the Louis Vuitton logo from the Yves Saint Laurent logo. But you probably don’t know how these popular fashion logos became irrevocably iconic. For that, check out the origin stories behind some of the most recognizable fashion logos from designer labels and other brands.
1. Chanel’s Interlocking C Logo
The Chanel double-C logo is perhaps one of the most recognized fashion logos in the world. Though the duo of letters obviously stands for founder Coco Chanel’s name, not much else is known about the origins of the sleek logo. Fashion historians, however, theorize that the logo spurred from Chanel’s interest in “aristocratic and royal codes.” It’s also worth noting that Chanel was reportedly fascinated by Catherine de’ Medici, the queen of France from 1519 to 1589. The queen had a similar monogram to the Chanel logo, featuring interlocking Cs.
2. Gucci’s Double-G Logo
You may know the Gucci logo from the sought-after Gucci belt or famed Gucci loafers. The double-G monogram comes from founder Guccio Gucci’s first and last name, much like the Chanel logo. The earliest Gucci logo debuted in 1921, simply featuring “Gucci” in a stylized type. Then came a version with “G” in front of the existing logo in 1929. But the famous interlocking double-G logo came in 1933, made to resemble the links of a bracelet, invoking luxury and status. Some fashion historians also believe the logo was meant to call on the infinity symbol or an otherwise sense of grandeur.
3. Louis Vuitton’s LV Logo
Though Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, the LV logo you associate with the brand wasn’t introduced until 1896, some four years after the real Louis Vuitton died. His son Georges created to logo to pay tribute to his father. At the same time, Georges created the floral symbols that often accompany the LV monogram. According to Editorialist, “The first is a four-point star, which symbolizes fortune; the next, a four-petal flower, symbolizing joy. The last: a four-point star inside a diamond, which signifies passion.”
4. Nike’s “Swoosh”
A departure from the monograms of luxury brands, the Nike “Swoosh” logo is undoubtedly iconic in the fashion world—and it has some deeply interesting history to go along with its famed status. The Nike Swoosh was first introduced in 1971, some 50 years ago. In that year, Blue Ribbon Sports officially changed its name to Nike and needed a new logo to mark the occasion. Nike co-founder Phil Knight was teaching at Portland State University at the time and approached graphic design student Carolyn Davidson to create a logo for the brand, hearing she needed money to pay for another course. Davidson created a checkmark logo reminiscent of a wing. She was paid $35 for the logo, which would become iconic for its timeless simplicity. Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first full-time employee, came up with the word Nike, which could have been how the brand selected its name. Nike is also the name of the winged goddess of victory, who was known for flight in Greek Mythology.
5. Versace’s Medusa Logo
Versace, Versace, Versace. Forget monograms or simple designs. Versace’s opulent logo is busy, bold and legendary. The Versace logo, first introduced in 1993, features the head of Medusa and was designed by Gianni Versace himself. The logo calls upon Gianni’s upbringing in Rome, where Greek artwork is abundant. In fact, Gianni Versace reportedly said the inspiration for the logo came from artwork carved on the floor of the ruins he and his siblings used to play on. Gianni said he chose to depict Medusa because of her power to make people fall in love with her, hoping Versace would have the same impact on consumers.
6. Yves Saint Laurent’s YSL Logo
The chic Yves Saint Laurent logo is a simple monogram featuring slanted letters interlocking in a vertical stack meant to represent the initials of the fashion house’s founder. First designed in 1961 by famed graphic designer Cassandre, the logo was designed to be elegant, modern, and timeless. Interestingly, the “Y” and “L” in the design are in serif font while the “S” is in sans serif font, a design move pros describe as breaking the conventions of design. Yet, the famed logo does so with sophisticated and refined grace.
7. Ralph Lauren’s Polo Pony
Dubbed the Polo Pony, the instantly-recognizable Ralph Lauren logo is equal parts preppy prestige and country club-chic. Founder Ralph Lauren chose the logo in 1971—just three years after starting his namesake brand—while looking at patterns for neckties. One particular tie pattern featuring a polo player on horseback immediately caught Lauren’s eye. The logo then made its first appearance later that year embroidered on the cuff of a women’s shirt. From there, it appeared on almost every single piece of the brand’s apparel. On his website, Lauren is quoted as saying, “To me, the polo player has elegance and imagination. It embodies sophisticated luxury and a timeless style.”
8. Hermes’ Horse and Carriage Logo
One of the most intricate luxury fashion logos undoubtedly belongs to Hermes. The high-end brand’s logo, which was introduced in 1950, features the silhouette of a horse and carriage accompanied by a man in a top hat. The logo calls upon Hermes’ founding as a carriage accessories manufacturer for the elite in the mid-1800s. While the logo was introduced long after horses and carriages roamed city streets, the logo still invoked a sense of luxury along with paying homage to the brand’s roots. The iconic Hermes logo is almost always accompanied by an equally-famed typeface, which is Memphis Bold by Rudolf Wolf. While “Hermes” appears in this typeface, it often is accompanied by a city of origin underneath in sans serif font.
9. Supreme’s Red-and-White Text Logo
Though Supreme was only established in 1994, its bold red-and-white logo is already iconic in its own right. Slap the Supreme logo on anything, and you have surefire sales. Even Metrocards featuring the logo went like hotcakes in 2017. But its genesis isn’t without controversy. When Supreme was brainstorming logos in its early days, the founder wanted to punch up the text-heavy concept. That’s when his friend reportedly lent him a book by artist Barbara Kruger, who is known for work featuring black and white images overlayed with white text in red text bars. Riffing off the idea, Supreme got its logo—but not without Kruger taking note. The artist didn’t own copyrights to the text style associated with her art, so she couldn’t sue the brand. But Kruger reportedly wasn’t happy with the “tribute,” especially since much of her work addresses consumerism.