Fashion, Licentiate Columns, Subculture

Licentiate Column 10/10/13:Big Bad Branding

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Kids love the darndest things. They love selfies, they love Molly and they love Alexander Wang. I’m far too much of a snob (or too terrified of criticism) to post selfies and I don’t know who or what Molly is but I’m sure one of my friends will tell me eventually (I hear that Miley Cyrus loves dancing with her).

Alexander Wang, though. That’s a different proposition altogether.

Alexander Wang is by far the coolest designer out there – and by ‘cool’ I mean ‘very, very popular’. His clothes are easy to wear and for the most part, easy to produce. He has invented or popularised several major trends, is in his second season as designer for legendary fashion house Balenciaga and is a major contributor to the global takeover of the ‘leggings as trousers’ look. From this we can at least glean that while Alexander Wang is incredibly talented, productive and well able to tap into the zeitgeist, he is not Fashion Infallible.

Alexander Wang’s most recent collection for his eponymous label was roundly hailed as a tour de force – yet again. The clothes fit his usual remit; slouchy sportswear with unexpected details in tones of black, white and grey. The most striking of his pieces was a white sweatshirt bearing the Parental Advisory logo. It was an interesting addition. Now that CDs have disappeared, surely the Parental Advisory logo should have disappeared too?

Without delving too deeply into the possibilities, the Parental Advisory logo worn on a woman’s chest is at best, a heavy-handed nod to truly awful, cliched logo t-shirts and 90’s ladette-style coy double entendres. At worst, it’s the micro-trend that’s going to annoy the bejaysus out of people like me – that is, people who are very easily annoyed – for at least four months.

This collection was presented about three weeks ago. Already, I have spotted three or four lost-looking waifs bearing the Advisory logo on their very PG selves.
There’s no way that I could possibly guarantee this, but I absolutely, 100% guarantee that at least fifty such designer copycat sweatshop sweatshirts are winging their way from China to Cork at this very second. It’s cool, it’s fresh, it’s young. It’s whatever word of the moment that you want it to be.

However, one has to examine the mechanisms of a youth culture where a twenty-six year old (that me then) can remember the trend quite vividly the first time around. Does anyone else remember Limp Bizkit and balding frontman Fred Durst’s predilection for red baseball caps and t-shirt bearing a very familiar logo? Nu-metal was the subculture that spawned the trends of today.

As a fashion statement, nu-metal clothing needs to be popped on a compost heap and literally recycled, not shorn of a few details and repackaged as a brand new trend. Youth culture (and come to think of it, Alexander Wang’s designs) tend to look forward, not back. Hindsight is 20/20 – and logos are embarrassing on par to leggings worn as trousers.

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2 thoughts on “Licentiate Column 10/10/13:Big Bad Branding

  1. I bought one of those ‘Parental Advisory..’ tops a few weeks ago. In Penneys. On sale. *hangs head in shame* In my defence I didn’t realise it was trending/on the catwalk and I…wear it with a pencil…skirt?! For contrast, see?! No? ok… ;D

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