Fashion trends are more like an evolutionary process. Over time, everything from hair all the way down to shoes is constantly changing; just as New York never sleeps, neither does fashion. With nostalgia for the fashion of the 1990s in full-swing, we felt it worthy to focus on a large part of that decade’s fashion identity many of us seem to have forgotten about. Of the many fashion honorees to remember of the 1990s, how could anyone forget the large and gaudy designer logos on clothing so prominent at the time?
Brand mattered a lot back then, and people wanted everyone around them to know it when they were donning designer brand clothing. The bold colors and thick lettering of the logos of brands like Guess and Tommy Hilfiger were placed on apparel in ways which you could see from half a block down the street.
From both a marketing and social science point-of-view, this use of logos and symbols in fashion makes sense. A person can recognize a symbol with no words and completely understand what it represents and the meaning behind it. Nike is a great example of this. The Swoosh, which is their marker, was originally a shoe manufacturer. Now, it is a multinational and multi-billion dollar industry. If nearly all Westerners were to see that Swoosh, they would instantly understand the brand behind the logo.
Symbols also signify a sense of belonging – the idea you are part of something bigger than yourself. Step back towards modern fashion for a moment and consider the current popularity of clothing featuring the Greek name or symbol of a person’s given college sorority or fraternity. Providers of this sort of apparel, such as GreekU.com, can’t complete orders fast enough to keep up with demand. People love to wear clothing which showcases their association with something.
With this in mind, sports is on the top list when branded clothing works. Michael Jordan of the NBA to Michael Phelps of the US Olympics and Tiger Woods of golf are just a few examples of big-name athletes with big contracts for lines of apparel. There are numerous and even obvious recognized logos from all over the market of sportswear. Even now, many of the top recognized sports legends from all over the globe are getting or already have their own brands by these corporations.
The question still remains, what is the purpose of these logos and symbols? And do they really work to communicate with the rest of the world what they are trying to say to the consumer? Of course to say the least, with most of the sportswear being used by the big leagues in the United States and in other countries for most notably soccer, these corporations are not saying simple statements like “credibility” and “made in America” anymore; they are communicating that anyone can be a part of their branding and they are encouraging joiners.
However, there are certain images of fashion trends that will forever live on in memory and only photos can tell the horrid tale of some of them; since most people will try to deny those high school embarrassing photos. Welcome to the 1990s, where hip-hop and grunge are taking the streets and crop tops and plaid reign supreme in fashion. The Tommy Hilfiger craze of the 90s was truly not a joke. It was more than a craze, it was a celebrity endorsed monstrosity of symbolism. If anyone had Tommy Hilfiger, they flaunted it and the bigger the label the better.
As we head into the 2020s, fashion, of course, has modernized itself again to a hipster identity. Big logos have long been gone and the corporate identities are coming to a halt that is placed on clothing. People want to be their own and not branded by what they see as a corporate monster that they feel is giving free advertisement.
As ever evolving it will be, fashion always makes a statement. Being proud to show off a name like Tommy Hilfiger or Michael Jordan was exceedingly important to any teen 20 years ago. A current trend of showing off a unique style and twist that each can call their own is paramount.