The luxury fashion industry can be extremely competitive. It is full of centuries-old, storied houses that are fiercely competing for supremacy on the catwalk as well as at the mall concession.
Part of the reason these brands have had such longevity is their ability to balance their heritage and signature in-house style with new developments in the world of fashion. They are flexible while remaining true to their roots. They do, at least when it comes down to their products.
Over the last two decades, many of the world’s top luxury fashion brands have eschewed their classic and often highly distinctive logos and typefaces in favour of highly minimalist, pared-back alternatives. Consider the fervent embrace for kitsch by Alessandro Michele and Triple S sneakers, which launched the luxury ‘dad shoes’ trend.
What explains this trend towards overly minimal, very same-y logos? Luxury brands have lost their imaginations or lost their ability to think creatively?
We spoke exclusively with , a Sydney-based designer and multidisciplinarian with particular expertise in fashion, who explains that part of this move towards minimalism is in part due to the increasingly online nature of luxury shopping. Digital consumption is expected to increase throughout 2021. Brands will need to be able to articulate strong views from a social, ethical, sustainable, or environmental perspective. All of this while maintaining the luxury brand values and messaging.
“The implementation of minimal logotype acts as an anchor for communication across divergent narratives while giving each creative director a metaphorical clean slate, free of any past associations or history.” Luxury brands almost hedge their bets by using minimalist branding. They don’t have to adhere to any particular style or characterisation.”
“Balmain’s logo might be minimalist, but their clothes and aesthetic aren’t by any stretch. To differentiate themselves from their competitors, these brands will continue to use other visual signifiers like distinct features on a product level in order to increase sales and perceived value.”
That said, Willett thinks that this lack of meaningful differentiation when it comes to luxury brand logos might end up stinging these brands in the long run. When consumers recognize their power as hyper-individuals they start looking for the same qualities and values in brands they align with.
For example, a minimalist Helvetica logo was replaced by a traditional serif font for branding. However, Virgil Abloh’s “AIR QUOTES”, a famous Swiss font, is still their favorite design flourish.
The move towards minimalism in logos is a shame, actually, as some of these brands’ old logos are really beautiful – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – like Burberry’s (and bring back the ‘Yves’!)