My Love-Hate Relationship with Designer Logos

Most monogrammed designer accessories like handbags, shoes, and sunglasses make me nervous for these reasons:
  1. Sometimes the prices are downright scary. They make me break into a cold sweat as I contemplate how I could put that money toward a plane ticket to wherever I want to vacation next.

  2. I just don't agree with the supply-demand principles behind ostentatious branding. The ones hawking the wares seem to think they can sell anything with a schpiel about "a tradition of excellence and quality craftsmanship" and a big honking logo or all-over monogram print on any item imaginable. The ones buying the merchandise with a really distinctive or flashy logo seem overly anxious to let everyone know that they own something designer.

  3. Based on personal experience, I don't think style is directly correlated to how much money you have or how many designer items you own. I window-shopped Fifth Avenue and received multiple compliments from sales people in posh stores on my gray flower applique toque (less than $8 at H&M!). In Coach in Vancouver, one of the sales ladies complimented my gray Old Navy sweater purse. I said thanks and moved on, thinking she was just flattering me, but five minutes later she walked up to me and asked me where I'd bought it. Incidents like these always delight me because they prove you don't always have to spend a lot to look luxe, polished, and put-together.

Because logos and all-over monograms are so distracting and attention-grabbing, I'd feel awkward, pretentious, and self-conscious wearing them.

Okay, so herein lies my ambivalence: I'm against ostentatious logos on principle, but a small petty part of me still wants to let people know that something I've spent quite a bit on is designer. I'm not completely against monogrammed items if I think the signature trademark or logo is incorporated in a stylish yet subtle way. I don't want my things to scream luxury but to purr it. I want people to notice how stylish or beautiful something looks before they notice the brand name that's attached to it. So, for example, my Chanel sunglasses have small white monogram C's on one side, a white camellia on the other side, and quilting details on the arms, and classic sleek styling. Unless you're a coinesseur of all things Chanel, you don't notice the brand until you look at them up close and from a certain angle, and I prefer it that way.

This ambivalence was what led me to visit Coach after work yesterday. In NYC, I saw a strawberry cell phone charm at Coach that I couldn't get out of my head:

I've never been one for cell phone charms, but it was so small and cute and shiny! I also love how the signature C is turned sideways and upside-down in the strawberry, which is pretty ingenious and looks like it's part of the strawberry itself. You can't even tell it's Coach until you look at it really closely.

Sadly the charm's string was too thick to pass through the tiny holes in my cell phone, but I did scoop up this wristlet while I was there:

The smooth leather and multiple shades of tan and brown make this wristlet more versatile and durable than the inexpensive brown fabric Payless wristlet I bought more than a year ago - which incidentally, is being demoted to makeup/organizational pouch after this purchase. Again, I like how the monogrammed C's are subtle so that people can't spot it as Coach from a mile off.

As I was looking around, one of the sales ladies showed me this tote, which has left me feeling conflicted and confused ever since:

I've been looking for a large purse suitable for use as a work/day bag year-round. The shade of green on this bag is perfect with every winter wool coat and light spring/summer jacket that I own. The pockets and compartments keep everything organized. It's the perfect balance of a bright pop of colour and a neutral print, which means it's eyecatching but won't make folks think I skinned Kermit the frog to make my purse. The coated canvas is low-maintenance and stain-resistant.

But argh!!!! That allover "signature C print." What stopped me from buying this tote, apart from not wanting to spend over $400 in Coach on one day, was imagining myself walking down the street with it on my shoulder or in my hands, and feeling awkward, pretentious, and self-conscious, knowing that every other girl I came across would spot it as Coach, and being painfully aware any time I spotted someone else with a Coach bag.

What do you think? Should I get over myself and just go for it? Or should I keep looking for another purse?

1 comment

  1. I identify utterly with your thoughts on logos and labels. Finding something of good quality that hasn't got an enormous logo on it is difficult. Looking for a new jacket this winter took me weeks of searching. I like the quality and design of North Face jackets, but I just can't get past the enormous pretentious logo -- placed not only on the front, but also on the back of the jacket.

    I think you should hold out for a purse you like better. If you're going to trade your hard-earnt cash for something that is going to influence how people see you, it's worth waiting to find something that you really like. And if you were to buy it now, and then find something better later, you'll have purse that you never use.


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