During my awkward teen years, brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Calvin Klein were the pinnacle of middle class fashion. If your clothing bore the logo of one of these labels, you were considered cool, on trend. But despite my Father’s desire that I dress like a preppy princess in Hilfiger polos and tennis skirts, I never cared for clothing with logos. Even a little Hilfiger flag was an instant turn-off. Why? The logic was simple:
Why would I give free advertising to a designer whose clothing I had already paid for? Why would I want to turn my body into a billboard for a millionaire with a house in the Hamptons?
Fast forward 15 years, and my dislike for visible logos persists. Every time I see a woman carrying a logo-printed handbag, even a designer bag (or Canal Street-quality knock-off), I wince. But given the prevalence of these bags on retail shelves, I’m beggining to wonder if I’m the only person who feels this way.
From the mall to 5th Avenue, handbags with printed logos and “signature” fabrics are everywhere. From Fendi and Louis to Guess and Juicy, you can find these bags in any price point and retail setting. So I asked a few friends who own printed bags why they like them?
“It’s difficult to buy a mid-priced bag without logos or designs,” says GB, a K Streeter who owns more Coach than should be allowed by law. “Once Jessica Simpson started carrying that rainbow Louis Vuitton satchel, it was all over. Now everyone has a signature print adorning at least half if their products. As long as the logo isn’t obtrusive, I think it’s fine. I own (the Coach clutch above) and they’ve made it more of a pattern than a logo.”
While I do agree that the carefully crafted logo designs are the best of the bunch, I don’t understand why all of the wristlets that Coach offers (sans the Kristen) have to have some kind of advertising (branding, if you prefer) on them. That is until my neighbor cleared it up for me.
“Dollface,” she said as she slammed her designer tote down in front of me, “the bag is a status symbol. No one wants to admit that they’re that shallow, but it’s a way to say, “Look!. I own a Fendi.” She lowered her voice as if she was speaking about the Ark of the Covenant or something.
Of course, I already knew this but I thought that with so many counterfeit designer bags out there this affect had waned. So I asked her: Doesn’t the prevalence of fakes tarnish the brand, making your particular label irrelevant?
“If I take the Metro to work, 98% of women will think my Birkin is a fake or a Mulberry or a knock-off. BUT,” she said while she pointed at me with her finger,”if I walk into Saks Jandel with my Birkin or wander into Barneys Co-Op with my Birkin, it’s like I brought Cinderella to the ball. It’s the same with my Louis and Fendi.”
Neighbor then explained that for women, handbags are like a luxury car that you hang on your arm. “I don’t know if that’s how it should be,” she said. “But that’s how it is.”
Of course, I understand her point. Carrying an expensive purse or a moderately expensive purse is a little like tattooing your salary on your forehead, but for me, it wouldn’t matter. I can’t stand printed bags!
What do you ladies think? Is a printed bag just a printed bag? Is it a status symbol? Or do you just like the purse and you don’t care that it’s covered in someone’s logo? And is choosing a bag with a discernible shape, a Birkin or a MAB, the same as choosing a bag made with yards of logo printed leather?