DE­SIGN ICON

Computer Arts - - Contents -

Deb­bie Mill­man re­calls how her love of la­bels and lo­gos be­gan

I fell in love with brands when I was in the seventh grade. I looked around and no­ticed ev­ery­one in school was wear­ing re­ally cool trousers with a lit­tle red tag on the back pocket. The chic fash­ion of the day also in­cluded polo shirts fea­tur­ing croc­o­diles stitched onto the fab­ric, right above the heart.

Levi’s and La­coste: the names that go along with these icono­gra­phies are in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar to us now. In my ju­nior high school years in the late ’70s, Levi’s and La­coste cloth­ing was more than my fam­ily could af­ford. Fur­ther­more, my mother couldn’t com­pre­hend why we would have to pay more for the red tag and the croc­o­dile, when the cloth­ing without them was the same qual­ity but cheaper.

To make mat­ters even worse, my mother was a seam­stress. She also didn’t un­der­stand the ap­peal of buy­ing some­thing she could make her­self. She com­pro­mised by of­fer­ing to make the very same clothes from scratch. She’d stitch a red tag into the back pocket of the trousers; she’d glue a croc­o­dile patch from the Lee­wards craft store onto a per­fectly good polo shirt from Modell’s.

While that plan didn’t quite suit my as­pi­ra­tions of be­ing a seventh grade trend­set­ter – or of be­ing voted the best­dressed girl at El­wood Ju­nior High – I ea­gerly pored through the racks of the lo­cal craft shop, des­per­ately search­ing for a croc­o­dile patch to stick on the front of my favourite pink polo shirt. Alas, there was noth­ing even close. The only re­motely re­lated sub­sti­tute I found was a cute ren­di­tion of Tony the Tiger, but that re­ally wasn’t the look I was striv­ing for.

Dejected and mopey, I rode my bike home from the craft shop. When my mum found out that I hadn’t been suc­cess­ful, I could see she felt sorry for me. So she took the mat­ter into her own hands. The La­coste shirts were too ex­pen­sive, but there were some Levi’s on sale at the Walt Whit­man Mall, and she bought me a pair. But she didn’t get the denim va­ri­ety that ev­ery­one else was wear­ing; she found a de­sign that must have been from the triple mark­down rack – a pair of lime green cor­duroy bell-bot­tom Levi’s.

It was with a mix­ture of hor­ror and pride that I pa­raded in front of the full length mir­ror in my bed­room, ever so slightly stick­ing my bum out so that I could be sure the lit­tle red tag would show. So what if I was wear­ing lime green cor­duroy? They were Levi’s. I was cool. My reign of logo wor­ship had be­gun.

Right: When she grad­u­ated high school in 1979, Deb­bie had fi­nally saved enough money to pur­chase a real pair of Levi’s and a La­coste polo shirt.

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