09 Know your logos
What do Calvin Klein, Burberry, Celine, Brioni, Maison Margiela, Rimowa and Church’s have in common? You’ll be aware that they all make items of a certain luxury. And aside from that? They’ve also all recently changed logos.
This arguably started with Hedi Slimane, who in 2012 rebranded Yves Saint Laurent, by shortening the name and deploying his favourite Helvetica bold caps. “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” T-shirts appeared: he sued the maker of those, then doubled Saint Laurent’s profits. He also appeared to own the rights; after his 2016 departure Saint Laurent’s logo had to change again so the two “Ns” and the
“Ts” now join. A similar hoo-ha occurred this year when Slimane’s first move at Céline was to drop the acute accent, space the letters out and again use bold Helvetica caps. (People took to London streets to graffiti the accents back onto Celine posters.)
Elsewhere, Peter Saville — the Joy Division and New Order record sleeve designer — has created new logos for both Calvin Klein and Burberry in the last 18 months. In the same period, Brioni has returned to its original logo after a disastrous season where it experimented with a Spın̈al Tap font and Metallica fronting its ads.
In other news, Church’s will be known as Church & Co henceforth, while Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci have played with this idea of change — “Guccy” jumpers riffed on the bootleg streetwear craze of misspelling designer names. Of course, when we buy fancy clothes we’re also buying into a brand’s identity. Changing the logo keeps them front and centre of our minds. It’s now become the first move of a new creative director. And woe betide anyone who suggests any of this is some kind of publicity stunt.
“It’s in no way about marking my territory,” Slimane explained of accent-gate. “All fundamentals must be carefully considered without losing sight of the long-term goal. It’s about putting the church back at the centre of the village. It’s orthodoxy, quite simply. Installing language elements that are rooted in the original history of the house, its foundations, returning to an architectural and graphic alignment is essential to the project.”