Hominy & Hash
ANOTHER END, OF ANOTHER ERA
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Is it possible that a popular fashion (read that to be T-shirts and jeans) will actually be part of a "no logo" approach? Now, that to me is news. Good news. I have trouble finding quality sportswear that isn't emblazoned with some designer's name, initial, or logo.
I might not have been so dead-set against logos if I hadn't been raising my children during Izod's heyday. If the shirt didn't sport that little crocodile then it wasn't worn. I would show my sons and daughters the Izod shirt and ask them to compare them to the J. C. Penney's shirt.
They admitted there was no difference; chances were, they agreed, they were both "assembled" in Costa Rica with the logo being sewn on later. I thought I'd won.
Not so. No crocodile, no shirt.
"It's an alligator, Mom."
"Whatever," I answered. (But, I still insist, it is definitely a crocodile: Lacoste, the French tennis player. designed a loose-fitting shirt for comfort and his nickname over there is Crocodile. He merged with Izod. Voila!)
Gloria Vanderbilt designed jeans, usually dark blue denim or black with a feminine logo - a delicate swan and her name. She appeared in commercials herself. This spelled class. This was high tone. Put on those jeans and you could feel close to how a daughter of one of the fabulous 400 families might feel. The name "Vanderbilt" was embroidered on your back pocket.
Gloria did everything right; however, Comedian Joan Rivers sullied the image when said: "Well, Gloria Vanderbilt got even with the Vanderbilts, all right. She wrote their name across the ass of every woman in America." Ouch, that had to hurt.
The rage to make your personal mark on the designer market began: Jordache, Sasson, Chic, Calvin Klein. And, Levi's, who had its name on a leather tag across the back belt line, not only identified themselves years before the new kids on the block arrived, they also identified the cut by the color of the tag. But, they made one big mistake: They put the size on the tag as well. No teenager wants to be identified as the one with the 32 waist. So they tore off the tags, or kids opted for the designer line.
Why do parents put up with this? For one reason; they know, and they remember, how confidence can add to performance in the life of a high school freshman.
So we drove from Pittsburgh to Erie, Pa., about 160 miles, to find the Izod Outlet some parents had discovered. We bought a bag full of shirts and learned an important lesson: anything worth having is worth working for. Spending a lovely Fall Saturday on a long drive in a crowded car was work - especially since it was "my music or no music."
Two things came together today as I approached the keyboard and typed in my byline. One, I'm wearing a white sweater - short sleeve, nice cut, fits me well - but across the front in embroidered black, block letters almost two inches high are T and H. The second thing is that the sweater, a gift, is of such high quality that it feels good to have it on.
But I hate that designer Tommy Hilfiger so loves the sound of his name that he scratches his initials graffiti-like on just about everything movable.
My mother used to say, "What if you have an accident?" on every occasion. Well, what if I have one today wearing this sweater? No one would take me for Teri Hatcher - and not for Tanya Harding, either. If the only thing they had to go on were "my" initials, then no one would know who was under that white sweater.
There's another popular design that I hesitate to approach since it is so obviously letters transposed, but it's still a recognizable obscenity: FCUK. However, it really is a company: French Connection United Kingdom.
They announced they would drop their logo (not that their products aren't selling like wild fire) and are hinting they will favor the "no logo" at all approach. Oh, it's suggested, they might use some innocuous little title like a small f on a tag, as reported by Wordlab, the Naming and Branding Consultants.
The remaining letters missing from the f brand will be most conspicuous by their absence. But, the little f is enough to boost the price from $10.98 to $59.98 - and I'm being conservative in my estimate. Somewhere, someone learned that people will pay highly for prestige and these togs (and tags) carry a lot of it. But prestige is not class. That has to be there before the jeans are pulled on. (As Clare Booth Luce defined it: Class is something If you have it you don't need anything else; if you don't, it doesn't matter what else you have.)20
In an effort to not look like snobs, the high-school trend is to wear their old, beat-up jeans. Oops, they don't have any old, beat-up jeans. Not a problem: all the designers make them. Their underlings beat them up against rocks until they are full of holes and newly threadbare.
And they actually charge $125.00, minimum. No exchange; no refund.
There's nothing beat up about the nice new logo, however; that remains as a sign of the times - the times that never change as we move through adolescence. The styles do change but not the absurdity.
And, as to the confidence in a can the parents are buying for them, it's not unreasonable to given in to the purchase of a small "f" on a shirt sleeve if it's promoting the attitude of striving for an "A" on a report card.