Unbranding Fashion: Strategically Ditching the Logo
PSFK recently wrote about Freshjive’s initiative to remove its logo and brand name from its clothing and inner labels. The blog refers to Freshjive’s latest design approach, which consists of plain black labels that only detail the garment’s size encased in a white frame, as an anti-branding campaign. This is a misreading of the streetwear company’s strategy, which is to unbrand itself in order to create a new identity or establish a different kind of relevance within the fashion industry. Freshjive’s owner and designer, Rick Klotz, states, “Throughout the years I’ve become uncomfortable with this business of branding and brand identity. I’m not the type of person that buys something for the brand name.” He goes on to describe the presence of logos on clothing as an anathema to individualism.
Consumers are steadily becoming more critical of branding and Klotz is cleverly flattering his fanbase for their resistance to advertising. Freshjive is great example of product displacement emerging as an effective marketing strategy in the real world (See my post on Starbucks). Klotz essentially unbranded Freshjive to create a new, poignant identity that appeals to its discerning clientele. By unbranding Freshjive, Klotz has created an opportunity to distance his brand from rival companies and re-encode what his label stands for. He admits the minimalist garment labels are a form of branding and in a comment on PSFK writes, “I am aware it’s not a “pure” non branding move. But I still believe the process of taking the logo/name off the labels (while still retaining the label) is a step in a good direction, and in the least creates awareness and further critique.”
On that note, one element that is present in many instances of fictionalized product displacements on television is the use of parody. It seems Klotz intends on parodying iconic logos and warns branders, “Careful when building an influential logo, as I just might use that influence through some further graphic manipulation, and throw it back out into the market like a brick bashing through a window.” Klotz’s removal of Freshjive logos coupled with his intention to mock other brands for the sake of raising awareness to branding, situates his fans as both ad busters and consumers. This rather unique combination that capitalizes on media literacy and skepticism.