Friend Or Faux

“I used to be like, ‘as long as I’m comfortable I don’t care,’” says East senior Sihame Amlal as she toys with the gold Michael Kors watch on her wrist. “[But now] I do think the way you dress is the way you present yourself to the world. I feel like it gives you a stigma kind of, to other people like, ‘oh wow, she can wear Tiffany’ or ‘oh, she can wear Michael Kors because she can afford it.’ You feel kind of elevated from everybody else if you can wear a brand name.”

And five days out of the week, when she’s not working at Tommy Hilfiger, you can find Amlal wearing anything from her $350 black peacoat with “MK” inscripted into the golden buttons, to her huge square Prada sunglasses, to her brown and black Michael Kors boots. Amlal believes in dressing to impress, and has found that her high-end style has paid off—literally—like the time she went to court for a speeding ticket.

“The judge was really impressed with me because she had just seen [another] kid go in with messed up converse and jeans,” Amlal says, noting that the boy, like her, was charged with going 20 over the speed limit. “I was wearing dress pants, heels, a blazer, and a fancy scarf, [all name-brand.] She was like, ‘you know what? I think a fine will be okay. Just pay this fine and be careful next time.’ But he [had] to pay a fine and do two sessions of Car Teens.”

So it isn’t difficult to believe that Amlal rates the importance of fashion to her a nine out of 10. But according to Jessica Blumenthal, the Senior Director of trend research at Trendera, a trend forecasting firm, there has been a large decline in the number of people wearing brand-name clothing since 2008.

“Since the recession, there has been a big stigma around wealth,” Blumenthal tells Spark. “Logos are one way that people have traditionally shown wealth, and there’s definitely been a move away from that.”

Even what is considered the world’s most valuable luxury brand Louis Vuitton (LV), known for its incessant monogramming on just about every accessory, is beginning to move away from flaunting it’s “LV” all over its products.

“[One bag] originally came in the monogrammed canvas which is that trademark, most recognizable print, but now they make it in solid colors,” says Ana, a client service representative from LV that preferred not to give her last name. “In the last few years, I’d say you can notice that this is the direction [LV] is going. In the 90’s, there was that big emphasis on brand names. I think that was a tendency of the whole fashion market switch from the 90’s to the 2000’s.”

But don’t expect to never see a logo on a shirt or scarf again. Blumenthal says that high- end brands such as Opening Ceremony (OC) and Will Fry have taken the once logo-obsessed culture and twisted it into ironic pieces. Will Fry’s signature item, the “Expensive Sweater,” for example, is a print mash-up of tags of so-called “fancy brands.” OC released a line of white t-shirts that simply dawn the words “opening ceremony,” and additionally created a DKNY collection that Blumenthal called “more of a reference to the 90’s” than “a reference to the glamour of DKNY today.”

“It’s kind of like an anti-consumer movement toward influence that the influences are driving,” Blumenthal says. “They’re kind of making fun of the logos that we really valued and would pay so much money for in plastering them all over shirts and making fun of brands in a way you would not have seen pre 2008.”

To some East students, it doesn’t matter if their plain white T-shirt dons Ralph Lauren’s well- known logo of a little man riding a horse, which is regarded as the most widely recognized logo in the fashion industry. East sophomore Cate Strunk, for example, wears a striped sweater and jeans tucked into fuzzy Ugg-like boots. According to Strunk, as long as the product is quality, the generic route is more than okay with her.

“[Generic items] are cheaper. It usually has the same amount of quality and I can get the same look for less money, so it makes sense to me,” Strunk says. “But I have had stories of friends that have gone the generic route and people have made fun of them for not getting the brand-name nice clothes.”

In the near future, Blumenthal thinks that many teens will follow in Strunk’s footsteps and eventually begin to trash the logo. Perhaps not for less expensive options, but simply because the trend research shows logos on the decline.

“I think the move away from logo is not a move away from expensive clothing,” Blumenthal says. “I think it’s a move away from declaring that you’re wearing expensive clothing to the world in such a forward way. The evolution of high-end retail in fashion is really going to be toward quality products.”

Image Via Flickr