You’ve seen them all — Nike, Adidas and Louis Vuitton are just a few of the brands that have caused people to want to wait in line all night and spend outrageous amounts of money on those products. As a society, we have become infatuated with fashion brands — both what they mean to us and how they represent us. Fashion has always been a big part of popular culture, but with time and increasing media exposure, it has also become how some people shape their identities. A brand name adds value to whatever product you’re buying beyond what you would use it for.
Over the years, fashion has continuously been associated with the attainment of those fancy words like class, exclusivity and innovation. For example, we hope that buying a $3,000 Louis Vuitton bag will grant us access to an elite and exclusive society. But will it? In truth, it’s up to what everyone around us believes. In fashion, we are always striving to move from who we are to who we can be.
Ever heard the saying “fake it till you make it?” This is embodied in how we present ourselves to society, mainly through how we dress. Take Nike — what started out as a basement company has become one of the biggest brands in the world. It exudes passion, dedication and authenticity — traits that people can really identify with. So if the Nike swoosh connects with the buyer, well of course they’re going to wear that swoosh!
Another way Nike goes about casually creating an apparel empire is through emotional branding. They can sell their clothing by evoking powerful and uplifting emotions in someone. Nike is not alone in this strategy, as tons of brands have built sentimental value into their logos and products.
One student commented, “Brooks Brothers has a strong place in our family. It's the brand that gets handed down and we like to treat ourselves to their clothes when we want something nice. There is a lot of sentimentality there.”
It's interesting that one clothing brand can have such strong meaning to someone. We live in a time period where big apparel brands like Chanel or even Adidas have established themselves in the social consciousness. Each has a lineage and a story that is connected to the brand which people take pride in associating themselves with.
A huge part of the fashion-brand phenomenon is our obsession with celebrities. There is a culture centred around living vicariously through their glamorous lives. It’s no surprise that we will surely emulate whatever brands they wear. Yes, I will be the first to admit I follow the Kardashians religiously.
But take Rihanna — when she wore a cap from the small French clothing brand NASASEASONS, their sales drastically increased. This just goes to show how much influence celebrity endorsements can have on the fashion world. They don’t just influence what we wear, but also what designers create and whom they create it for.
At times, brands seem more lifelike than the clothing we wear ourselves. Brands last longer because they can be used to represent our personality for years to come.
A fellow student said it best — “I don't think it's bad that people like a brand, but I think it's bad when you only buy something because everyone else is buying it. You don't need another person's approval to validate your worth.”
The fashion brand phenomenon can be positive — it unites communities and motivates us to achieve our aspirations. But it’s important to remember that brands are not what define us — it’s how we make those brands our own that does.