Portmanteau Commentary: When Branding gets out of Hand

Brands. In essence a name, a brand has almost as much character and social attachment, stands for as much content as does the name of a human being. In fashion and design, a brand name is marketed to convey quality, when it is in fact conveying fame. What is actually happening is that we accept that they are famous FOR being of a certain quality, almost implying that non famous brands are not entitled to use the word "label" or "brand", socially speaking, until they are actually known. This doesn't change with quality or craftsmanship. Many unknown creators and makers may create high quality garments but are still regarded to be of lesser value because the "label" isn't famous. Originally, the fashion label was only meant to be a signature of the maker. However, I have come to accept that I am brainwashed and actually enjoy and toil in the social as well as stylistic, immediate classification and implications that come with being the wearer of a certain brand. Yes, I admit I'm brainwashed, and I admit that because these social stigma have been taken on within the fashion world, they do, in fact, mean what they imply.

However, there is a tipping point. Being too popular excludes the exclusivity as we have seen with Louis Vuitton bags. Perception changes, even if I can still differentiate between the spoilt teenager who is using a vintage tote she inherited from her grandmother hence carries it with a flair of entitlement, to the horde of Londoners that wear their fakes with a sense of "Well, it's just a bag and I like that it's brown". Good point, but it does change one's perception of the brand.

There is also a tipping point in a different direction, which is that of pushing the brand too far from their own lines. In order to stay abreast nowadays, big fashion lines and stores need to be able to stock and provide the entire range of products. Chanel is no longer just about the perfectly tailored tweed two piece casual suits, but about sunglasses, bags, shoes, jewelery, anything you can think of. However, when do brands go too far? It is difficult to tell because in many instances, actually having ventured that far out of their original concept and interest was so welcomed by brand mad fashionistas that it has gradually become part of the brand's spectrum.

One instance, however, is that of what has been reported by styleite.com as an idea by Christian Dior to brand contact lenses. Am I alone or does this just seem utterly tasteless? Then again, we buy branded glasses and having contact lenses from one brand may find buyers interested in showing off they bought labeled, hence "better" contact lenses than the "normal, unlabeled ones". You know, those which may, in fact, have been created by experts, and not a fashion house.

Along these lines, not long ago, Chanel decided to bring out a limited edition of transferable tattoos of the brand, slightly shaking their elegant image marketing it as a "rock punk edge" (independent.com) to the label, which I personally think was PR bullshit to cover bringing out a gadget. A very popular one, sure. In fact, it looked pretty hot. That does not, however, make me think this is really acceptable.

At what point does the wearing of a label that we pay very big sums of money for actually become a simple form of advertising? Isn't it weird that we pay to carry the stigma and connotations of a brand when we should actually be paid for doing so since it is, in fact, advertising? As a result of this train of thought I think that the limit I would like to imagine marks the end of acceptable forms of branding is when the brand is either applied to our own body or used in a "gadget" that is a necessary form of support such as glasses and hearing aids, rather than worn as a stylised and chosen product. But that's just my opinion.