Remember when the trend was to wear clothes sporting your favorite brand? Whether it was GAP, Ralph Lauren, or some other brand that you thought would gain you status, the look was plastered in large letters on the front for everyone to see. It built brand awareness as it became the latest “must-have”. Today you can still find brand logos on your clothes, albeit in a much more subdued manner. One company, however, is taking a very different approach.
Freshjive, a 1989 born streetwear company, is planning to remove all logos and branding from their clothing, starting in 2010. In the same fashion, their website will not include the logo either. In an interview on www.thehundreds.com Rick Klotz, owner and designer of Freshjive (or should I say the clothing company that shall remain nameless) says, “The name of the company will still be Freshjive, it’s just that none of the products will have any logos or even a name on them”. A brandless brand? It sounds like an interesting conundrum (and perhaps a distant cousin to circular reasoning).
Without a name, how will people be able to recognize the brand? On www.hypebeast.com Klotz says, “When I see kids wearing company logos it reminds of people who are trying to be a part of a ‘tribe’ or ‘gang’, as if they need to be part of something, which seems to go against the idea of individualism in style”. So in an effort to not brand the clothing and bring back individualism, Freshjive plans to use a black box with a white border on their clothing tags and on their shirts, without any reference to the text “Freshjive”.
So if this black box will be used on all of the clothing, on all of the tags, and all in the same way, wouldn’t that become the recognizable brand? The one thing that Klotz is trying to stay away from? The answer is yes. Absolutely. Anything that is identifiable and common from one piece to the next becomes the brand–in this case accomplished without using any text. If the shape of the box was something relevant and recognizable to Freshjive, I could see this working. But, in this case I don’t think Freshjive is culturally iconic enough to pull this off.
In a world of screaming brands vying for the world’s attention, I think the understated has a place and I admire Klotz for what he is trying to do. But to achieve what he wants, Freshjive would have to eliminate any identifiable aspect to the clothing–patterns, color, buttons, patches, tags, and even the little black box. Each one would need to be a generic, almost handmade item; something that is not very realistic. Klotz wants people to think twice about buying a product soley for the brand name and personally I think he is trying to do too much with his decision to remove the name. I don’t think a nameless shirt will make anyone step back and say, “I shouldn’t be buying a brand for brand’s sake”. Let’s put this on the shelf as a good concept but bad reasoning. Now, if you will pardon me, I need to go buy a new [insert brand name here] shirt.
By: Justin Leatherman, art director