Love them or hate them, logos are here to stay. A good logo can make all the difference in the world when it comes to defining a brand. Some represent a piece of a company’s history, while others are manifestations of a brand’s aspirations (and some are just initials). No matter the inspiration, logos are a part of the modern fashion landscape, and if we’re intent on becoming style heroes, it pays to know where they come from. Let me know what brands you’d like me to cover in the future in the comments.
Abercrombie & Fitch
First use: 1892
Long before Abercrombie & Fitch were known as an edgy clothing line for preppy 20-somethings, they were selling hunting gear to Theodore Roosevelt. Founded in 1892, A&F was the L.L. Bean of its day. After a long decline, it was revived by The Limited in the 90s. The moose has been around in one form or another since they were founded, but today it is an homage to the days when they sold outdoor clothing.
First use: 1850
The golden fleece symbol has its origins in the Catholic Order of the Golden Fleece. In the nineteenth century it was often seen hanging from shops on Savile Row that sold fine clothes and was soon painted above the door of Brooks Brothers New York store in a nod to that tradition.
First use: circa 1901
The word “Prorsum” on the knight’s banner is Latin for “forwards.” The armor represents the protection Burberry’s clothes offer. The use of a military symbol is also appropriate since Burberry – commissioned by the British army – invented the trench coat during World War I.
First use: unknown
Goyard’s logo isn’t just a clever arrangement of the letters in the family name into a logo. The “Y” inscribed in the “O” is a reference to the pattern on their famous goyardine fabric created by Edmond Goyard, whose name still adorns the pattern to this day.
First use: circa 1965
The interlocking double Gs of the Gucci logo are the initials of founder Guccio Gucci. Gucci is also known by their signature green-red-green web stripe, horse-bit inspired chain link, and bamboo-handled bags.
First use: circa 1950
The carriage and horse of Hermes’ logo harkens back to their origins as makers of metal and leather goods for equestrian purposes, especially saddles. Although established in 1837, they didn’t make their first handbags until 1922.
First use: 2000
Hollister was created in 2000 (not 1922) by Abercrombie & Fitch (not John Hollister, Sr.) to capitalize on the popularity of the Southern California lifestyle. The seagull logo is meant to evoke images of the coast and surfing.
First use: 1926
The crocodile logo comes from founder and tennis legend Rene Lacoste’s nickname. Lacoste had a friend design a crocodile patch for him and had it affixed to his blazer. It was also around this time he developed the modern polo shirt and placed the image on that as well. When Lacoste won the 1926 US Open wearing his signature logo, its popularity soared.
First use: unknown
Jean Cassegrain started in business by selling tobacco products, but the name Cassegrain was already being used by another business. He decided to name his company after the local racetrack – Hippodrome de Longchamp – which is the origin of their horse-and-rider logo.
First use: 1896
Originally, Louis Vuitton was a luxury luggage maker. His son, Georges, created the monogram and the Japanese-inspired floral pattern that appear on their famous bags today. The pattern was created to discourage counterfeiters and to distinguish the brand from its competitors.
First use: 1955
According to the official story, the Penguin logo was inspired by a drunken taxidermy purchase. The buyer was a salesman for underwear company Munsingwear. When the penguin’s head fell off on his trip home, it was reattached with a necktie. The penguin was brought to a meeting to discuss a new logo for their golf shirts and quickly found its way onto the new shirts.
First use: 1971
Ralph Lauren was started in 1967, selling hand-made luxury neckties. But it wasn’t until 1971 that the signature polo rider made its first appearance on the cuffs of Ralph Lauren’s first line of women’s clothing. The logo represents the affluence associated with the sport of polo.
First use: unknown (between 1978 and 1991)
When Gianni Versace was asked by journalist Mark Seal why he chose the Medusa logo, he replied “Seduction…. Sense of history, classicism. You stay with me or no. That’s it. Medusa means seduction…a dangerous attraction.” A fan of classical Greek motifs, Versace modeled his logo on the famous Medusa Rondanini.