The Revolution Will Be Logoless

19 08 2009

Freshjive

I always prefer a logoless T-shirt over one with a logo. Call me fussy. Call me fastidious. But, let’s face it—surf companies have a gift for ruining a perfectly good shirt with a logo.

That’s why my Hanes white T-shirts always get more use than the countless free T-shirts I have obtained over the years with surf company logos on them. That’s why that Hurley button-down with the logo on front pocket has been sitting in my closet, with tags still on, for more than a year. Speaking of Hurley. Does the Hilton Hotel chain know they stole their logo?

The point of making clothes is to sell them right? In many cases it appears surf clothing designers are more concerned with advertising the brand than making a comfortable, functional shirt people will buy and wear.

Recently, Freshjive announced they would soon go logoless and brandless. Although Freshjive is not a “surf company” in the strictest sense of the word, they have sponsored surfers in the past and have advertised in several surfing-related publications.

On PSFK Freshjive owner and designer, Rick Klotz, said “I’m not the type of person that buys something for the brand name. I’ve also never done a very good job at creating a captivating identity to our own brand logo. Also, within the streetwear culture, the promotion of a company’s brand has become downright silly to me. What’s amusing is I still really enjoy designing gear, graphics, and even logos. But 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.”

Part of me thinks the move is genius. Part of me thinks they are mailing it in because no one buys their products anyway. Freshjive sells mostly to streetwear and skate boutiques. Who shops in streetwear boutiques anyway? What is streetwear? Do they have fashion shows with homeless people on the runway? I’m not sure.

But Klotz makes a valid observation in that “people who are trying to be a part of a “tribe” or “gang.” Surfers have always been a tribe or a gang in a certain sense. Most people want to belong. To be a part of something. For most surfers I think this is especially true. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But the problem is we need more leaders and fewer followers. Most surf companies offer nothing new. They copy each other continuously and the end result is stale and unoriginal.

Klotz appears to be leading. He is taking chances. And hell, he might be leading his brand to bankruptcy court, but at least he’s doing something different. And I respect that.

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