If one follows fashion today, whether it be street style blogs or fashion tumblrs, they will have no doubt seen trendy designer Brian Lichtenberg’s pieces. Most of his designs feature a basic item of clothing, such as a shirt or tuque, with a spin-off of a popular luxury brand’s logo on it. For example, the most popular and prevalent is the “Homies” sweater, which is modelled after French label Hermès.
Other popular brands, such as Balmain, Gucci, Burberry and Céline all have parodies of their own crafted by Lichtenberg.
Celebrities everywhere, including influential model of the moment Cara Delevigne all don Lichtenberg, or other similar street wear label’s designs; not to mention popular street style bloggers and trendy fashionistas on every street corner. The rise of street wear as high fashion, or specifically the immense popularity of fashion parody, have caused other labels, such as Reason, C.O.I, L.P.D. and more to launch their own lines of similar styles.
So why the immense popularity? Are these labels simply trying to bring street wear into the forefront of fashion, or is there a deeper conclusion to be made?
In all cases, these clothes are meant to be worn ironically, as most anti-fashion pieces are. They are in no way meant to be a method of fooling people into believing that the high end brands that they are parodying have actually produced the garment. This motive would be the antithesis of this movement, as this movement seeks to challenge fashion by replicating its greatest and most expensive names both in the aesthetic and design of their logos, and then transform it into something else. In some cases, the parodies are slightly naughty or profane, such as C.O.I’s “Cuntier” hats (parody of jewellery brand Cartier), or Reason’s “Comme Des Fuckdown” clothes (parody of Japanese brand Comme des Garçons), but mostly, the parodies are simple words that sound like the brand’s name; Homies instead of Hermès, Féline instead of Céline.
Since these labels owe their popularity to parody, one has to wonder if this is done with some sort of malice to the fashion industry. This is an industry constantly being challenged and criticized due to its unaffordable price tags, its elitism, its superficiality and its way of imposing unattainable and unhealthy beauty standards on the masses.
“Our work is not a middle finger to the fashion world” as C.O.I explains in an interview with Paper Magazine. The brand stresses that they only parody labels they love, and it is not done out of malice, but admiration and playfulness. The brand also hopes to see a rise of street wear in high fashion, and is pleased that parody brands allow this to happen. By parodying brands, they feel as if they are creating a dialogue between the consumer and the fashion industry, as the buyer is aware that the parodied brand is not the original, and are prepared to bring that statement to the streets or into their personal wardrobe. The main statement trying to be made is that fashion does not have to be so serious or elite. People of all classes are taking famous logos and making them their own. High fashion is no longer untouchable.
This is a very liberating sentiment, as high fashion is no longer a monologue. These street brands are pushing back and bending the rules of fashion, not to necessarily confront the industry, but to liven it up a bit. This movement is not anti-fashion in the sense that it is against fashion, but rather, its farcical tendencies place it in a category that is indirectly seeking to challenge it. The slogan of “Homies” might be more relevant than the prestige of Hermès. Perhaps the Comme des Fuckdown shirts, which sounds like “calm the fuck down” are a droll statement to these luxury labels that try so hard to keep a level of prestige attached to their name.
These designs are effortlessly cool, and are still dominating the fashion scene. This movement is interesting, as it is reminiscent of of Dada-esque art. Dada art was a movement that took art from its original form and transformed it, for the same purpose of trying to contextualize the world of art, which had very serious rules. The yearn to bend and challenge strict rules has not disappeared over the course of history, and these street wear brands seem to be putting their fingers on the cusp of the newest Dada movement in fashion.
This movement is liberating and light-hearted; and it manages to make a statement without any over the top malice or slander. This is not about the proletariat rising up against the upper-class, it is simply allowing the masses to have a humorous voice in an industry once seen as impalpable.
These brands are much more affordable than their high end counterparts and are available at many retail stores. For anyone who wishes to have a piece of the action, one can purchase these styles on any of the mentioned designers’ websites, or popular online clothing stores such as Asos, Revolve and Dolls Kill.
Marcel Duchamp’s ‘L.H.O.O.Q’,a Dada piece that parodies the iconic Mona Lisa
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