Logos are an affirmation. In the fashion industry, logos are a status symbol that you wear on the outside. That is certainly the case with premium brands. It started with the first wave in the 90s, when we had the bold D&G prints on pullovers. The motto clearly was “more is more”. Logos were the pass that got you into the “exclusive club” of people who could afford luxury brands. Merciless copying of these brands meant it lost its charm and became quite the opposite: the expression of mass junk. This wave was then replaced by the countertrend: understatement. Loud flaunting was out and people practised a new modesty: less is more. Brand logos almost disappeared entirely and only insiders were able to recognise a brand from elements of its style.
Logos are now back in again. Only they are different from the 90s. They stand for the attitude of their respective fashion designers, who are signed on by large fashion houses in order to reach generation Y and Z. The brand alone is no longer enough; the target audience wants to be spoken to holistically. And so, brand messages for example provocatively come across as a political message, for instance through a DHL logo that is intended to draw attention to the situation of parcel deliverers within the company. In part, this reflects a standard of living, such as in the case of Gucci. Imperfection reflecting a rather lower standard of living. That is the attitude of the designer Alessandro Michele and is not the identity of the Gucci brand. Alessandro Michele is regarded as one of the most influential designers, giving a contemporary perspective to the traditional brand. If a fashion label – high fashion, streetwear or otherwise – changes its logo, it always sends a message about the brand to its public.
Zara doesn’t have design chiefs who exemplify an identity, and so it has to reinvent itself over and over again. The new Zara logo is similar to logos such as VOGUE and HARPERS BAZAR in terms of its typography and NARS in terms of its stylistic kerning elements. Zara’s new classical Roman type face, with very strict, linear font, is exciting and rich in contrast with its very thick base line and extremely fine hairlines. By taking this step, Zara aims to move up into the league of luxury brands. The message is moving away from excessive mainstream and more towards making a statement. So what you can read into this step? The desire to be taken seriously as an own label with its own fashion competence. This is what the new logo should also be communicating: to no longer be interchangeable but be unique. In this case, discerning and not banal. That is spot on for a brand logo. And even more so for a word mark.
Technically, however, I don’t really think the new logo has entirely succeeded. Serifs and kerning are just too much of a good thing here. You can hardly recognise the “R”; it reads as “ZABA”. The logo seems as though it’s been pushed together after a rear-end collision. “Z” is the only letter to have come out of it unharmed. You can see what they were trying to do, but the new logo lacks sovereignty.