Logo Mania: A call to action to our crisis of connection

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(Trent Szmolnik, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by one of our readers, Dr. Paul L. Hokemeyer, an internationally renowned clinical and consulting psychotherapist. The opinions expressed within reflect only the writers’ views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue. 

At this year’s Fashion Week in Paris, the runways and sidewalks were littered not with luxurious materials, sublime tailoring and elegance that whispered elegance and
class, but rather with American super sized labels of fashion houses adorning cheaply made synthetic garments and shoes. It was if a derelict gang from East Los Angeles staged a coup d’Etat, overthrew the aristocracy of the Faubourg Saint-Honore and reclaimed the power of the under class.

While the brashness of today’s logo mania is new, the use of logos to enhance garments and accessories is not. During the late 1980 and early 1990’s, periods of economic expansion and relative political stability, logos were used to identify membership in an aspirational club, and hope of class and economic transcendence. In contrast, today’s logo mania uses designer labels as caricatures that speak to the anger and hostility that’s resulted from our zeitgeist of interpersonal disconnection and the narrative of political and economic betrayal. In this regard, the garishness of logo mania represents a primitive and archetypical struggle for power. It’s a visible and emotional reaction of people who’ve lost their voices; and who have appropriated the highest echelons of fashion to reclaim it.

This impudence of high fashion is call to action. It’s akin to a one-year-old child who trapped in her high chair overturns her portage to get her mother’s attention. Void of personal agency to change the world that entraps her, she acts out, “See me! Hear me! Validate my existence!” Her end game is not to be perceived as elegant or sophisticated. It’s to make a mess and create a disruption. If she can’t connect through compassion and empathy, she’ll do so through forcefulness, vulgarity and anger.

And in our modern world, we are living in a crisis of connection. The void between the have’s and the have not’s has become as vast as a harsh as Africa’s Saharan desert. Financial and political capital is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands and used to destroy our planet, to build walls, cage children and create tools of human annihilation. Populism has swept the globe and has engulfed the United Kingdom in the flames of Brexit. America is suffering under the weight of the polarized politics and vulgarity of the Donald Trump presidency. Venezuela suffers in a humanitarian crisis and political betrayal. France is using political force to manage the voices of the Yellow Vests and the list goes on. At the core of these social disruptions is the inability of people robbed of their voice to feel validated and to have power in and agency over their lives.

This dynamic, wherein human beings need to feel a sense of place in the world, validated and with purpose has been one of the foundations of fêted philosophers and
psychological thought leaders for generations. The concept was articulated as “the will to power” in Fredrick Nietzsche’s work. Through it, he described the dynamic as a central catalyst in life, one that compulsively pulls human beings out of obscurity towards their highest possible positions. Unfortunately, the majority of human beings in our world economy struggling in our zeitgeist of class division and the annihilation of opportunities for personal expression and class transcendence, have had their will to power stifled and rendered impotent.

Logo mania, with its garish and exaggerated focus on the façade of supremacy is a current manifestation of our human will to power. It’s a war cry of the masses, human beings who’ve been marginalized in our economy of division, starving for dignity and purpose for their lives. It mirrors back their emptiness and primal need for a sense of place in a world that has discounted and ignored them. It’s desperate. It’s unattractive. But that’s the point. If you wont see me for me, I’ll show you the vulgarity of your privilege by adorning a storied label on a pair of plastic slide ons. It may make no sense from economic or aesthetic point of view, but that’s the point. It’s primal in nature and as such resonates outside the confines of logic and reason.

Is elegant? No. Can it be effective in uniting our fractured psyches and world? Maybe.

The point of logo mania is to create an emotional response to the split that exists between the ridiculous and the sublime, the have’s and the have nots, the powerful and the powerless. It highlights the painful reality of living in a world of unprecedented abundance while suffering in individual silos of scarcity and emotional pain. It’s disruptive. It’s unsettling. It’s visually offensive. It’s unresolved. It’s a mirror of our modern zeitgeist.

Is this to say we should whole-heartedly embrace the trend by going out and running up our credit cards with a pair of $2,000 Gucci trainers? Absolutely not. The key to marshaling the power inherent in logo mania is to cultivating awareness of its message and appropriating it into actionable steps to change the direction of our world. Rather than mindlessly buying into or discounting logo mania as a superficial trend that will pass, lets use it to address the pathological forces that it represents. So instead of spending money you don’t have on expensive designer goods, make a donation to a NGO that supports a cause you believe in. Organize your mates to fight against the inequities you see around you. Boycott companies that are raping and pillaging our planet or that fail to honor women and other minorities. Use social media to talk about their malfeasance. Instead of appropriating the label of another, find your own unique voice and broadcast it loudly. Reclaim your power rather than sitting by watching it erode.

About the author

Dr. Paul L. Hokemeyer is an internationally renowned clinical and consulting psychotherapist who works with individuals and families in the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union. His academic and clinical research has been published by Lambert Academic Press, The Journal of Wealth Management and is the topic of an upcoming book titled Fragile Power: How Our Focus on Wealth, Fame and Having It All Diminishes Our Humanity to be published by Hazelden/ Simon & Schuster, October, 2019. He will be speaking on the power of fashion at iCAAD, 03 May 2019

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