To brand or not to brand

By Brandon LaChance, Editor
Posted 2/27/24

Looking in my closet or dresser in 2024 is way different than in 2004.

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To brand or not to brand


Looking in my closet or dresser in 2024 is way different than in 2004.

Honestly, not because of size because I still have and occasionally wear clothes I wore in high school 20 years ago, but because of brands.

My grandfather and a couple of other people would always talk smack about the labels on my clothes and would also tell me when I got older I wouldn’t wear them anymore.

In my 17/18-year-old mind, I was never going to stop wearing Fubu (which my denim jacket and jean set earned me the nickname Fubu I’m still called by close friends to this day), South Pole, Enyce, Ecko, Rocawear – mind you I originally came from larger, more populated, urban areas – and later Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch, and anything else my Pizza Hut salary could afford from the Eastbay catalog.

I laugh. It was a different time.

I laugh again. My grandpa wasn’t lying.

Fubu is used as a joke in society now.

Ambercrombie & Fitch is currently featured in a Netflix documentary which releases or reviews some not so awesome information about the company, or the ones who ran it, that took over teenager’s wardrobes in the 1990s and 2000s.

Reading this, some or most of you, have never heard of South Pole or Enyce, and only remember Ecko because of the rhinoceros in the branding and Rocawear only because Jay-Z was behind the company.

I have not seen an Eastbay magazine since I was 19 or 20.

In 2024, Aeropostale may be doing the best out of the brands regularly hanging in my closet 20 years ago as it currently has 800 locations in the United States and brought in $1 billion in revenue in 2021. However, Aeropostale filed for bankruptcy in 2016 before exiting the claim because of $243 billion from a licensing firm, mall operators, and capital-investment firms, which redirected the direction of the brand.

In other words, just 20 years later, nobody’s wardrobe looks like mine or the teenagers of the 1990s and 2000s, unless two people from two different generations only wear Aeropostale. Which is possible, honestly.

This is baffling.

Why don’t people care about brands or logos on clothes as we get older?

Why have some of these popular labels dropped off the face of the planet?

For me, it’s easy.

The money I had from slanging pizzas went to things I wanted as I lived under the roofs of other people who paid for the roof, utilities, and food.

When I got to college, it all changed quickly.

The money I made from working at the The Daily Egyptian (the school newspaper at Southern Illinois University), the Southern Illinoisan, the SIU game staff, donating plasma, the liquor store, Steak n Shake, and anywhere else I worked at during college, went to either unsupplying the supply I put on the shelves at the liquor store, paying for food, or making sure I wasn’t sleeping under the bridge next to my dorm room, which after an internet search, isn’t even offered as a residence hall anymore.

As I’ve gotten older and maneuvered through life, the labels on my clothes have been less and less and less. There are still a few items with a Nike swoosh or an Under Armor logo, but I’ve lost the necessity of having to have a “super cool” or “popular” name or image on everything I wear.

Although, some will argue this point because I wear clothes with sports teams logos on them more than I don’t. Sports are different. And also, kind of my job/career.

I don’t blame anyone for the money I spent on what was supposed to be popular. Let’s face it, it was never about comfort, it was all about rocking what everyone else was rocking, hence what I was wearing while living in cities and what I was wearing in towns.

I don’t blame our society for having us wanting to be cool. I’d say 98.7 percent of us go through it, even today.

It was fun, it made you feel good to fit in, it taught me a lesson, I’m putting that lesson to work as an adult.

Thank you to the ones who refused to buy me clothes, but bought food and paid the bills, so I could buy them.

And grandpa, I’m telling you this more and more as the days go on, you were right.

Although I’ve submitted to your statement when it comes to clothes worn from the feet up, I will be a war general with my shoes and wear Nikes, Air Jordans, and Nike Air Max until my battleship is sunk.