Customise your chest

A lot is written about the way online/social media enable people to create identities for themselves. However some of the oldest, most analog and physical media also offer possibilities for individuals to tailor the ways they present themselves to the world.

Promotional clothing such as t-shirts and hoodies is an example. Digital printing and embroidering techniques mean personalised kit is easy to come by. One effect of this is to make apparently official gear, eg with university logos, accessible to anyone who wants it, and therefore effectively outside the control of the logo police. (In other words don’t complain to me – they could have come from anywhere!)

Customised clothes have become the norm, eg gear with crests and logos on the chest, and things like teams, dorm names, and nicknames on the back. At Edge Hill there is a fashion for adding a name directly underneath an embroidered logo. This area was planned to be where, say, a Faculty or campus would be mentioned – for instance I have one with ‘Corporate Marketing’ embroidered beneath the logo. So far, so corporate. However I’ve seen all kinds of things: ‘Foxy Chick‘ has a certain postfeminist panache, but wasn’t what we had in mind when we wrote the visual identity handbook…

Hockey Slags’ – as a team name proudly emblazoned on the back of some hoodies – seems to be of a different order. ‘Cool – it reclaims an offensive term and thereby robs it of its power!’ cries my inner media boffin, enthused by the layers of irony. Nevertheless I doubt that Miss Hale (the first Principal, whose stern picture adorns Sages Restaurant) would have approved. Maybe I shouldn’t either.

One thought on “Customise your chest

  1. Interesting points Roy. Hebdige (1979) suggests this fashion for customisation of “official” clothing or uniforms in order to subvert existing meanings in an effort to make them ‘cool’ eventually results in the homogenization of the subculture thus making it unattractive as a rebellious (and thus marketable) force.

    Given the above, would the ideal promotional clothing be that which promotes the institution by stealth? That is, raising brand awareness virally through a range of official merchandise that is attractive to those without affiliation to the institution purely as a fashion item. Not exactly Edge Hill Prada bags but something aesthetically attractive that promotes the institution without falling in to the same design/fashion cliches of standard “university of anywhere in the world” merchandise or resorting to an undesired common denominator. It would have both full corporate control but also that ‘underground exclusivity’ that is apparrently so attractive to Generation Y.

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