Faux designer killed the fashion logo.

Fashion relies on a snowball effect. You see something, you like it, you adopt it, you spread it like the virus in 28 Days Later. You probably infect around 10 people with the bug, who in turn probably infect 10 people. And before you know it, you’re all sick of whichever trend it was you helped transmit. Think of the last five fads you latched on to, they’re probably only a tiny percentage of the short-lived fashion items you’ve incorporated into your wardrobe throughout your life.

There’s one trend that’s rapidly approaching it’s demise, at least we hope so, a trend Viper has coined “Rebore Couture.” Beginning as far back as 2004 as a tongue in cheek dig at high-end designer brands. When broke fashion students, keen to wear Chanel but not buy Chanel, would vandalise the interlocking C’s in various ways. However in the Tumblr age, where images circulate in the blink of a satellite connection, images of paper bags plastered with Chanel stickers were constantly reblogged. Soon skater brands jumped on the bandwagon, happily willing to help mock any symbols of wealth and luxury they could. Pretty soon other logos fell victim to these wannabe anarchists, including Gucci whose gold G’s were flipped in honour of Shepherd Fairey’s Obey.

The concept of recognisable brands entering street culture is nothing new. For decades faux designer items have been sold across markets in major cities. Most people having visited London’s Camden Market will recall spotting ‘Adihash’ or ‘Cocaine’ tees with an uncanny resemblance to Adidas and Coca-Cola logos respectively. There were also the days of Dapper Dan. These days “high-fashion” is the desirable look – with sweatshops churning out cheap high-street clothing have caused people to expect fashionable, on trend clothing, regardless of their low-incomes. And so people want unique, flashy clothes for less.
Soon the race was on to find new logos to flip. No one was safe, as cult Japanese/French design house, Commes de Garçon was unfortunately adapted into the far less classy “Commes des F*ckdown.” You can visualise the Eureka moment when some uncredited Einstein cracked that code. On a more genuine note, this sarcastic writer would like to express shock and sadness that not a single lame T-shirt brand managed to figure out that Fendi can be flipped into Fiend with just one letter shifted. Luckily this was left untouched, allowing Viper to make a statement with our own tee, a comment on the state of rebore couture.

It didn’t take long for sweatshops to catch onto the trend and any vaguely cool aspect of Rebore Couture died. And now the synthetic wholesalers that reside at the grim end of London’s Oxford Street and New York’s Broadway are inundated with faux branded garments, cheapening a trend that had already become passé. Adding to the already desperately short life of the trend, the brands keen to enter into the trend without facing legal action are small, transient companies, ones able to quickly shut down and disappear. Were a high street brand to rework another brand’s logo, they would risk a lawsuit but wholesalers, independent T-shirt brands and online retailers are managing to get away with their usage by being less visible as a brand.
This is not the case for all of the Rebore Couture additions however. Brian Lichtenberg has based his career on designing clothing that mocks the logos of well-known designer brands. Calling himself a fashion designer, Lichtenberg is more skilled in forgery than design, as he replicates the logos with a similar but less significant phrase. Examples include Celine into “Feline,” Balmain into “Ballin’” plus Gucci into “Bucci”; his best known however flips Hermes into “Homies.” Having undeniably made several thousands from sales of his Rebore Couture, Lichtenberg could be identified as the man responsible for killing the trend as his reworking of so many brands has cheapened the labels. His desire to link it with rap culture, as seen with the use of phrases like “homies” and “ballin’” suggests a need to be accepted by the street wear scene. Unlikely to ever become a fashion mainstay, we’ll undoubtedly look back on Lichtenberg’s clothing one day the way we look at Von Dutch.

This is an extract from the Spring Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.

Words by Lily Mercer

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