Luxury fashion is often in a state of flux, trying to balance understated elegance with the need for loud statements of prestige. The simplest way to make that statement is to shout the names of the brands you are wearing with logos and monograms, but over the last few years we’ve seen a consistent trend away from overt luxury branding towards a far more subtle form of statement.

Luxury fashion is in many ways about proving to society that you are rich and powerful, achieving this by quite literally allowing you to wear that wealth on your sleeve. As a result, many luxury brands have sought to plaster their logos and monograms wherever their bags and shoes would allow. A recent study from NPD, however, suggests that consumers of luxury fashion accessories no longer want a logo to communicate the prestige of their purchase.

luxury fashion no-logo PurseBlog(Image credit: www.purseblog.com)

NPD reports that one third of handbags purchased in the US over the last year did not have any visible branding. This number rose to 40% among Baby Boomers (50-69 year olds), although among older (and therefore on average wealthier) Millennials (25-34 year olds) they also saw a year-on-year growth of 8%. In fact, a whopping 81% of Millennials stated that it was important to them that the logo on their handbag should be subtle.

Last year we noted that luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry were starting to use far subtler brand signifiers rather than loud and proud logos. It seems that this trend is not only continuing but picking up pace. Luxury brands are either shrinking down their logos and brandmarks to make them almost imperceptible, or removing them altogether. Take the Coach Gotham tote bag, for example, or Mansur Gavriel’s bucket bag.

luxury fashion no-logo ManGav(Image credit: Mansur Gavriel)

What consumer behaviours might be underpinning this trend? It appears to me that this is part of a wider trend towards the desire for exclusivity in the luxury market. As luxury brands become increasingly democratised through falling prices and rising wealth, luxury shoppers are looking for new ways to generate prestige. It is no longer possible to show off simply by flashing Gucci or Prada, and as a result luxury is increasingly becoming about craftsmanship, uniqueness, and an altogether different type of exclusivity. Just look at the rise of websites like Crest & Co and Not Just A Label, who put consumers in touch with largely unknown luxury fashion labels.

Luxury shoppers want something that no one else has, but now that doesn’t necessarily mean a high-end label. The rise of no-logo handbags is a symptom of this trend. It’s now cooler to be supporting an artisanal watchmaker than it is to wear a Rolex, so how do Rolex counter this? They generate the same sense of artisanal craftsmanship by hiding the logo, and thus dissociating the watch from their internationally recognised mega-brand. It might seem counter-intuitive, but in the modern luxury market, less certainly seems to be more.

(Banner image credit: Coach)