The Champion Logo, In The Hands Of Fashion’s Provocateurs, Is Reborn

by MR Magazine Staff

Late last year, the high-fashion radical pranksters of Vetements released what would become one of the brand’s signature pieces: a misshapen hoodie with a logo on the chest that played off the traditional Champion script logo, rotating the oversize C 90 degrees to make a V. Ava Nirui, a writer, artist and part of a loose group of bootleg-influenced design provocateurs who use corporate identities as raw material, thought the price, around $700, was outrageous. “A brand on the come-up doesn’t have a right to charge that much money,” she said. And so she decided to poke fun at Vetements by seeing its borrowing, and raising it — or more to the point, interrogating it. One at a time, she took actual Champion sweatshirts and incorporated the elongated-C logo into the names of other designers — Rick Owens, Chanel, Gucci, Marc Jacobs — by embroidering the names around the C in utilitarian font. She made them for herself, snapping pictures and posting them to her Instagram account with a shrug emoticon as the caption. “A lot of people misconstrue what I’m doing,” she said. “I’m not trying to start a fashion brand. I’m trying to make people uncomfortable.” Vetements’s cheeky appropriation and Ms. Nirui’s meta-cheeky reappropriation represent two phases of what has become a mini-resurgence of interest among tastemakers, from high fashion to streetwear, in the Champion logo, one of the most iconic marks in American apparel. In the hands of these recontextualizers, the logo, whether the stand-alone C or the full script rendering, is reborn as something of an ideological and aesthetic blank slate, an axis upon which to turn and a foundation for new ideas. This burst of renewed interest has extended to the brand’s history. The sneaker reseller Flight Club in New York currently has a floor-to-ceiling grid of dozens of 1980s and ’90s American-made Champion sweatshirts, which have been selling briskly. “The Champion sweatshirt is such a regal piece,” said Josh Matthews, the director of merchandising at Flight Club and a longtime collector of the brand. Read more at The New York Times.