As King Lear says, Act V, scene ii, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no.’ Shakespeare is often credited by my wife with coming up with some great lines, but, hell’s teeth (was that one of his?), he certainly hits the spot there, even for me, when it comes to the subject of logos and labels on clothes.
Now it is true that this phenomenon is not entirely new. For instance, I used to have a comic – was it Jack And Jill? – when I was still in snake belt and short trousers, in which the heroic children proved their virtue by tugging the back of their sweaters’ necks to one side, and revealing the Ladybird label. (I can’t recall if this was in any way related to the Ladybird books. They might have had a sideline in knitwear, but it does seem unlikely.)
It it is now, however, very hard to buy even the simplest garment, and the simplest garments are what I always wear, provided that they are black, and this not because I am in mourning, but because bright colours – any colours, really, except perhaps navy blue – show off my worst feature, which is where my waist once was – it is hard, as I say, to buy the simplest garment without it possessing a badge, a logo, a secret sign, or, let’s face it, an Advert. Most of us walk the streets wearing stuff that subtly screams ‘I bought this at XXXXXX’. Sorry, that’s confusing. XXXXXX was intended to be a generic shorthand for logo-smirched clothes, but I can see it might look like a size. I’m not that many Xs yet.
And if it’s not advertising a brand or a shop, it comes with a message, or even a joke, or a picture of a rock star.
My particular unfavourite is the tiny dinosaur. Is it a dinosaur? I checked this out, and I can’t get my dabs on it. However, I did find a surreally fantastic site, which belongs to a swimwear and diving-suit company called ‘NoLogo’. Hey, that’s great! Someone out there thinks like me! Look at this:
That’s right – on that leg. It’s the NoLogo logo. It’s a red no-logo logo with a line through it. Foiled again.
If I wanted a Gap T-shirt (heaven forfend), I would not want it to say GAP. If wear a pair of jeans (they were quickest into this trick), I do not want my right top backside to say Levi, Wrangler, or George at Asda. Sometimes, of course, it’s just a little (irritating) flag, hitched to a pocket. Impatiently (to cries of ‘No!’ from my wife) I get the nail scissors to it. Many’s the seam I have wrongly unstitched in my haste to remove the evidence of the place of purchase.
On the other hand, no that’s confusing, contradictorily, I would quite go for a tattoo. But what would it say? Would I have ‘Courtesy Of My Parents’ stencilled on my skin? Or ‘Grown Over Time’ on my legs? And what would happen if I got religion (increasingly unlikely)? Would I have to start again and have ‘To Dust This Shall Return’ on my back, or ‘God’s Boddikins’ in a discreet and unmentionable place?