Fashion 101

How to Avoid ‘Over-Branding’

adbusters brands flag How to Avoid Over Branding

Brands are a fickle facet of fashion. It’s intricately related to demand and how much we covet a given object,
Brand Selection, while inevitably also saying something about who we are. Brands convey a message, and whether we acknowledge it or not what we wear says something about us. Your mother may have told you not to judge a book by its cover, but odds are, not everyone’s did.

So we’ve assembled a short piece on how you might want to think about branding, because ultimately you should be the kind of man that speaks for himself, and doesn’t have his Louis luggage do it for him.

Brand Selection

When we look at the status that brand names bring to an individual, we have to look beyond what is the most expensive or most trendy and simply recognize what is cool. Most labels, short a few, are usually pretty keen on having their logo displayed on their customers and it is up to you to decide which ones you will support.

Menswear mainstay, the designer polo style shirt for instance, has become the forum for showing off your success level and style prowess. However any expensive top alone, cannot provide the cred its price tag may boast. Understanding why the laurel wreath of a Fred Perry garment is inherently cooler and endlessly more sophisticated than say that of Christian Adigier, is the first step towards a life of proper label selection. Brand that have endured as icons for decades are pieces that will hold value – and stay current – over the long run. They’re an investment.

Although certain labels reflect current cultural leanings, you can avoid the flash-in-the-pan trends by sticking with heritage brands. Gant, Red Wing, Filson or L.L. Bean for example, have made empires out of creating timeless classic pieces, with minimal branding and not succumbing to every fleeting street trend.

Don’t be a Walking Billboard

Whether we like it or not, our clothes say a lot about us, and those items with explicit branding convey a marketing message as much as one of style. So can a person subtly nod to certain fashion houses without becoming a walking, talking advertisement? Perhaps the answers to these conundrums can be found in one simple word, “moderation.” Try only having one or two visible logos in your outfit and by all means, avoid wearing any to a formal engagement. History shows that the more conservative the piece, the less likely it is to be covered in garish branding.


If a man decides he likes Tommy Hilfiger, he will likely gravitate towards all Hilfiger clothing regardless of whether of not he actually cares about the item, because he has decided that Tommy Hilfiger is his brand. The result tends to be a closet full of hats, tops, pants and shoes all bearing the same company logo. (I once knew a kid in middle school whose mother worked for Hillfiger, his school picture is more dated than most, to be sure)

Take an interest in not only varying your fashion labels, but what the label is best known for. In the case of jeans, there is little debate about the immediate integrity a label like Levi’s brings to one’s ensemble. In fact, one could argue that a pair of Marc Jacobs jeans at triple the price, don’t even carry the same credibility as this working class peer. Why? Because, Levi’s are known for good jeans, plain and simple. Having various select brands in your collection and finding out what a label is known for is a good way to building a wardrobe of quality and substance.

Mixing Old & New

Since the explosion of bohemian chic, women have been tirelessly trying to find that ideal combination of upscale fashion and thrift store style. Moreover, what we can learn from them is that there are some items that get all the attention and others that really don’t matter.

Women have embraced the idea that some things are best left understated and inexpensive in order to leave room for the important pieces, like accessories.

For us men, simple items like sunglasses and sneakers can completely make or break an outfit and ultimately are examples of where we should be putting our retail dollars. Except for outlandish examples like ‘Shutter-Shades’, accessories can be had for a range of prices, and rarely fall out of style for more than a year or two.


You have been given the power to think and to choose. Hopefully we’ve helped ease the stress of dealing with branded clothing and have set you on a life course of conscious shopping. Always remember that you are your own man. No one: labels, magazines, or peers can dictate what you should wear. It’s easy to look at men’s magazines and see all those beautiful pieces on perfect models and want each and every piece; but remember that their money pushing a culture that consumes anew with every trend and runway show. Find out a brand’s history, know their associations and above all else keep your brands subtle, masculine and reflective of the man you want to be.

Andrew Todd

Andrew Todd

When Andrew is not tracking down the latest Toronto street fashion with his trusty Canon, he’s spinning rare soul and disco at one of Toronto’s hottest clubs. Fashion and style have always driven this man of action. When you see him on the streets, be sure to give him a nice pose.
Andrew Todd

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What's on your mind?

  1. I avoid conspicuously branded clothing. There have been many pieces I’ve liked but passed on because of a prominent logo. The quality of one’s clothing should speak for itself. Quality has a voice all its own and needs no special symbols or logos to speak for it.

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