By: Briana Goldman /
Animals have always been an essential part of fashion. Our original source of clothing was animal skin and fur, eventually even becoming important enough to be considered status symbols.
Keeping them involved in the evolution of clothing, brands often choose animals to represent their brands. Animal symbolism in the fashion world says a lot about a brand and what they are selling their consumers to buy into.
Since the dawn of time, we have used animals as symbols of power, intellect, loyalty and anything imaginable. We have always worshiped animals for they are far better than our kind with their everlasting selflessness, bravery, and sense of kinship.
The fashion world is quick paced, cut throat, and ever changing, but one thing that remains forever is your logo. A lot of thought, time and money goes into selecting a logo, and the hope is that it is so strong that anyone could see it and know it’s your brand.
What cultural-historical reasons are behind the representations of successful clothing brands through the imagery of animals?
The world’s first brand to use an animal as their logo was Lacoste in 1933. Tennis player Rene Lacoste was nicknamed “the Crocodile” by fans for his “tenacity on the tennis courts, never giving up prey.” (International Tennis Hall of Fame, 2016)
When creating his athletic wear brand, he thought of how the crocodile represented him and how he would want it to represent his brand for generations to come.
Crocodiles are known for their primal instincts, specifically that of survival. They have highly acute senses, something you must have to play any sport, and to win the game at that. The crocodile’s prey/eye coordination is bar none, catching its victim nearly every time.
What A Brand, 2016
According to Margo DeMello, when the men of the Kaningara of the Blackwater tribe come of age, they skin-cutand scarred their bodies to resemble the scales of crocodiles.
The tribe believed that a crocodile spirit taught the tribe leader everything they needed to know about survival and war.
Much like a sports team, a tribe is male-centric and all things macho.
The tribe and Lacoste are the minority of expections where being referred to a crocodile is seen as an honor when we trade viciousness for tenacity.
This the perfect example of how with personification of humans and non-human animals, “Animals are like us, but also unlike us. Because of this ambiguity, they are a perfect vehicle for expressing information about ourselves, to ourselves.” (DeMello, pg. 287)
Another one of the most popular animal logos is the American Eagle, founded in 1977.
The way they depict the eagle, it is seen in flight in a graceful and free way. A true symbol of our country, especially in one of our flag’s colors navy blue, this brand is truly all-American.
The eagle is an everlasting symbol of unity for everyone, and that is the type of brand American Eagle wants to be for their consumers.
American Eagle Outfitters, 2016
The eagle is known for it’s keen eyes, power, strength, intelligence, courage, and immortality.
It’s integral that a brand would utilize an impressive animal to create a culture around its brand. Branding is the most important part of any company, especially clothing brand in an ever growing market with a plethora of options especially now in the Internet age.
As perfectly put by DeMello,
“In the case of animals, there is generally some kernel of truth at the root of the animal’s symbolic association—some aspect of its biology or behavior that make people interpret it in a particular way.” (DeMello, pg. 288)
Another one of the most famous animal logos in the fashion industry is the Abercrombie & Fitch moose.
Founded in 1892, A&F was “an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, particularly noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing rods, fishing boats, and tents.” (Schlossberg, 2016)
SmarTrend News, 2010
A softer more spiritual animal, the moose symbolizes grace, confidence kindness, pride, life and strength.
As humans, we are always personifying ourselves whether it’s with our dog or our favorite celebrity.
As DeMello said, “What animals ultimately do is allow humans to express ideas about human identity.” (DeMello, pg. 296)
Using animals as media is just another escape that we use as we are always looking for such outlets. There is meaning in everything we do, and that never falls short in picking an animal to represent your brand.
The ultimate question is, can the power of an animal logo carry the success and popularity of a brand?
Since logos are seen as symbols of power, success & money, is it the brand that’s at heart or is it really just the logo? Someone might not even like brands such as the three mentioned here, but would still buy something with an emblem just to show that they are in fashion or can afford these brands.
Animals have always been powerful symbols in the fashion world, what does it mean to you to wear an animal symbol?
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