Skip to main content

Designer monograms are back, discovers Caitlin Agnew, thanks to luxe collaborations and directional designers giving them a cool stamp of approval

Trust DJ Khaled to bring even the most notoriously press shy into the spotlight. When the hip-hop star and Snapchat darling wore what appeared to be a silk monogrammed Goyard jacked to the VMAs in August, the reclusive brand took to social media to refute its provenance, tweeting "Total fake!" and "Not AT ALL an official Goyard item" to their 9,600 followers.

Authentic or not, the purple zip up was snazzy, and eerily reminiscent of a definitive style moment in the early 2000s. Brace yourself like you did for Y2K: Like Blink 182 and Juicy Couture tracksuits, the New Millennium is back in vogue, and heritage fashion houses are once again making noise with signature logo prints.

Gucci’s prim duchess silk skirt goes street with a graphic monogram by GucciGhost, the moniker for Nova Scotia-born Trevor Andrew, a New York-based graffiti artist.

Gucci’s prim duchess silk skirt goes street with a graphic monogram by GucciGhost, the moniker for Nova Scotia-born Trevor Andrew, a New York-based graffiti artist.

This original wave of this luxe trend reached its apex in 2006, the year that heiress Paris Hilton and pal Kim Kardashian were snapped together toting massive metallic Louis Vuitton Miroir Alma bags while wearing matching swimwear (as one does). Ten years later, Kardashian's younger sister Kylie Jenner reprised the look at Coachella, where she wore an LV-emblazoned one-piece with a matching headscarf in the brand's signature canvas.

Whether you consider them audacious or not, monograms are instantly recognizable, and the simplest way for fashion lovers to signify their style tribes. These iconic letters are such a powerful tool that even removing the "Yves" from Yves Saint Laurent in 2012 couldn't quash the label's graphic YSL. The brand's former creative director Hedi Slimane still included the motif in his collections for subsequent seasons – in Fall 2016, atop a petite, heart-shaped bag.

At Louis Vuitton, the trunk company that launched its monogram canvas in 1896, the familiar LV print is always on offer. But at the most recent Fall menswear presentation in Paris, creative director Kim Jones introduced a new greyscale version christened the Monogram Eclipse. Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has lent his eccentric touch to the brand's monogram, enhancing it with surreal, animal kingdom-inspired embroidery. The Italian label also collaborated with GucciGhost, a.k.a. Trevor Andrew, a Canadian snowboarder and graffiti artist who has been tagging dumpsters and bank machines with the house's double Gs for years. It's an eye-catching collection that will likely become as emblematic as what artist Stephen Sprouse (and designer Marc Jacobs) did for Vuitton in 2001.

A logoed bag from Michael Kors Studio.

A logoed bag from Michael Kors Studio.

It's not just the storied European houses that are returning to their lettered roots. American labels like Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Coach are re-introducing monogrammed leather bags as a way to regain cachet and maintain profit. Edgier brands aren't immune to the seductive selling power of a monogram either. Irish designer J.W.Anderson added anchor-inspired monograms to the handbags in his namesake collection, and at Madrid-based label Loewe – where Anderson is creative director – curlicued anagrams are featured on covetable accessories and bags.

With the fashion world in a state of flux, it comes as no surprise that brands are pulling out the big guns to help increase sales and awareness. In the 2007 book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre, designer Miuccia Prada is quoted as saying, "The more you want to enlarge your business, the more you have to use your logo." Or, as DJ Khaled would say, it's major key.