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Noted: What It Means to Unconsume

Oct 27, 2011

by Chappell Ellison

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

As a kid, shopping with my father always ended in defeat. Such a consumer failure was no fault of mine — my dad’s frustration stemmed from his inability to find unbranded clothing. He’d pick up a shirt, shake his head and ask, “Do they have to put this Polo logo on the front?” Little did he know it would only get worse; once just a small detail, company logos are now over-sized decorative elements. I can only hope my father hasn’t seen Ralph Lauren’s new Big Pony Collection, in which the famous Polo logo has grown exponentially. Yet a look into almost any of our closets reveals something quite astonishing — we are overly branded. Sweatshirts emblazoned with “Gap,” Victoria Secret pajama pants with “pink” scrawled across the derrière and baseball caps bearing the famous Nike swoosh crowd our shelves. Sometimes, our eyes need a little visual rest; that’s when it’s time to unconsume.

Out of the dearth of unbranded goods comes Rob Walker, author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are and creator of Unconsumption, a Tumblr where creative reuse is encouraged and celebrated. Walker coined the term “unconsumption” back in 2006 when he wrote a column in which he wondered if getting rid of stuff will ever feel as good as getting it. In exploring how to build excitement around repurposing our old belongings, Walker realized that, for now, branding is the way we add value to our objects. In other words, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. “Branding has been one of my main subjects as a journalist, and for a few years I’ve pondered if there’s a way to borrow some of the tools of brand-making to advance an idea, but without actually creating products,” Walker said in an interview with Craft. With that in mind, Walker went to Clifton Burt, who designed the Unconsumption logo; the over-turned shopping cart, almost anthropomorphized through it’s wheel-eyes, is the logo of The Uncollection, or as Walkers puts it, “the first-ever line of goods consisting entirely of stuff people already owned.”

Garth Johnson

China repurposed and branded with the Unconsumption logo.

Created under Creative Commons license, the Unconsumption logo is available for download and Walker invites everyone to contribute to The Uncollection via their Facebook page. It is a brand without products, one that represents a desire to make the world a better place, each repurposed object at a time. Through branding our upcycled goods, we can reintroduce an object to the world as something newer and better.


5 Featured Comments

  • shipwreckdandy

    shipwreckdandy said 8 years ago Featured

    The problem is the quest for 'meaning' and social recognition in the shopping cart unbrand is basically the same behind the actual brands of disdain. It's a meme, full of the requisite irony and 'clever' factor that has become the meaning. Is it not clever enough to just go to the thriftstore and score some dinnerware? No, not in the age of commentary. It doesn't seem to count unless you make it known.

  • jjd85262

    jjd85262 said 8 years ago Featured

    Why not just redecorate the existing logos. I have a "T" shirt from Microsoft and I added "Broken Windows". Anything from Apple I add "Rotten". Many times I will put a circle or heart with a line across (as in "I do not love it"). I have fun with it. Companies clearly do not like what I do. If they insist I wear their logo then I also insist on my expression. Besides, an inverted shopping cart is just as bad as any other logo (I guess it helps those who cannot think clearly).

  • sushipie

    sushipie said 8 years ago Featured

    Yes, the unbrand is a brand in and of itself. That is the point. It's using well known marketing tools (logos) to promote the reuse of goods. If you are anti logo then this idea is probably not for you. A logo is not a bad thing in principle, however the concept has been commercialized.

  • thornblossom

    thornblossom said 8 years ago Featured

    This, to me, isn't about congratulating ourselves for not being taken in by branding. It's about adding value to the *concept* of re-use for those that wouldn't do it otherwise and giving that practice a high-end feel. Anything that moves people away from the disposable, big box store way of life is a step in the right direction. Maybe not revolutionary, but a beginning.

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    TheLittleRagamuffin said 8 years ago Featured

    I started to think of brands differently the day I was out to lunch with a few friends as well as their aunt who was a well established member of the NYC artist community. I was wearing a Polo sweater (that I had recently picked up from the Salvation Army for $2.99). The aunt pointed to the Polo logo on my top and said "Oh! I painted that," almost as if she were surprised to see it on my sweater. She went on to tell the story of the elaborate painting she once made of a Polo player and how Ralph Lauren fell so in love with it that he asked her if it could be his logo. It made me realize that there still are real people and real artists behind such ubiquitous brand identities.

134 comments

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 8 years ago

    How true, when shopping with my daughter recently we could not find a polo shirt without a logo, she finally had to settle for a logo polo shirt

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 8 years ago

    But isn't the uncolletion a collection in itself? Great concept though :)

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 8 years ago

    Tutorial please! Fantastic!

  • Colettesboutique

    Colettesboutique said 8 years ago

    Sometimes it feels like it is the brand being sold, not the actual product, expecially when we find out that famous brand does not necessarily mean better quality...For me, as long as the logo is hidden somewhere inside the shirt, Its just fine. Not everyone wants to wear a shirt with a logo plastered all over...

  • PrettyPatriots

    PrettyPatriots said 8 years ago

    This is an interesting concept, I hope that it works the way they want it to, because if it does it'll be brilliant!

  • sewlola

    sewlola said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the Unconsumption link.

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 8 years ago

    So, you can brand yourself as and Unconsumptionist?

  • VeraVague

    VeraVague said 8 years ago

    very cool. i just learned about the Creative Use Warehouse in Chicago, which is kind of along these lines.

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 8 years ago

    So true. It is so hard to find a nice t-shirt without a logo.

  • wmalexalvarez

    wmalexalvarez said 8 years ago

    Whoa! That's an awesome Idea! Thrift Brand

  • aeliosdesign

    aeliosdesign said 8 years ago

    Great concept!

  • peshka

    peshka said 8 years ago

    Interesting concept

  • thecrazyelephant

    thecrazyelephant said 8 years ago

    It does feel better to get rid of things instead of getting them. Less to clean, less to organise, plus you can feel good donating to an organization that helps others or make a few bucks at a thrift store. Our family rarely buys things any more and it is great because we are spending that time together and we can use our hard earned money on things that are improtant, like becoming debt free : ) I love the logo btw!

  • yourauntiespanties

    yourauntiespanties said 8 years ago

    "Buying In" seems like it'll be a good read, I'll have to watch for it at the library~! Very interesting article!!!

  • HoneyThistle

    HoneyThistle said 8 years ago

    I love getting rid of old stuff actually - I must clean my closet at least 3 times a year. This makes moving (which happens pretty often given my current student status) all that much easier. I rarely shop anymore, and discourage others from getting things like wearables for me 'cause 95% of the time it gets donated or re-gifted.

  • littlepancakes

    littlepancakes said 8 years ago

    I guess I'm a pretty big consumer, but a lot of what I buy is handmade and local.... I like to think my support of these businesses is a win-win.

  • RandomlyRecycled

    RandomlyRecycled said 8 years ago

    GREAT CONCEPT. Goes along with what my store is about- taking things that I had lying around, items that are from another purchased item, and also stuff that would end up in a landfill. I have such random items but they all go back to upcycled/recycled/handmade creative. Im glad we are all trying to make the world a better place!

  • TexOhVania

    TexOhVania said 8 years ago

    Great idea! I've been getting rid of things-2 whole boxes of stuff today, in fact! I'm sold on the idea! I've hated all the brand name clothing items since I was a kid in school and my parents couldn't afford them. Now I hate them for a totally different reason. How does one expect to be an "original" when they are cloning themselves to look like everyone else? A constant topic in my house with a 13 year old stepdaughter. I love this!

  • misscynthiabell

    misscynthiabell said 8 years ago

    So to fight against rampant consumerism and logos Rob Walker created...yet another logo?

  • WriteTheGoodWrite

    WriteTheGoodWrite said 8 years ago

    I really like this idea. It's a way to add importance and status to re-purposing in a simple way that's easily conveyed. :)

  • NecessiTees

    NecessiTees said 8 years ago

    I've never been much into buying something only because of its brand name.....I don't get the appeal a lot of the time..... hooray.... I may finally be cool:)

  • WriteTheGoodWrite

    WriteTheGoodWrite said 8 years ago

    I'm not a fan of brans either, at least not the ones that initially spring to mind. All the clothing brands I used to love for their high quality (linen, thick cotton, silk, etc) and originality have significantly diminished in both fronts, especially over the last five years. Yet they justify their high prices with larger logos and their generic image of youth, status and beauty. Now that I am not longer a student, and work full time, I enjoy buying high quality and unique items from artisans/crafters both locally and through Etsy. It's a more valuable experience and I know the items I buy will last for decades, not just a year or so.

  • jasonmseger Admin

    jasonmseger said 8 years ago

    The best finds at the thrift store, for me, are the generic, commercial pieces of clothing that you might find on a gas station attendant or mechanic.

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this! What an amazing movement!

  • fibrous

    fibrous said 8 years ago

    Cool idea. Wouldn't it just be like we're participating in his brand though? This sounds like an idea that needs some pondering...

  • missbellahell

    missbellahell said 8 years ago

    What a great idea! I have never seen the interest in purchasing logo-covered items (they're always the cheaper items of the high end brands anyway) and even if I do wear designer it's because of the style, fit, and construction, not the label. That's not really the point here, though - the point is very similar to make do an mend, which is a very excellent idea. It would be great to make reuse trendy instead of over consumption.

  • fibrous

    fibrous said 8 years ago

    oh, that sounded negative! I meant I should ponder it more!

  • poppys4cast

    poppys4cast said 8 years ago

    The thing is if propaganda is winning - which it is. It's nice to see such a fresh approach to the issue. Thankfully, Etsy provides me with an entirely authentic work atmosphere, environment, and community that I feel so privileged to be a part of. People have a deep need, especially now, to be authentically connected to their work. Etsy won't make us look at a borage of the same symbol, word or phrase- well at least not past its alloted time in the 'lime'. - Where can I get 'The Uncollection' rubber stamp? ha ha- It's almost as if Etsy is the platform that transforms the massive propaganda machine to be a wee bit more digestible. -Perhaps it's not so much about less stuff as trying to be more mindful of stuff:)

  • poppys4cast

    poppys4cast said 8 years ago

    Actually we never really 'get rid' of anything. We just put it somewhere else. Learning how to trade our stuff around definitely seems to be a step...

  • PaperManStudio

    PaperManStudio said 8 years ago

    I have always despised the idea of paying some company for the privilege of advertising for them (i.e., branded merchandise). But it's getting harder and harder to find unbranded clothing, especially for men. The sweater I have on right now has a tiny logo on it, but, mercifully, it's embroidered in the same color thread as the sweater and is barely visible. Also, I believe the thrift store is one of the best ideas ever-- no longer needed or wanted clothing gets a second life and is "new" to the buyer. My grandma always said: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

  • ambika

    ambika said 8 years ago

    As someone who hates logos and has been buying thrift/vintage items for years, I'm glad to see this get a name. Off to visit the links...

  • RitaVanTassel

    RitaVanTassel said 8 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant - I'll be using this in my classrooms for sure. Thanks!!!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 8 years ago

    Intriguing idea. Does this mean that all the many sellers here on Etsy who make items from recycled materials can use the same brand (or should I call it an unbrand?) to somehow join together to help spread the message? So every individual involved in recycling/reusing can be part of a huge mutually helpful type of co-operative, branding thier items the same even though they're produced individually? And if so, what does that mean for each artist's individual style? It certainly does need pondering...

  • saltcityspice

    saltcityspice said 8 years ago

    Very interesting. It's possible to eliminate some of the common consumerist traps of a "throw-away" society by repurposing what we already have, which in turn can help responsible businesses thrive. Using a logo/symbol to get this idea across is an innovative way to help spread the word. Great topic, Chappell!

  • SewMuchMoreDecor

    SewMuchMoreDecor said 8 years ago

    I love it, I have never been a fan of brands either and it is so hard to avoid them. Seems like they hide them everywhere. But, branding previously owned items is neat because it adds to the history of that item and reminds us how easily it could have ended up in a landfill.

  • SNoU

    SNoU said 8 years ago

  • DivineSparkle

    DivineSparkle said 8 years ago

    I don't quite understand what he means about it being "the first-ever line of goods consisting entirely of stuff people already owned.” when people on Etsy have been doing that for a long time. That's what my line is too. Maybe he just means he's the first to put a logo on it??? hmmm...

  • craftscene

    craftscene said 8 years ago

    I'm so glad to see so many others who loathe branded items as much as I do ! (I live in a very preppy college town and feel like I am crushed by prominently labeled Polo and abercrombie) Yay for PLAIN !

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer said 8 years ago

    Now I have a name for how I shop! I hate words and ads on shirts.

  • VeiledIntensity

    VeiledIntensity said 8 years ago

    Irony - it's what makes the world INTERESTING!!! I love this idea.

  • 01Powers

    01Powers said 8 years ago

    I own nothing with a logo or a brand, except my work shirts that have MY business name on them, and yes it is possible to purchase clothing without any logos what so ever. do we really need another one? Doesn't re-purposing and re-using go hand in hand with no logos? I say to the unconsumption folks, "Dump the brand, you don't need it." My dad once ask a friend of mine, "Where'd ya get that shirt, some guy named Tommy give it to ya?"

  • RubyBeets

    RubyBeets said 8 years ago

    I agree,a bit of Irony

  • anndorsey

    anndorsey said 8 years ago

    I'm with Divine Sparkle - it's already an Etsy concept and "product" it's also why I shop here!

  • ninetrial

    ninetrial said 8 years ago

    My issue is not so much with the brand on the front, occasionally it's integrated in a subtle or creative manner. Or it's placed to add character (a little asymmetry, anyone?). It's a matter of preference and expression. My issue - my BIG issue is with what I like to call disposa-clothes. These clothes that are such low quality like forever21, and, alas, GAP. I'm the sort of person that gets attached to my swag, so I want it to last. It's what got me started on crafting - figuring out a way to draw some more life out of the things I love.

  • AppealDesignsLLC

    AppealDesignsLLC said 8 years ago

    I had to read this article again, because at first I was confused by the message. But the quote below from the article clarifies: "Walker realized that, for now, branding is the way we add value to our objects. In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em." So this logo would represent items that have been repurposed, to help encourage consumers to buy used items, since logo's are such an important aspect to many American's. And while some of us are internally satisfied with repurposing items, some people need this logo on a repurposed item so they can boast to their friends and house guests what the logo means. I see it for its good and bad qualities alike. But if that is what it takes to keep good items out of the landfill, and food on the table for those that repurpose items for sale, then I guess it is a good concept. And in the words of PaperMan Studio's grandma (above) "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

  • glowfly

    glowfly said 8 years ago

    Read the book "No Logo". Excellent read about how brands have become disembodied from their products and the implications of this. On another note, I've always hated clothes with brands on them. Someone should pay ME to advertise for them. Not the other way around.

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals said 8 years ago

    Love this post! I'm another one who despises the blatant logos on especially mens' clothing! I used to be into Bugle Boy stuff in high school(late '80s) when their products were actually quality- made and real style! The few things I own with a logo on them, the logo is really subtle/ tiny, totally unnoticeable! I sometimes wonder if Harley- Davidson still MAKES their motorcycles now, with the H-D logo/ brand on clothing and other products(like beer, jukeboxes, toiletries, etc.) that are totlay unrelated to the motorcycle and riding experience! Sorry about the ranting, but being one who works with leather everyday, I notice those things easily.

  • LeafLee

    LeafLee said 8 years ago

    I hate labels and never put them on anything I make, though I have been considering it. But why would I want to annoy my customers with something itchy and irritating.

  • markedly

    markedly said 8 years ago

    Thanks for this post. Sometimes I let Etsy be an outlet for my urge to consume, now tamed by my pledge to buy handmade only. But Etsy really is a way to create alternatives to mass consumption. We all will have to cope with that tension until we can unlearn Pavlovian responses to packaging, promotion, and overamped desire for something more every day.

  • missrubysue

    missrubysue said 8 years ago

    Wait a minute: Isn't the logo of the shopping cart turned over a logo itself? We will always be made to feel guilty about something or another: What we eat, what we wear, what we drive, how we vote, gender, color of our skin, how much money we make, how much we don't make, and the list goes on and on. LOgos are symbolic, and we use them every day. There's so much resistance to reality that we ought to design a Logo for that. MIss Ruby Sue

  • ADoseOfAlchemy

    ADoseOfAlchemy said 8 years ago

    I'm inclined to agree with the chorus that's singing, "A logo is a logo is a logo." Odd also to have an 'anti-consumerism' article on a site that is a mega retailer (in behalf of however many zillions of Etsy shops there are).

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 8 years ago

    I will never buy a brand that shows its logo all over it, pay for it and advertise it for them , why ? I go for un marked quality products and they're out there Great article I will share it with many.

  • StarkerImage

    StarkerImage said 8 years ago

    That reminds me, I really need to design a good logo...

  • dailydangerco

    dailydangerco said 8 years ago

    The only logos I've ever had on my clothes are for bands I support, and recently, one from my friends' bar. I've often thought if a company wants me to advertise their brand by turning myself into a walking billboard, they should be paying me, not vice versa. Go, individuality.

  • lindamayk

    lindamayk said 8 years ago

    Hmmmm......very interesting! I have always disliked items that have logos and especially the maker/company logo....always seemed they should be paying us to advertise for them by wearing their items!!

  • tricotaria

    tricotaria said 8 years ago

    Great idea!

  • adamsgifts87

    adamsgifts87 said 8 years ago

    I'm not big on logos either, but I have a lot of friends and family who are (most notably my teenage cousins) and if that's what they like, that's fine. I don't think it's any different from all the people around here who feel a need to wear huge football logos on the front of their shirts. Just because I'd never do it doesn't make it wrong. My problem comes when mass retailers expect me to pay $50 for a shirt that won't last until NEXT football season, just so they can sell me another next year. I'm more likely to make my own school color scarf or hat, that way I can make it tasteful AND durable. And I think the logo's hilarious. I love ironic consumerism. I have been known to even sacrifice quality for irony...

  • sherrie1

    sherrie1 said 8 years ago

    I guess that being larger than average has an advantage I never knew about: I don't have any clothing with logos. None is made in my size.

  • shipwreckdandy

    shipwreckdandy said 8 years ago Featured

    The problem is the quest for 'meaning' and social recognition in the shopping cart unbrand is basically the same behind the actual brands of disdain. It's a meme, full of the requisite irony and 'clever' factor that has become the meaning. Is it not clever enough to just go to the thriftstore and score some dinnerware? No, not in the age of commentary. It doesn't seem to count unless you make it known.

  • eolseiwear

    eolseiwear said 8 years ago

    I really love the idea. I try, in my own small way, to use as much recycled and natural materials as possible to create quality durable items and I believe it is time more and more people stop purchasing the very low quality items out there just for the logo. I wouldn't actually mind that much about the logo if it weren't that you end up paying ridiculously high prices for (in my opinion) ugly looking things that are not even designed and meant to last!

  • whitehaus

    whitehaus said 8 years ago

    I love this! I have BIG issue with branded items and have been trying to turn this into an opportunity to get extra creative in my upcycling. Instead of shying away from useful thrift store items with ginormous logos on them, I've been been working conceal it while at the same time making it more beautiful than it was. Below is my favorite results from this... http://wecanredoit.blogspot.com/2011/05/making-my-new-spring-tote.html Congratulation, Rob! Really fantastic:)

  • BLCouture

    BLCouture said 8 years ago

    We make a lot of our own clothes - andwe recycle old clothing to give it new life. Yard sales are our favorite pasttime. We also love hand me downs - especially from Grandma - She had the coolest clothes.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 8 years ago

    recycle, reuse, repurpose.... this is so important for a green future!

  • EllipsisBooksandMore

    EllipsisBooksandMore said 8 years ago

    Cool! I love the idea.

  • HeirloomOrphanage

    HeirloomOrphanage said 8 years ago

    This reminds me of my favorite "Dharma & Greg" TV episode where Dharma opens a store that sells nothing. People come, hang out, and buy nothing because nothing is for sale.

  • junquegypsy

    junquegypsy said 8 years ago

    Ha! My husband has a friend that even back 25 years ago, painstakingly removed any and all logos from shirts (yep, that little tiny alligator). jeans (the leather levis tag), and hats. He may have even pulled the metal auto company names off his vehicles.

  • sistersilver

    sistersilver said 8 years ago

    A universal sign letting folks know something is repurposed...Nothing wrong with that idea. Spread the word!

  • oldsnapshot

    oldsnapshot said 8 years ago

    My feelings are a mix between the comments from- ADoseoOfAlchmey, sistersilver, and starkerimage.

  • AntoinettesWhims

    AntoinettesWhims said 8 years ago

    I don't really get the point. But then I was brought up pretty frugally and learned not to be wasteful very early on and the logo never impressed me much unless real quality went with it.

  • kristin1389

    kristin1389 said 8 years ago

    Couldn't agree more!

  • catalystbags

    catalystbags said 8 years ago

    Isn't the "unbranding" a brand in itself? Aren't we all feeling just a little "we are too cool" about this? Does a movement need to be branded to be a movement? Devil\s advocate I know, but just thriwing it out there. And by the way, I make my items from all upcycled fabrics. Talk about unbranding without stating the obvious.

  • jjd85262

    jjd85262 said 8 years ago Featured

    Why not just redecorate the existing logos. I have a "T" shirt from Microsoft and I added "Broken Windows". Anything from Apple I add "Rotten". Many times I will put a circle or heart with a line across (as in "I do not love it"). I have fun with it. Companies clearly do not like what I do. If they insist I wear their logo then I also insist on my expression. Besides, an inverted shopping cart is just as bad as any other logo (I guess it helps those who cannot think clearly).

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    Interesting!

  • marcgounard

    marcgounard said 8 years ago

    One of the best is a very large BUM on both side of your T shirt... I guess some kind of clothing companies making the stupid peoples advertise their stupid name... I did have a black baseball cap with nothing on it and so often people will comment who cool it was!!!...we live in logo world, just a way to define yourself from the others.

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 8 years ago

    I love the logo!

  • sarahknight

    sarahknight said 8 years ago

    Someone might think they coined the phrase "unconsumption" in 2006, but Marcel Duchamp beat everyone to the punch with the fountain. The point of slapping this 'non-label label' on already existing things seems... pointless or at the very best redundant. It seems like it falls into a pathological trap of simply feeling the need to define or label things that could simply exist and function without the put-upon complication of "brand" identification. But then, I don't obsess on brands or the lack thereof, which is perhaps why I have a closet full of clothing where the label is also the tag - which no one sees since it's sewn on the inside...

  • mynamehere

    mynamehere said 8 years ago

    Growing up, my dad was always trying to emphasize to my sisters and I that we did not have to wear 'brands'. To this day, I am uncomfortable buying things with obvious logos because I feel that I am paying someone to advertise for them.

  • BeadCoNet

    BeadCoNet said 8 years ago

    Interesting.

  • AzaferraJewelry

    AzaferraJewelry said 8 years ago

    @Catalystbags, I'm with you 100%. This was done in my family,without a second thought. About being too cool, each generation thinks its the coolest ever! I totally did not believe my mom when she said they wore platform shoes back in the 40's!!! So, I guess when something is new to us personally, we tend to think its the newest,smartest thing ever. My motto is "nothing new under the sun" (except for maybe Smartphones, lol!)

  • MSprinter

    MSprinter said 8 years ago

    You cannot unconsume. You can only decide to consume or not to consume. Buying the unconsume brand is consuming a brand like any other. Branding is such a big thing because it is the only way to make people buy things they do not need at much too high prices.

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 8 years ago

    I still don't like labels on clothes. I prefer to buy clothes that don't have logos. I like clothes based on if they look fine on me and not whether its the IT thing. It's always a good idea to repurpose things that we have. There's no need to buy new things unless we really need to.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 8 years ago

    Interesting idea, I agree with MSprinter a little though, while trying to get rid of branding they've unintentionally created a brand anyway. I tend to actively avoid branded clothes, I think it actually cheapens the garment your buying but then I prefer simple plainer clothes.

  • niftyknits

    niftyknits said 8 years ago

    I don't like big logos, but I also don't understand how sticking a new logo on crockery is "repurposing" it. Surely the plates have always had the same purpose, and continue to have the same purpose - they're for putting food on, and would have continued doing so without a new logo.

  • LaughLand

    LaughLand said 8 years ago

    I have a shop/brand name that I hope helps to add a theme to the handmade items that I make and sell. It allows me to be recognised. I also have a tag that is sewn inside my items where it can't be seen. I really, really dislike brand labels that can be seen, I think it is bad manners or trying to show off. Many etsy sellers have visible labels and brand names. Some spend a lot of money on embroidered labels. I have always wondered why. It seems to promote a name as important, not the quality or uniqueness of the item.

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign said 8 years ago

    Cool!

  • thekingisenglish

    thekingisenglish said 8 years ago

    This is such a great idea, I'll be doing some embroidery pretty soon!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 8 years ago

    Food for thought in a well written article thank you~ my hubby and your dad are from the same mold in regards to logo's on clothing yet now we should brand what we make by hand as our own. hmmm

  • sevenvsxiao

    sevenvsxiao said 8 years ago

    I love the logo!

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 8 years ago

    Nice idea, not sure the design of the logo works - I had to read your description to understand what it is supposed to represent...but maybe that's just me...

  • meringuedesigns

    meringuedesigns said 8 years ago

    Like your dad I have always refused to wear anything with a logo claiming that company doesn't get free advertising on my body. (actually I pay them to advertise!)

  • kathrynbowmanstudio

    kathrynbowmanstudio said 8 years ago

    I'm old enough to remember when all of this logo craziness started (well maybe it's been going on longer) in the 70s. At the time I said, "If there is going to be a logo on what I wear it will be mine." To this day, I refuse to have visible words on the clothing I wear. I am not going to be a billboard. So I hear where you are coming from and feel branding is important, but can be done in a subtle way without making it the design feature.

  • mamalester

    mamalester said 8 years ago

    I'm not sure when brands and logos turned into status statements. Maybe when we forgot who we are. Anyway, as a designer of products I want my customers to know the source of their item so they, or a friend, can get more. That's how one stays in business. At the same time I've been in a quandry because I see how turning into consumers is a real problem for our planet/home. We tend to go to extremes it seems, and we certainly have in consuming. To begin to see the error of our ways and bring a little sanity to our consuming I love the idea of a brand/logo for repurposed products. It's kind of like methadone in the treatment of heroine addicition. It's a step down from the hard drug rather than going "cold-turkey". You can still have your logo but you've entered the sustainable world at the same time. I've had a line of redesigned jewelry, "Twice is Nice", using new materials mixed with vintage that I haven't listed on Etsy because I wasn't sure how to do it. Now I know how and it's so obvious that Etsy is the perfect place for the line too. I need to get to work listing!

  • sushipie

    sushipie said 8 years ago Featured

    Yes, the unbrand is a brand in and of itself. That is the point. It's using well known marketing tools (logos) to promote the reuse of goods. If you are anti logo then this idea is probably not for you. A logo is not a bad thing in principle, however the concept has been commercialized.

  • rockfabricscissors

    rockfabricscissors said 8 years ago

    <------------ upcycled dress, not yet "unconsumed"

  • DoggieRoo

    DoggieRoo said 8 years ago

    If you have ever shopped at the Goodwill Bins, it's the last chance to buy it by the pound, you will be amazed at how many items are just tossed way. Perfectly good items that need to go some where. Where, is really the question. If we all went through our homes and tossed out everything we haven't used in months it would only add to the already huge amount of waste we all have "Consumed". The irony is "They" made us "Consumers".....The idea of "Uncomsme" is power to the people to be creative and not Branded! Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

  • thornblossom

    thornblossom said 8 years ago Featured

    This, to me, isn't about congratulating ourselves for not being taken in by branding. It's about adding value to the *concept* of re-use for those that wouldn't do it otherwise and giving that practice a high-end feel. Anything that moves people away from the disposable, big box store way of life is a step in the right direction. Maybe not revolutionary, but a beginning.

  • TheLittleRagamuffin

    TheLittleRagamuffin said 8 years ago Featured

    I started to think of brands differently the day I was out to lunch with a few friends as well as their aunt who was a well established member of the NYC artist community. I was wearing a Polo sweater (that I had recently picked up from the Salvation Army for $2.99). The aunt pointed to the Polo logo on my top and said "Oh! I painted that," almost as if she were surprised to see it on my sweater. She went on to tell the story of the elaborate painting she once made of a Polo player and how Ralph Lauren fell so in love with it that he asked her if it could be his logo. It made me realize that there still are real people and real artists behind such ubiquitous brand identities.

  • BlueMoonLights

    BlueMoonLights said 8 years ago

    Great idea!

  • somethinspecial

    somethinspecial said 8 years ago

    Very interesting idea...

  • rooftopmelodies

    rooftopmelodies said 8 years ago

    I don't get it... So you buy something with a logo then cover it up with a patch of the unlogo? Or you take things that you already have, like the plates pictured above, and add the unlogo to them, but you keep them and just have "unlogoed" logos? Or do you sell them as unlogoed and re-branded?

  • mell42

    mell42 said 8 years ago

    Why would I pay to be a billboard? Unless it is a cause or business I truly value, I refuse to purchase or display a visible logo. I really do not understand why I should pay to advertise someone else's product. Also, this is a brilliant idea! I would definitely feel good about displaying a logo which lets everyone know it was re-purposed!

  • AntoinettesWhims

    AntoinettesWhims said 8 years ago

    I read this last night and didn't get the point in the wee hours of the morning. Now I fully understand...the whole concept is built on a lie. As the article states, "Walker went to Clifton Burt, who designed the Unconsumption logo; the over-turned shopping cart, almost anthropomorphized through it’s wheel-eyes, is the logo of The Uncollection, or as Walkers puts it, “the first-ever line of goods consisting entirely of stuff people already owned.” The lie is that this is the first ever line of goods consisting of stuff people already owned. How do I know this is a lie? I've shopped at Antique, vintage, second hand, thrift shops, tag sales, flea markets all my life and my entire house ,with very few exceptions, is filled with stuff that was already owned by someone else. This simply put is a marketing plan like any other with the exception that no goods are being made, no one is being employed. The name of Rob Walkers book "Buying In..." aptly fits. It fact is is a stroke of marketing genius to get you to buy his book and add HIS BRAND to your stuff. Feel free to buy into this if you wish, as for me ~ Bah!

  • CanadianWarmthAndLov

    CanadianWarmthAndLov said 8 years ago

    Perhaps the older (and wiser?) I get, the more I want my clothes to represent me...not some brand. I repurpose ALL the time and would love to start adding the logo to my stuff :) Great idea.

  • RedFernVintage

    RedFernVintage said 8 years ago

    This is why I love selling vintage, no labels and quality goods.

  • Thulu

    Thulu said 8 years ago

    All T-shirts from Threadless have logos only on the inside tag, same with american apparel.

  • oddnia

    oddnia said 8 years ago

    I'm a bit torn. On one hand I like the IDEA of a brand. The logo tells me something about the product, about its quality, and the company's philosophy. I mostly shop vintage so I don't buy into the notion that I must wear a label to be cool, or to project wealth (which lets face it...many brands are all about, projecting wealth). Who in their right mind needs to carry a $10,000 handbag, a Birkin bag? Heck for that kind of money, I would hope it comes with wheels and that I could drive it down the road! But to each his/her own. If one must carry or wear an item that projects wealth, then the logo says something about them...that a fool and their money are soon parted. So here I sit, torn. I see the usefulness of a logo and that a label like all labels, is divisive like the lables people apply to both themselves and others. Cheers, ANNiE

  • sweetpetunias

    sweetpetunias said 8 years ago

    Personally I would be extremely sad to come across the perfect thrift store find, just to see that it has been branded with this 'un-brand'. Especially in the case of the pretty dishes that now have an ugly blob right in the middle of them. I thrift to find quality pieces that i can't (or won't) justify buying new; not to brag about my eco-conscious lifestyle. I think shipwreckdandy got it right when they said it's because we live in "the age of commentary. It doesn't seem to count unless you make it known". Silly, just silly.

  • apieceofheaven

    apieceofheaven said 8 years ago

    For those who wants "logoless" products, check out MUJI. Only size labels are sewn on. Minimal packaging. Love the no frill concept of the brand.

  • relicavintage

    relicavintage said 8 years ago

    Yes. Yes, Yes, I have been doing this my whole life with my art and my thrifting. I appreciate your great thinking and action on this subject. A lot of buying comes from our disconnected ness, that our value is shown in these products. Trying to find happyness outside of our selves. We must love ourselves then we can love our earth and its inhabitants. “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ― Eckhart Tolle

  • jadewolf06

    jadewolf06 said 8 years ago

    I like to buy the logos that I like. Then otherwise I will buy from store like Kohls where nothing is branded or American Apparel which I love for their unbraning mission.

  • calitatum

    calitatum said 8 years ago

    It is just fun. I like not over thinking everything. Just put a smile on your face. : )

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 8 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • Tidepools

    Tidepools said 8 years ago

    I sent this article to my husband and I loved his response so I thought I'd share it. He responded: i have felt this way for so long.. sometimes you look in the mirror and all you want to see is you wearling the colors you like...to much to ask i guess. great article. people call this genius i call it common sense. glad your not a label whore.

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals said 8 years ago

    The only labels/ logos I wear are ones representing organizations I support, favorite bands or music festivals, events, etc. I attended. As for "branding" my handmade items, I sew a small label inside them, and the design/ quality of my hats is its "brand identity"! I really have to work to find logoless clothing in stores, but can tolerate very small, or same- color- as- the garment ones. They aren't noticeable from twenty feet away LOL!

  • magicjelly

    magicjelly said 8 years ago

    Isn't this an ecommerce site? Where consumption is supposed to be encouraged on behalf of Etsy's customers that the blog is supposed to market & represent?

  • GoddessEngraving

    GoddessEngraving said 8 years ago

    There are so many Brand items out there with ridiculous prices. I never understood paying so much for those things "everyone has" when for ,usually, less you could have that one of a kind that no one else has. Thoousands of women pay untold thousands to all have the same handbag. Dare to be different, and when someone asks where you got it, you just smile and tell them its the only one.

  • Dexine

    Dexine said 8 years ago

    Interesting concept, but it feels a bit muddy... reject branding by making a brand is an odd way to go about it, but it has a valid point to make that hopefully resonates. Branding is something you find with higher end retailers where the brand is what you are buying and paying more for (as was pointed out in the post). If you don't want to buy a brand, try buying a walmart polo... no brand emblazoned there, no one would wear it if there was one. So your choice is to pay more for a brand or pay less for mass big box consumption... not sure which is better. :-/

  • AntoinettesWhims

    AntoinettesWhims said 8 years ago

    Etsy ~ You send us confusing messages. Are you promoting commerce or not? http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/almost-internet-famous-building-your-brand/ We are told to join Facebook to promote our brand, join twitter to promote our brand and now we are being told to un-brand by putting someone else's brand on items. Huh? Is Etsy for or against the seller here? Seems to me like you are asking folks to not buy anything but ideas.

  • robertcoffin

    robertcoffin said 8 years ago

    I agree with your dad, but I don't have all the mumbo jumbo behind it. Only simply because I think its more pleasing to the eyes not to have a brand glaring at you.

  • PruAtelier

    PruAtelier said 8 years ago

    I's funny how garment maufacturers have over the past years parlayed an innocuous means of branding their merchandise from a discrete label in the neck or other inner seam of the garment merely for the customer's reference - I would assume one reason being for brand loyalty - to now where the "luxury" brands tag the person wearing it so they can feel as someone who has "arrived" and the added connotation being that "lesser mortals" just cannot afford it! When we see the "basement" brands doing the same thing, it's time to turn off the labels and go for the quality and character of the item!

  • FlowerThyme

    FlowerThyme said 8 years ago

    I love the unconsumption idea -- its something I've been struggling with for years. And its WHY I will spend a week looking for an item on Craigslist or Freecycle despite the fact that going to Walmart and paying $5 would solve my "need". However, I'm a bit confused here about what unbranding has to do with consumption (or uncomsumption). Just because you buy something that's not branded (or is branded in such a way that you don't notice so you're not a walking ad) doesn't mean your not consuming. A cooperative brand like Unconsumption is an awesome idea (fantastic!) -- encouraging consumers to think a little bit before blindly going where corporations are pointing. Do you really need to buy a tape dispenser, for example, when we all KNOW there are people out there ready to give theirs away? To me unconsumption about making smarter purchases -- ones that have value and will last and support the producers/makers/small business owners.

  • stevenwilson

    stevenwilson said 8 years ago

    I don't personally have a problem with logos as long as they represent something more than a design idea. In the case of Ralph Lauren Polos, I used to zealously avoid them because I thought they were simply a justification for overcharging for a polo shirt. Years (okay, decades) later, I found myself in a Polo store and picked up one of the shirts and it was obviously of superior quality to all the other polo shirts I had worn and now they're all I wear. For a while, he started putting the logo on the front hem of the shirts but this just caused people to wear them untucked. Evidently, this was an unappealing look for the powers that be and they discontinued the practice and went back to putting them on the left chest. As you no doubt know, the left chest is the traditional location for logos (or blazons as they were called) and their purpose was to make a person easily identified as a friend or foe in battle. Even today, we judge a person by the brands they display. For me personally, if I see more than one label on one person, I know they're not a friend and that a conversation- if one occurs at all- will be short-lived. If you want a polo shirt without a logo at all, there are myriad options. Many of which offer high-quality alternatives to Polo. In my experience though, none match the quality of Ralph Lauren. In the case of Polo shirts, the logo makes it easy to recognize that the shirt will have the quality you've come to expect from the product- assuming it's authentic, of course. The unconsumption idea falls quite nicely into this category. It's not simply branding an unbranded item, it's marking it as being repurposed. Repurposing is meaningful and important for those who want to do more than just talk about improving our environment. Identifying objects as such makes it easier for others to understand what you've done.

  • reflectedfire

    reflectedfire said 8 years ago

    As a someone who designed clothing for what were referred to as the disckeys (JCP down to KMart) I have been involved in building brands and now am thinking about how I build my glass and fiber work into brands. It always starts with the creative process. I would not buy any item for the visual brand (alligators, polo players etc) but for the design or quality that it represented. Funny how many people either covet or abhor wearing the the logo on the outside.

  • melsumn1

    melsumn1 said 8 years ago

    I have shopped in name Stores and have bought a brand of some short or another from Macy's to K-Mart and second hand outlets. But when you have to make your own alterations or repairs...is it that brand any longer??? Brands don't always mark quality and they can help you not make the same mistake. The Brand is a Reference and not the item. Its always wonderful to Recreate and reuse any item when ever you can.

  • ToosDetectiveAgency

    ToosDetectiveAgency said 8 years ago

    For me, unbranding and unconsuming are two different things. I've been unbranding for a while, either by purchasing items without showy logos (my dad always called this advertising, and it finally sunk in about a decade ago), or altering the logo in some way. I've been trying to unconsume more lately, which means really thinking about what I need vs. what I want. Sometimes, that even affects my purchase of local, handmade items. When I find something (a cute barrette, dog sweater, cardigan, whatever), I ask myself, do I need that, or are the other three (or six, or 15) I already have good enough.

  • davita

    davita said 8 years ago

    Proud to say that I've never owned a piece of clothing with a brand name or logo. However, I do have apple electronics so that's as far as it goes. I guess you give up what you are willing to. That's how every exercise in capitalistic sacrafice ends, I think.

  • mimsytoo

    mimsytoo said 8 years ago

    Branded...unbranded...I feel a headache coming on... :)

  • necessitys

    necessitys said 8 years ago

    I just don't see the problem with branding. It helps to simplify when you do need to purchase an item. All brands have certain measures they have identified as a means for consumers to measure them against. When the brand fails to meet these measurements the brand will lose value and customers. Everyone has a different idea of what they find tasteful. For me, I don't like to wear an item that advertises the brand, but if someone else does, good for them. The issue over consumption escapes me as well. Some folks buy too much, eat too much, gossip too much, the list could go on and on. One issue I have with this is how some major news programs will discuss how awful it is that Americans have grown to be such over consumers and then they regularly have guests on who are hawking their latest book. I do believe that simple is better. Still, since Walden, some people are more inclined to achieve a simple life, preferring little and finding happiness in this way of life. For others, maybe a brand helps them simplify one aspect of their life as a consumer.

  • sparrowsalvage

    sparrowsalvage said 8 years ago

    I'm confused- this is a market place venue. Where you come to sell things or buy things. It requires the participant to have an active interest in consumption. even then ToU's state what we sell has to be 'a thing'. And there's always a link somewhere to an article encouraging us to 'build our brand'. It's nice to take a look at one's consumerism habits and of course realise the placement of brands- I don't have a single thing in my wardrobe with a visible brand on it, I never understood it. But in order for people to sell things that are not essential to daily life (ie jewelry, notebooks, toys etc) they're going to have to convince their buyer they need it, and that's done through branding. Branding isn't evil, it's just a marketing tool. Oh- and yes getting rid of stuff feels just as good, if not better than getting it. As a hobbist antiques dealer I love selling as much as I love buying, and there's nothing to shake the dust from your bones like filling a box and donating it to the thrift. De-cluttering can become an addiction!

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch said 8 years ago

    All a person needs to do is walk into a thrift store to realize there's already enough junk in the world--for now, at least--and there's no reason to buy more, new, until more of what has already been produced has been used up. If a purchase is necessary, used or upcycled makes the most sense. Yet, I'm on an environmental stewardship committee at my church, and when I suggested--gasp!--that for the recycling bins we plan to get for each classroom and office, we ask congregants to bring in small wastebaskets they have at home but no longer need, the other committee members just about flipped. Perhaps if we put this logo onto them, it would help. It's even hard to get through the minds of people who care about the environment that buying new isn't the only way.

  • GreatWhiteVintage

    GreatWhiteVintage said 8 years ago

    I don't wear clothing with logos/brand names across the front plainly because it looks dumb (unless it is like a retro/vintage brand). It is annoying to go into a store that sells cool clothing, except for the huge name across the front. When will companies realize that they are ruining their products?

  • Etivestyle

    Etivestyle said 8 years ago

    I shop in charity shops because I'm on a limited budget and also I love finding items that I like. Never have been into wearing logo's in fact I think they are rather crass. But the Unconsume logo is just another way of conspicuous branding. Making one feel part of a group and quite frankly defacing some rather nice china.

  • cmix

    cmix said 8 years ago

    As the wife of a graphic designer I believe that logos are very important. They help identify good quality products from their lesser counter parts.

  • HauteButton

    HauteButton said 8 years ago

    My interpretation of this is not to "brand" NEW products with the UNCONSUMPTION logo, but rather to brand re-used, recycled, re-purposed, and even vintage items with this brand so that those who buy them understand that they are part of an effort not to buy into the "buy it new" mentality. As we all know and practice every day, by buying these types of goods to fill our needs, we keep ourselves from buying NEWLY MADE (and probably junkier) stuff. It's genius if you ask me, because it is a constant reminder (via the logo) that whomever buys the UNCONSUMPTION article has done a little bit of good in the world by NOT buying something NEW. And WHY do we need the UNCONSUMPTION label at all? Because it will get the conversation going when someone sees it and asks, what's THAT logo in the middle of your dinner plate...it now becomes a platform to talk about the concept. see? Pure genius!

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