Human Comedy in the White Stitches of Maison Margiela


Our greedy appetite for attention

Is it the same in your countries? Some people put stickers of the names of their favorite singers or bands on their cars. I didn’t mean to criticize them at all, but that looks a little funny and reminds me of the time just before the entry of elementary school. As usual in any country, it’s a big event for all the Japanese kids. Parents buy all kinds of stationary, and a lot of textbooks are provided by the government. At this point, kids receive a harsh welcome from a social system. They are required to put their name and class number to all of the items, even to each of pencils.

For the same reason as above, clothing items and bags printed with brand names (in most cases, they’re founding designer names) look funny to me. If someone wears a T-shirt printed with “Issey Miyake” for example, I’ll want to say a joke to him/her like “Miyake-san, you have to write your class number as well.” What’s the point of advertising the name of someone else? Anyway, the point is we humans seem to be quite self-assertive and like to even express what we like, while loudly asserting our privacy rights. Today, my question is whether brand names should be displayed so as to be seen from the outside?

The case of Ittala and New Era

In Japan, there are some disputes over this issue. Let me share famous ones as follows. The first one is “the Ittala sticker dispute.” If you google “Ittala” in Japan, come up many webpages where people debate if they should peel off the Ittala sticker after purchase. That may be simply because the design of the Ittala sticker is too good. Another one is New Era baseball caps. Most of the people seem to leave the sticker on the brim. I always wondered and finally found a plausible reason. There’s a lot of counterfeit in the market. In a sense, the sticker plays the original role of brand logo: a kind of certificate for authenticity.

The case of Maison Margiela

The last one is Maison Margiela, a fashion brand from France. This is the dispute I like best. Probably, the brand doesn’t want to highlight the brand name too much. The brand tag is just tacked only in the four corners of the tag, so that customers can remove it easily after purchase. The four tacking stitches can be seen from the outside. Ironically, most of the Japanese customers seem to leave the tag, and accordingly the brand of Maison Margiela is sometimes called “the four-point tag” in Japan.

You can see especially in the dispute about Maison Margiela how strongly we humans try to show off ourselves. Once, I also thought about showing off our brand tag/plate somewhere in our furniture but soon noticed that would satisfy few people due to our low profile, sadly enough. By the way, while writing this article, I just remember the name-embroidering service for bespoke shirts and suits. Do you think there’s a demand for such a service for dining chair seats, for example?

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Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.