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That’s right folks: A Louis Vuitton condom that only costs $68! (although it’s probably a fake) (photo via boondocksbootleg.com)

Clothing? Of course. Accessories? Sure. Fragrances? Well that’s where the money is. But have some designers gone a little too far slapping their high profile names and logos on things? Do we really live in a world where designer bicycles are the must-have of the season? Let’s take a look at some innocent objects that were perfectly good without a designer name that now we have the uncontrollable urge to purchase thanks to aggressive marketing and brand awareness.

1. Cavalli Exercycle

Roberto Cavalli Stationary Bicycle for Cicolette (photo via racked.com)

In collaboration with the Italian company Cicolette, Roberto Cavalli designed these nifty exercise bikes, complete with jaguar printed accents. For all the sideways glances the normal person might give to a piece of fitness equipment bearing the name of a designer, it does at least look designed. It’s not something pulled from previously established paradigms that had its price jacked up by a label. As The Cut said, “This is how the other half sweats.”

2. Missoni Bicycle

Missoni for Target Collection (photo via tomandlorenzo.com)

I guess designers are taking the “reinventing the wheel” challenge a bit too literally. In their capsule collection for the mass-retailer Target, Missoni applied their signature print to normal items such as dresses, skirts and ties. At the end of the list is a big “huh?” in the form of an honest-to-god Missoni print bicycle. It’s … cool, I guess. It makes me wonder if it would induce seizures to passing pedestrians, though.

3. Marc Jacobs Mini Colored Pencil Set

BookMarc Mini Pencil Set by Marc Jacobs (photo via marcjacobs.com)

It’s back-to-school shopping time, but what are those über-rich little Upper East Side kids to do? Crayola brand colored pencils? How bourgeois. Luckily, Marc Jacobs anticipated the coloring needs for the brand-conscious youth of America, so he put his name on this set of twelve mini colored pencils! It retails for a measly $9 (of course, a set of 64 Mini Crayola Colored Pencils is still only $7.99) but we don’t need to tell anyone. It’s the name that matters.

4. Vera Wang Mattress

Vera Wang by Serta (phot via serta.com)

Considering her aptitude for designing plush, diaphanous, white concoctions for brides, it might not be totally off-the-wall for Vera Wang to design mattresses. Scratch that, it’s still pretty weird. Are they as soft as the many layers of duchesse satin and silk tulle in her wedding gowns? Do the pillowcases come with cathedral-length veils?

5. Ralph Lauren Paint

Ralph Lauren Paint (phot0 via ralphlaurenhome.com)

Seriously? It’s getting harder and harder to take these things seriously. Sure, designers have a sensitivity to color, and may be able to mix perfect pigments given the opportunity, but this brand extension is too transparent. Since it (surprisingly) doesn’t come with a Ralph Lauren logo stencil with which to paint on your accent wall, your dinner party conversation literally has to lead to you namedropping the brand of the paint on your walls. Does anyone really want to be that guy?

6. Burberry Hand Knit Cashmere Hot Water Bottle Cover

Burberry Hand Knit Cashmere Hot Water Bottle Cover (photo via burberry.com)

You know those cold winter nights where you’re alone in bed and your back is aching from shoveling mountains of snow so you fish out your hot water bottle and slip on that cashmere Burberry hot water bottle cozy you spent $225 on to impress nobody but yourself and your pulled muscles? No? Yeah, me neither.

7. Pampers Cruisers Designer Diapers by Cynthia Rowley

Pampers Cruisers Designer Diapers by Cynthia Rowley (photo via amazon.com)

These exist.

8. Alexander McQueen Skull Handle Cane

Skull Handle Cane by Alexander McQueen (photo via alexandermcqueen.com)

No doubt it’s probably the most fashion-y object in the list, but while function isn’t paramount for most fashion, it’s hard to see when the need for a decadent, macabre cane will arise. It’s really only good for their wealthy octogenarian patronage, or if you’re attempting that oh-so-trendy rich dandy goth look.

9. DVF by Diane von Furstenberg Moon Candle

DVF Moon Candle by Diane Von Furstenberg (photo via dvf.com)

Candles are candles, right? Wrong. It’s actually possible for chandlers to pull out all the stops when it comes to their craft. Made in France, with soy wax, containing notes of gardenia, cedar, amber and bergamot (I didn’t know what that last one was, either. Thanks Wikipedia!), all wrapped up in a glass canister with a silkscreened moon. If that’s not worth $55, I don’t know what is.

10. Cavalli Vodka

Roberto Cavalli Vodka (photo via robertocavallivodka.com)

This is just such a parody, not just of branding, but also of the fashion culture in general. More so than any bicycle, candle, paint or diaper, this is a product that’s completely disposable and fails to enhance aesthetic presentation. It’s sole function is to exist as a branded object and nothing else. Well, maybe to get you hammered too. The sad thing is, meaning no disrespect to Signore Cavalli, the only people I could picture drinking this are poseur fashionistas trying to be cool. Anyone else would probably be embarrassed to pass up the Grey Goose for this swill.

Excessive designer duds can be obnoxious, but I suppose this all compromises the notion of art as fashion a bit. We can still appreciate the highs of fashion even if the lows are extreme, but these really separate themselves from the sanctity of the art world. I don’t think even Takashi Murakami would lend his name and designs to a condom.

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Alexander Cavaluzzo

Alexander Cavaluzzo is a Pop Poet, Cultural Critic and Sartorial Scholar. He received his BS in Art History from FIT and his MA in Arts Politics at NYU. His interests focus on the intersection of fashion,...

4 replies on “The Top 10 Objects with Unnecessary Designer Labels”

  1. Unnecessary designer labels?  All designer labels are unnecessary.  Things like this are just another example of a rather long-term trend in consumerism… lifestyle branding.  EVERYTHING must be branded…its about selling an image of how one lives one’s life, not selling a product.

    1. I agree with the concern over mass-consumerism and lifestyle branding, but I question whether all designer labels are unnecessary. To begin with, intellectual property is reserved by attaching a label, which is essentially a necessary legal concern. In the larger sense, I see no reason for a designer not to assign his or her name to their creation. Would we expect van Gogh not to sign his paintings? I think the problem with branding arises when the uniqueness of an object gets so diluted that there’s no point in having a name, such as Marc Jacob’s pencils, or the object is such a clear ploy for money, such as the Cynthia Rowley diapers. While the argument could ensconce a larger concern over whether clothing really needs to be branded or even designed, if we could all just wear uniforms, I think the rise and fall of Soviet sanctions on fashion answers that, as outlined in Djurdja Bartlett’s writing.

  2. “unnecessary designer labels” reminds me of the terrific book Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, in which the main character’s allergy to consumerism and labels is a central feature.

    and the idea of a condom package featuring the Murakami character who ejaculates? Now that’s high concept! (Or is it low?)

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