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Site Roundup: Fashion

A diverse bunch of fashion related sites have been steadily passing through our feedreaders of late (some have even come in via our contact page), and so the time appears to be right for a little overview of the business.

Linda Farrow website

We’ll start by looking at the association between fashion, especially fashion publishing, and the Didone genre of typefaces. The word Didone is a combination of Bodoni and Didot, two styles of typeface that emerged in eighteenth century France and Italy, and chiefly recognisable by straight strokes and an extreme difference in weight between the thick and thin parts of the letters, with virtually no transition between the two. Because the calligraphers or craftsmen who first worked with these styles were attached to the French and Italian courts, they quickly came to be associated with royalty and prestige, an association that has endured, and explains why plenty of fashion houses over the course of the previous century adopted the style or a variation of it.

Didone

Although there was a period at the start of the nineteenth century when the Didone style was the accepted choice for setting books, these days it’s rarely considered functional in this regard — because of those very fine hairline strokes, finding a version that will render well on screen at small sizes is virtually impossible. It works best as a striking headline typeface, and it’s a perennial favorite in that role for many fashion brands.

The Didone tradition has seen plenty of interpretations and revivals, from the faithful (Bauer Bodoni) to the extravagant (Reina, Hera Big) to the inventive (LiebeDoni, Geotica), all of which will in some way invoke or subvert those classical values established in eighteenth century Europe.

Shockoe Demin

So if the mainstream fashion industry is tightly bound up with the Didone tradition, how is typography used by less conventional brands?

Like most aspects of graphic design, typography is an important component in establishing a brand’s values and credentials, and alternative fashion is no different. Much in the same way that photography and modelling draw on ideas that customers associate with from other areas of their life (film and music being the best examples), typography can be used to reinforce those associations.

Mama Feels Good
Shockoe Demin

For example, we’ve featured a jeans label that uses a Clarendon typeface to tap into Old West values and mythology; while t-shirt makers and retailers love the messy, inky effect suggested by hand lettering typefaces like Populaire, which was based on lettering designed for a screen printing workshop.

Wooton Cordwainers
Bree

Typography can also be a powerful tool for communicating its own built in values. We have several examples of hand crafted goods makers (Wooton Cordwainers, Bree Bags) who use bang up date contemporary sans serif fonts like Geogrotesque or Pluto because they evoke technical precision, while not being too digital or clinical in their effect.

Carolina Herrera
Figure Form

And finally, sometimes the typography just needs to do a job in supporting product or concept photography, which for fashion houses and retailers is really the most important thing. The site designs for Carolina Herrera and Figure&Form are both built on functional and understated use of clean, modern sans serif typography; Proxima Nova and Swiss721 respectively.

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