Brand Yourself

8:00 AM


            Did you accidentally leave your water bottle sitting at the gym? No problem. It won’t get picked up by the wrong person because it has your initials on it. Monogramming is all the rage—no longer is monogramming only used for handkerchiefs and cufflinks, but more so for everyday products. I even saw a little girl with a monogrammed hair bow the other day!

            According to the dictionary, a monogram is a design consisting of two or more alphabetic letters combined or interlaced, typically one’s initials. The encyclopedia furthers the explanation by stating that monograms were anciently used as a seal, badge, or arms. They were first used on coins, but later on documents. Only the elite—such as princes, dignities, magistrates, and notaries—had and used monogrammed items.


            On into the 20th century, the notion of monogramming being elite remained. Even though it was a more commonly used practice, monograms were only etched or embroidered onto treasured possessions. However, Melinda Dement, owner and operator of Dement Studios, who has been monogramming and embroidering since 1980 and giving educational seminars at Imprinted Sportswear Shows, does not think it is about being elite. She feels it is not about what is getting monogrammed, but more so it is about the technology doing the monogramming. Traditionally speaking, monograms were drawn by extremely skilled artists. Modern technology has standardized lettering, which in turn has made monogramming available to a mass amount of the population.


            A mass amount of people is an understatement when it comes to the popular monogram company, Marley Lilly. Currently their Facebook page has 65,108 likes and their Twitter has 46,723 followers. If it gives you any sense of their popularity, I have updated these numbers more than three times while researching monogramming. After enquiring from the company’s customer service department, I learned that the company has experienced rapid growth. It originally started out in a recent college graduate’s home with a single embroidery machine. Now—four years later—the company is ran by the woman and her husband and they have a large facility with over 25 employees. The products that they now offer range from clothing and jewelry to bags and iPhone covers.
        
            “We have always loved monograms and their sophisticated and preppy southern appeal. Growing up in the South monograms have always been big! We are just happy that the rest of the world has caught on and that the trend continues! Whatever we can do to keep the ladies looking classy!” said Brittany, Marley Lilly employee.


            
            When it comes to Virginia Tech students, monograms are just that! Around campus I have personally seen a number of monograms on a huge variety of products. Clothing as simple as t-shirts are now being monogrammed on the pockets, which is turning the plain grungy shirt into a classy day-wear. I spent time asking multiple girls in my sorority how they felt about monograms, how many monogrammed items they owned, and what the items were.
            
            “They are a cuter way to identify your belongings,” said Heather Fernandez, who owns a monogrammed blanket, luggage set, and multiple hair bows.
            
            “They are classic and have gone in and out of style for many years. They are a fun way of expression,” said Anna Hubbard, owner of monogrammed clothing, luggage, and home décor.
            

            “I enjoy their look. I feel they add a special addition to items, and I like being able to make it more personal,” said Jennifer Attard, whose planner is monogrammed, as well as a few of her pieces of jewelry.
            
            “Personalized stuff is in style. Plus it makes something even more unique to you,” said Dorothy Willis, who claims to own more than 10 monogrammed items.


            
            Aside from personal views, I wanted to get a more reasoned opinion so I asked Catie Stockdale, who is a senior in the apparel program, to explain the apparent trend and popularity of monogramming. “I think that monograms are so popular because it is a very obvious mode of self-expression when we all live in a world where all girls follow the same trends and dress pretty similarly. I think that the ornate designs and combinations of letters are very individualistic and give the person a fun logo that is unique to them, like they are their own brand, their own person. It is a great outlet for identity and self-expression, especially combined with fashion. Plus monograms started becoming popular after Lauren Conrad was seen wearing a gold Jennifer Zeuner monogrammed necklace years ago,” said Stockdale.
            
            However, style is not the only reason to monogram your possessions. Monogramming can also be a very functional practice—especially for kids. No longer do scarves and gloves have to be tossed from the lost-and-found box. Lunch boxes and book bags will not be mixed up anymore. Sorting laundry is being made easier—just look for the initials!


            
            Elizabeth Mayhew, writer for the Seattle Times, contributes the trend to branding and logos. This day and age it is all about promoting yourself. On Facebook users upload all of their pictures, hoping for the most likes and comments. On Twitter users unleash all of their inner feelings. On Instagram users share pictures of exactly what they are doing at the moment. Lastly, on Snap Chat users give their friends an up close and personal view of their face. The world we live in thrives on being the unique individuals that we are. Thus, having monograms is like having our own logos.
            
            Mayhew also believes that modern technology contributes to the easy branding. She believes that the ability to view personalization on the screen before ordering it makes the whole process more pleasurable. There is no more waiting for your shipment to come in with your fingers crossed that it all looks the way you intended.
            
            So what are you waiting for? Monogramming has been made fast and easy by our generation. Join the trend, and brand yourself. 

Written By Cait W
Cait is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, where she majored in Communication and minored in Popular Culture. Within her major, she specialized in electronic and print journalism. During her time at Tech she was a charter member of Gamma Phi Beta and served on the executive council. She is currently residing in her hometown of Halifax, Virginia. Cait is working for her family business, while continuing her job search.

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26 comments

  1. I just graduated with a minor in Material Culture (which I imagine is very similar to Cait's Popular Culture minor!) and I wish I had come up with the idea to chronicle the history of monogramming and its resurgence in the present day! It would be really cool to explore the birth of monograms to how they were used and then bring in the modern take on monograms :) Loved this post!

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