Is the World Becoming Over-Monogrammed?

From "LV" to "me, me, me."

Design by Sade Adeyina

On any given day, I can be found with at least three monogrammed items on my person: a Nouvel Heritage ID necklace with "CP" on the front-facing clasp, a Coach cardholder again with "CP" and a triceratops, and a Fossil wallet that spells out "MAD," to represent both the "angry" and "insane" senses of the word. (Add or subtract a Donni Charm double-layer scarf and a Naadam cashmere jumper I now want because I saw it in Emily Weiss' Instagram Story.)

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Like any individual whose personality is a Peter Pan-ish matryoshka doll (composition: small child nested in a grumpy millennial's body), I enjoy conveying ownership and maturity by plastering my name on my belongings. Think Trump, but with small hands leather goods. (The phallic objects will come later.) And it's really easy these days to do it, with brands setting up designated stations, in-person and online, where one can have letters stamped, etched, embroidered, appliquéd, embossed, and otherwise affixed to any purchases they like.

Golden morning light✨✨ ❤@toryburch monogrammed Bag @engelbertstockholm bracelet @ragandbone sweaters

A post shared by Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert (@bat_gio) on

The same people who see selfies as evidence of an increasingly vapid and narcissistic culture—they are not completely wrong—might view the current trend of Monograming: 2 Fast 2 Furious as more of the same. But let us remember that we did not suddenly become individualists—we have always been into ourselves and all the ways we can be seen. (For example, Paleolithic cave painters, their religion barring them from depicting human figures, might have found a workaround by tracing their hands. If that's not an early John Hancock, I don't know what is.) So this movement of decorating oneself like a Ligier race car at the British Grand Prix could be part of an extended shift in fashion: away from the maker, toward the consumer.

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Since the logomania of the early aughts, we have seen a gradual turning-over to the Tomas Maier type of quiet luxury, punctuated by blips of interlocking Cs and overlapping Gs—we have seen the iconography change. The symbol of the creator has shrunken until, in some cases, it's not there at all, and the reins have been handed over to the shopper, like a Prometheus story in which Zeus is like, "Here. Just take this flame to spur the progress of civilization."

This sounds great...until you remember that man primarily employs fire for destruction, the style equivalent of which is some country-clubber slapping his initials on every available surface, from the brim of his visor to the soles of his boat shoes. Why not instead make use of the loads of silly words that fit the standard plus-or-minus-four-character limit? "BUM" is funny. A palindrome beginning with "T," describing a part of the female anatomy or an oscine bird, is even funnier.

But maybe there's an elegant, SFW middle ground: During a recent layover at LAX, I saw an L.L. Bean tote lying at the feet of a patrician-looking couple. On the canvas front, it simply said "ME."

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