“If you are building a brand from scratch, you’re going to get more reaction from something unexpected and strange,” says Tom Julian in a New York Times piece by David Colman (2/7/13). This is why fewer fashion designers are naming their lines after themselves. Shane Gabier and Chris Peters call their line Creatures of the Wind, for instance. It’s taken from a 1957 Johnny Mathis song, which has since been covered by Nina Simone, David Bowie and Cat Power. “We liked the moody atmosphere, and the way that the song brings up different associations,” says Shane.
Natsuko Kanno’s line is called 4 Corners of a Circle, which apparently is memorable for being hard to remember. Publicist Erica Roseman says nearly everyone — even those who work on the line — mess it up. “It was ’4 Circles in a Square,’ ’4 Corners of a City.’ No one ever got it right.” Other fashion lines carry names such as Tome, the Vessel, Viscera, Wildfox, Shades of Grey and Brood. The game, suggests David, seems to be to attract attention by making people ask “what?” instead of “who?”.
The strange-name trend is not limited to fashion, having shown up in theater troupes (Elevator Repair Company), galleries (Fruit and Flower Deli) and pop groups (Death Cab For Cutie). Jean Godfrey June, the beauty and fashion news director at Lucky, thinks the quirky names can be a mixed blessing. “It goes one way or the other, they charm or they repel … The offbeat name is a way to distinguish yourself and sound mysterious and underground-y. The trade-off is, purposely making yourself sound obscure can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”