Take a look at these shoes. They are white, patent leather, one- strap mules and, as the bright silver plaque will tell you, they're made by cK, Calvin Klein's diffusion range. These "Suzie" mules (that is their model name) cost pounds 110 and Essex Girls are hot-footing it snap them up.
Pied a Terre has almost sold out in its Bond Street, South Molton Street and Sloane Street branches. According to fashion watchers - and more discerning members of the Romford community - you're looking at the Nineties version of white stilettoes. "cK is so naff," says one reformed Essex girl. "Especially those awful white shoes. There's nothing worse than a massive logo staring you in the face."
To logo or not to logo? Flaunt that label or hide it? Suddenly, the fashion world cannot decide. The current issue of Vogue claims designer logos are in. "It's hot to wear someone else's monogram," it proclaims. "Status dressing is back." Yet there is an increasing voice of dissent among the fashion cognoscenti, which the cleverer designers have spotted.
From Knightsbridge to Bond Street, labels are dying a death. Miuccia Prada is leading the backlash: her signature tin triangle has been ditched in favour of her name discreetly stamped or etched on to accessories. This is partly in response to Hong Kong fakes, but Prada has also seen the future. On Gucci's latest accessories, the famous double-G snaffle has given way to a subliminal print. "And look at the new Chanel collection," says anti-label stylist Angela Stephens. "It's so minimalist. Lagerfeld's moved completely away from all that double-C logo on buttons stuff." Even Nike has honed down its label to a barely visible "swoosh."
The explanation lies in the success of designer diffusion ranges, which through over-zealous advertising and selling, have made their logos too available to be coveted. cK and DKNY, the diffusion ranges from Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, advertise on Adshels from John O'Groats to Land's End. Tommy Hilfiger's invasion of Britain makes the triffids look reticent, you can buy DKNY footwear in high-street chain stores, and cK plugs its perfume on bus tickets. "Even my mum wears the T-shirt," says Julie, a shop assistant at Choice in Essex. And who wants to wear the same clothes as their mum?
With designers heading north to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, there are few places left untouched by the diffusion invasion. Flannels in Manchester has sold out of D&G vests and Armani jeans, and at Wade Smith in Liverpool, 13-year-old customers snap up Patrick Cox's Wannabe loafers, Versace jeans and D&G vests inspired by their logo-wearing heroines, the Spice Girls.
The only answer is to avoid labels altogether. Kira Jolliffe, editor of hot new fashion magazine Cheap Date, advocates thrift-shopping. "Its super-naff now to be into labels. Intelligent dressing is far more attractive." Especially when the label in question is the sartorial equivalent of the Big Mac. Someone tell Calvin.
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