Oi Polloi

Through the Magpie Eye: Fratagonia

Published: Fri May 16 2014

I’ve long been obsessed with the way subcultures appropriate certain brands and clothing to shape them in their own image. The idea of taking something that wasn’t intended for you and offering your own interpretation totally fascinates me. A lot of it is well documented online and if you’ve been reading this blog a while you should be familiar with a few already — LA gangbangers in workwear, ‘Lo-Lifes in Ralph Lauren, the Bones Brigade skating in Nike Air Jordan 1s, plus many, many others.

Typically it’s a case of appropriating brands as a form of aspiration, but ‘Fratagonia’ turns that on its head. The Patagonia name is subject to a surprising number of variations, with takes like ‘Patagucci’ or ‘Pradagonia’ alluding to the designer label quality of their clothing. Fratagonia describes the enormous popularity of the brand on US college campuses. Patagonia jackets and fleeces in particular are staples of campus life — you might call it a modern Ivy Look, but I’d never be so presumptuous.

What interests me most about this is that rather than become defined by the cliché, a lot of the fraternities and sororities have appropriated the Patagonia logo with their own titles. You could argue that active college kids are exactly the target Patagonia customer, but logo appropriation is not the sort of activity you’d expect from these future Captains of Industry™. With that weighty social commentary out of the way, here’s a selection of images.