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Crucial Update

Why Do Fashion Brands Suddenly All Have Ampersands?

After a while, they sound like an algorithm. So we made one!

Photo: Epsicons/Shutterstock

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"Hey, have you heard of this brand? They’re new, and they make, like, elevated basics you can wear to work, and also after work. Their founder is really pretty; I follow her on Instagram. I think she used to model or something. Anyway, it’s all between $100 and $400, so it’s like, high-quality, but still at that relatively affordable price point. Do you know them?"

"What’s the name of it?" you ask, as if you didn’t already know.

The answer, of course, involves an ampersand, and it doesn’t really matter what words are on either side of it. They might be first names, last names, nicknames, plant names, city names, animal names, rock names, or names entirely devoid of meaning. A store could literally call itself Honk & Fart and somebody would walk in expecting minimalist T-shirts. All that matters is the tiny, adorable little ampersand that connect them.

Here is an abbreviated list of fashion and fashion-adjacent brands who adhere to this formula, in no particular order:

Lou & Grey, Me & You, Stella & Bow, Me & Ro, Bec & Bridge, Kit & Ace, Zulu & Zephyr, Track & Bliss, Skye & Staghorn, Sam & Lavi, Pacific & Driftwood, Otis & Maclain, Riller & Fount, Queen & Pawn, Mara & Mine, Leo & Sage, Line & Dot, Stella & Dot, Kopper & Zink, Craft & Commerce, Wit & Wisdom, Willow & Clay, Rag & Bone, H&M, Hill & Friends, Paul & Joe, Original & Mineral, Sheriff & Cherry, Smith & Cult, Larsson & Jennings, Larkspur & Hawk, Sarah & Sebastian, D.S. & Durga, Dolce & Gabbana, Estelle & Thild, Needle & Thread, Bell & Ross, Ca & Lou, Côte & Ciel, Cutler & Gross, Dimissianos & Miller, Frank & Eileen, Frency & Mercury, Gilda & Pearl, Ginger & Smart, Ines & Marechal, Ivy & Liv, Lost & Found, Lygia & Nanny, Master & Dynamic, Me & Mr. Gentleman, Tammy & Benjamin, Wouters & Hendrix, Zadig & Voltaire, Coop & Spree, Pull & Bear.

Reading this giant block of text is sort of like reading the world’s most boring poem, and also much like what I imagine shopping around for a law firm feels like.

How did we get here, to a place of total ampersand tyranny? Some of these brands, like Dolce & Gabbana or H&M, have been around for decades, but a large percentage are brands of a new breed. They’re often cool and startup-y; their websites are swathed in #tumblrpink; they style their minimally made-up models with their hair tucked into their turtlenecks. See, you get it!

There is nothing inherently wrong with the "abstract word & abstract word = cool, successful fashion brand" algorithm. But after enough time, it starts to feel exactly like that: an algorithm.

So on that note, here is an actual algorithm to help aspiring entrepreneurs come up with a name for their soon-to-be-launched fashion brand. Keep going until you’ve found one that strikes your fancy, but remember that even though there are virtually endless combinations, they are all basically exactly the same!