Logos and Nostalgia: The Country Road Heritage Sweat
Many references and claims have been made to the levels of nostalgia in society. Peak nostalgia even. Although a quick google shows that one of the most widely circulated articles on peak nostalgia was published in 2016 which may mean we are living in a post-peak nostalgia era. Regardless, one of the ways Australian society seems to be reliving nostalgia is through the Country Road Heritage line of sweats. Not since that Kathmandu jacket has one item seemed to permeate Australian society in such a way.
The jumper itself is a crew neck, deemed unisex, though the colour range offered to women far outweighs that offered to men. The embroidered logo is in a Time New Roman style font which portrays a sense of being classic and also quite straightforward, no cursive here thanks very much. Under the brand name is the phrase ‘est. 1974’, which is old enough for people to remember but still a year before many of the wearers were born. There is nothing old about the brand, but rather a sense of comfort as it was worn by our parent’s generation. Due to this, Country Road carries the legacy of an Australian brand that has loose ties to workwear (though these days it’s more corporate than on a farm), pays attention to the trends, and amongst all of this is situated perfectly in the middle-class* Whilst the jumper is not cheap at $99.95, it is a pleasant and accessible price point for many who can not only buy one for themselves but for every member of their family; including their dogs! It also boasts a verified organic cotton tick, nodding at sustainable practices, an increasing priority for some in recent years.
Owned by Woolworths Holding Limited, the company was established in 1974 and operates in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. As well as having physical stores in pretty much every shopping centre, you can also find it in concession stores in David Jones. More recently they started stocking on mega online retailer The Iconic, a quick browse shows the Heritage range makes up majority of what they offer on there.
Interestingly, the jumper has been ‘dyed to achieve an authentic worn-in look that will only get better after wash and wear’. Is this offered because they (and we) know that we won’t own it long enough to create the worn in look ourselves? Much can be said for jeans that you buy with holes and frayed edges. Many people don’t wear their clothes to the point of them looking worn, partly because the cycle of consumption really doesn’t want you to wait that long but also because many of us don’t actually work or play in the great outdoors as we once did. However, it still alludes to the lifestyle of being outdoors and herein lies the point; we can still present as laid-back Australians even when we are anything but. We may still go outside but it is for brunch. The picket fence is very much still in the picture as we pose in front of it with a coffee, wearing our Country Road jumper of course.
Country Road’s branded merchandise does not stop at jumpers. Another long-standing product is the Heritage Zip Canvas Tote which seems to get seasonal updates depending on the mood of society. Quilting and recycled polyester are both currently available. As mentioned previously, men, kids and dogs all get a look in when it comes to clothing and there is a myriad of options for the home. Branded mugs, cushions, tea towels, canisters, utensil holders and even a spoon rest can all be bought boasting the same coveted logo.
I am not sure why these branded items are becoming so popular and so normal. To the point where you can find certain sold-out colours going for more than their original retail price on eBay. Of course, it is natural for a brand to have a logo, but to have a logo that is literally on every facet of the home, your person and those around you seems a level of identification that is pushing it even for our ‘pics or it didn’t happen generation’.
Also, I have so many questions. Are we expected to wear the clothes, bag and hat all at once? Is everyone in our family expected to wear them at the same time? And should I make sure I have my Country Road mug and pillow on my lap when I do?
Whilst finishing this article, I found out that Country Road have released an updated version on the 90s cut. Nostalgia on nostalgia and more options for endless logos.
* Comedian Tommy Little does a very funny bit about being middle class.
This article was not only inspired by me seeing these jumpers everywhere but a personal favourite, Anne Helen Petersen’s recent newsletter on ‘the nap dress’ . Petersen is a much better writer than me but I was drawn to the mix of commentary and history. I was inspired to push the boundary on a familiar item which seems to have struck a chord with society so I hope you enjoyed it.