The founders of the first Charlotte Russe store were the Lawrence brothers, three entrepreneurs who created Lawrence Merchandising Corp. to manufacture and sell clothing under their brand name. But their business ceased to be a family business when investment firm Saunders Karp & Megrue bought it. After another ownership change, the Charlotte Russe chain went bankrupt and decided to close absolutely all of its outlets. Salvation came in the form of YM Inc., which bought the brand in 2019.
Meaning and History
What is Charlotte Russe?
Charlotte Russe is a brand of clothing, footwear, and accessories stores for women. The first outlet opened in 1975 in Carlsbad, California. Over time, the chain expanded to nearly 50 states, but after it went bankrupt, its reach declined dramatically. It was pulled out of the debt hole by a new owner, YM Inc.
Charlotte Russe isn’t just a dessert of cookies and Bavarian cream to admire outside the bakery window. It’s also a chain of stores that sells women’s clothing aimed at customers between the ages of 15 and 30. It has two things in common with the dessert above. First, they share a common name: the brand’s creators wanted it to be associated with something desirable and sweet, which cannot be refused. Secondly, both dessert and Charlotte Russe stores embody the concept of “affordable luxury.” They look upscale, but at the same time, everyone can afford them.
A similar idea is reflected in the logo of the retail chain. On the one hand, it consists of only one inscription, and on the other hand, it has an unusual design, which is expressed in bright pink colors and letters crawling over each other. This combination of the simple and the complex is meant to capture the attention of young customers without scaring them away with too much pomp.
Although the company itself was founded in 1975, the current version of the logo appeared not so long ago. A chain of events preceded its creation. It all started when the fashion retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019, unable to withstand digital competition. At the time, it had a network of five hundred outlets in 49 states. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t find someone to buy it, so it decided to self-liquidate on March 31.
Charlotte Russe sold off leftover merchandise, after which it closed most of its stores and laid off all of its employees. No one expected her to suddenly return in the first half of April with a redesigned pink logo. As it turned out, she managed to find a new owner, YM Inc. “Risen from the ashes,” the company has changed its visual identity and its overall approach to business. It decided to look for new customers on the Internet because that is where its target audience was.
Before joining Advent International, Charlotte Russe used a black lettering logo. Thanks to the handwritten font with thin letters, the wordmark contained the brand name, which looked classy and elegant. The designers imitated calligraphic handwriting but added a few “imperfect” details to make the text unique. In particular, they moved the capital “C” and “R” slightly down, breaking the symmetry, and connected the two lowercase “t” with one horizontal line. There was a barely noticeable dot at the end of the phrase, which also created a certain visual imbalance.
2010 – today
The main symbol of the re-launched brand is the pink phrase “charlotte russe,” which is divided into two lines and looks quite glamorous, reminiscent of the Barbie logo. The name of the chain of stores expresses energy: the letters are arranged chaotically and crawl on top of each other as if they are in motion. There is a strict order in the inscription because both words are aligned on the right edge and geometrically balanced.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The sans serif lowercase font used for the fashion retailer’s name is similar to the Joya Sans Bold published by Wiescher-Design in 2014. The letters partially merge in the logo (like two “tt’s” connected by a common horizontal stroke) or overlap each other. The wordmark is pink because it is a stereotypically feminine color. With it, the designers wanted to show that the brand is intended primarily for girls.