Indeed, Windsor is truly a pet favorite in the contraband merch world. It has been used several times in drops of Boot Boyz, the sneaky sorta-streetwear brand that turns mid-century academic totems into advanced fashion. Windsor is also literally in the logo for jam, a brand run by the artist and designer Sam jayne. Jayne loves the font because of its quirkiness – it features a ‘hand drawn human element’. He uses it all the time in his other career, as a graphic designer. When he started Jam, using Windsor was a natural decision – he had personality.
Maybe Windsor exploded because of what it does not represent: the refined minimalism of high technology. To signify its forward-looking approach, companies in Silicon Valley have historically looked to Swiss modernism, a responsible design movement from Helvetica, this simpler than simple typeface that you can find both in the New York subway system and the Microsoft logo used from the 1980s through the early 2010s. Windsor, on the other hand, looks hand-drawn and cushy, in direct opposition to the sleek minimalism of Silicon Valley. If using Helvetica is like sitting in an Eames chair, outfitting your group poster in Windsor is like lying on a shag rug wearing nothing but a pair of velvet bell bottoms. Stephen Coles, the editorial director of the San Francisco-based establishment Letterform Archive, call it “The corduroy of the police.”
Coles explained that Windsor, and similar fonts, often emerge in response to minimalism trends that are associated with new technology and waves of modernization. He assesses the cycle every 50 years or so. Windsor was first developed by the Stephenson Blake Foundry in 1905. He came out of Arts & Crafts Movement, originally from England during the rise of industrialization. Art & Crafts designers feared that machine production would destroy craftsmanship. The movement had socialist foundations and valued the ability of the individual to beautify the world and the home. If you look at it correctly, Windsor’s deliberately handcrafted aesthetic seems almost anti-capitalist.
While Windsor was first created in response to fears of overindustrialization, it reappeared in the 1960s and 1970s, alongside concepts such as eating a macrobiotic diet, living in a kibbutz, and general frustration with Man in gray flannel suit-era capitalism. In addition to appearing in the Whole Earth catalog, Windsor has appeared on several record covers and appeared on an iconic pro-Angela Davis premieres poster. It has also obviously been used largely in advertising – perhaps its most infamous use of the past 50 years is title cards for Woody Allen films.
Windsor’s reappearance in recent years makes perfect sense. It has been 50 years since he last saturated the market. Big tech cynicism is at an all time high. A striking number of young Americans identify as socialists.
Ultimately, no one has ownership of a typeface. For each Whole Earth Catalog– style post with Windsor on the cover, there was also a cigarette company using the font. In 2021, there are a lot of pirated t-shirt makers and craft beer companies using Windsor, but it’s used in derivative formats as well. to get you to buy Chobani. We are already heading in the direction where Windsor is so overused that people are starting to get tired of it. You can only have too many good things, if you even want to call it that. Soon it will probably be gone – if only for about fifty years. Windsor has a way of coming back.