#CCINDEX: GUESS

#CCIndex is a compendium providing the need-to-knows of the movers and shakers of street culture, regionally and internationally.

Jeans were a staple in American workwear. Up until GUESS established themselves in 1981 and redefined denim. Founded by Maurice and Paul Marciano, they came over to the United States from the south of France in pursuit of the American dream.

Bringing along a European influence, they applied that to American fabric and created one of the most innovative pieces of clothing during that time with their 3-zip Marilyn. Featuring a stone wash and a slimmer fit, it opened the door for denim designs. Bloomingdale’s was the first department store to embrace the brand by ordering two dozen pairs of jeans. They sold out within hours and so they set off on a trailblazing road, set up with successes upon successes. 

While Maurice cultivated an environment of collaboration and maintained an unwavering dedication to quality, it was perhaps Paul’s discerning style and a keen eye for dramatism that secured their place in the history of fashion advertising. Through Paul’s imagery and redefining concepts of “sexy”, “young” and “adventurous”, they became the it brand in American Pop Culture.

Instead of adopting the typical studio design, Paul brought his brother’s jeans, and the models wearing them, outdoors, using grainy black-and-white photography and provocative poses described by Forbes as 

Campaigning this new wave were the “Guess Girls”. An honour that has been shared by Carre Otis, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, and Anna Nicole Smith.

“Catering to teenage cravings for sex, power, attention and self-love … electric not only with sexuality but with an implicit brutality and exhibitionism as well”

But with sudden exponential growth, GUESS experienced growing pains that spiralled the brand into turmoil. Simply, their finances couldn’t keep up with their ambitions. The brand entered the menswear, women’s, children’s, leatherwear and footwear markets with the help of some not so savvy deals. Lawsuits were a common occurrence for GUESS in the early 1990s and while their cash continued to flow in with their jeans going strong, it limited their development. With the turn of the century, it also ushered in a new era for GUESS. They reverted back to the blueprint that got them all the way up into those dizzying heights in the first place. They aimed to recapture their glamorous image with the help of prime Paris Hilton in 2004. And in 2012, they brought back Claudia Schiffer and Ella Von Unwerth for their 30 year anniversary to recreate the same black-and-white photoshoot they did all those years back.

GUESS has long communicated the image of youth, sexy and adventurous. And that still holds true to this day, always committing themselves wholly for the people. Tapping into street culture, GUESS has worked with brands like Chinatown Market, A$AP Rocky, Places+Faces Sean Wotherspoon, DR Romanelli and Asian media & music label, 88 Rising.