Learn about the history of Guess

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When digging through the history of Guess, everything the American company has been through gave birth to its iconic status.

Guess primarily markets clothing and but also deals in fashion accessories such as jewellery and watches. The highly influential household name we know as Guess has come a long way from its roots as a small denim company.

The company was founded in 1981 by four brothers Georges, Armand, Paul, and Maurice Marciano who were all born in Morocco but grew up in the south of France.

It was the regions culture and style that gave inspiration to the brothers to create one of the most successful fashion brands. Guess had its beginnings producing jeans after receiving the money from the Nakash family (owners of the Jordache denim empire) to start this business.

At first, department stores were reluctant to stock Guess’ first production, a three-zipper style of jeans they named “Marilyn”, but the brothers remained persistent and as a result, Bloodmingdales decided to stock two dozen pairs of jeans as a favour to the brothers which sold out within hours.

One year later Guess would start their advertising campaign and what was to follow was the growth of an fashion empire which had its fair share of controversy and success.

Learn about the history of Guess

Advertising and Models

Guess is well known for their sexual advertising campaigns which in the past has featured black and white photographs of fashion models and actresses.

In the year of 1985, Guess introduced their iconic black and white adverts which won several ‘Clio Awards’ (creative excellence in advertising and design).

Guess gained even more publicity when Marty McFly played by Michael J Fox wore distinctive denim clothing by Guess in the film ‘Back to the Future’. It was rumoured that the clothing was specially designed for the movie.

Guess Models
The company used fashion models and actresses in their iconic advertising campaigns. Many of Guess’ models first gained popularity and celebrity status through their work with the company.

In the history of Guess, their models have included many popular names such as Drew Barrymore, Naomi Campbell, Adriana Lima, Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith.

Controversy and Critism

Guess has had quite a bit on controversy in the past which tarnished the company’s image. In the past, Guess has been criticized by celebrities and human rights activists because of the company’s use of cheap labour. Guess’ controversial cases included the following:

  • During the late 80′s, the awareness of sweatshop use among large corporations grew and Guess was promptly marked as a major offender within this field.
  • Due to the failure of paying their employees the minimum wage or sufficient overtime in 1992, Guess was forced to pay back $573,000 in back wages to employees instead of facing a court case.Four years later the same incident occured, due to this eight workers were given their jobs back with $80,000 in back wages after being illegally fired.
  • In 2005, Guess had to pull back a line of their t-shirts after a boycott of the company was called by Stanford University Colombian residents. This was because of the design on the t-shirt read “Ski Colombia: Always Plenty of Fresh Powder” in reference to the country’s drug problem.

Despite all the controversy throughout the history of Guess, the company has still managed to stand firm and continue their fashion enterprise.

Even at the peak of the controversy surrounded the company, they still remained profitable as they tapped into the lucrative European and Japanese market.

The same passion from the company’s beginnings still apply for today. Thats what continues to drive the brand forward towards their purpose of ‘One World, One Brand’.