American fashion house
Founded: by Georges, Maurice, Armand, and Paul Marciano, 1981. Company History: Signed license for knitwear, 1982; sold half ownership to Jordache, 1983; brothers regained ownership, 1988; signed license with Revlon for signature fragrance, 1990; Rodeo Drive store opened and eyewear line added, 1992; Georges sold his stake to brothers, 1993; launched golf apparel line and entered home furnishings, 1994-95; went public, 1996; brought apparel licensing back in-house, 1999; opened Baby Guess, Guess Kids, and Guess Home stores, 2000; launched G Brand line, 2001. Company Address: 1444 S. Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021, U.S.A. Company Website: www.guess.com .
On GUESS, INC.:
Byron, Christopher, Skin Tight: The Bizarre Story of Guess v. Jordache—Glamour, Greed, and Dirty Tricks in the Fashion Industry, New York, 1992.
Behar, Richard, "Does Guess Have a Friend in the IRS?" in Forbes, 16 November 1987.
Byron, Christopher, "The Great Jeans War," in New York, 24 July 1989.
Welles, Chris, "A 'Blood War' in the Jeans Trade," in Business Week, 13 November 1989.
"Blue Jeans," in Consumer Reports, July 1991.
Marlow, Michael, "Guess at 10: $550 Million and Growing," in WWD, 20 December 1991.
Appelbaum, Cara, "Recession Killers," in Adweek's Marketing Week, 10 February 1992.
Marlow, Michael, "Guess on Rodeo: The Beverly Hills Cowboy," in WWD, 24 November 1992.
Wilson, Marianne, "Guess Ranch Lassos Rodeo Drive," in Chain Store Age Executive, January 1993.
"Guess? Solving Fashion Formula," in Sporting Goods Business, March 1993.
Ryan, Thomas J., "Marchianos Buy a Piece of Gitano," in WWD, 17March 1993.
Strom, Stephanie, "Guess Names Specialty Store Chief to Lead its Retail Unit," in the New York Times, 31 August 1993.
Foley, Bridget, "The Thrill is Back—A Voracious Appetite for Fashion Emerges," in WWD, 12 August 1996.
Davidson, Kirk, "Guess Ads Cross Line from Fashion Art to Pornography," in Marketing News, 21 October 1996.
Ozzard, Janet, "Thoroughly modern mega brands," in WWD, 31October 1996.
Malone, Soctt, "Under New Owner, Guess Sport to Push Fashion," in Footwear News, 13 April 1998.
Cunningham, Thomas, "Guess Losses Hit $13.1M in Fourth Quarter," in DNR, 9 March 2001.
Caplan, David Grant, "Guess' New Fashion Plate," in WWD, 24 May 2001.
It is sometimes hard to see beyond the sexy image projected by Guess, Inc., created by Paul Marciano, one of the four Marciano brothers who founded the Guess empire in 1981. Guess fashions, which began with jeans for men and women, have expanded to include denim-driven collections for all ages, including Baby Guess and Guess Kids.
Criticized for being demeaning to women, the controversial Guess advertisements have created such response that most American men or women can name at least one Guess "girl." Supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Shana Zadrick were among the small group of Guess models who vaulted to celebrity status. The line evokes a playful, body-conscious attitude. When Guess appeared on the scene in the early 1980s, the designer jeans craze was all but over. The Marciano brothers, however, created enough of a stir through their powerful advertising to induce a new trend in designer denims.
There is usually a seasonal theme to the Guess collections from year to year, but a longrunning Western tone has permeated the line in some shape or form. Yet it took more than a simple image and basic denim line to make this company so successful; Guess works hard to develop innovative treatments and washes for denim, all the while experimenting with colors other than indigo. It pioneered the use of acid and enzyme washes in its textiles, abrading and brushing denims and twills and using different types of denims, such as ring-spun.
Businesswise, Guess went through a bit of a shake-up in the mid-1980s, when the Nakash brothers of Jordache Enterprises challenged the Marciano brothers in a long legal battle over ownership of Guess. A stronger Guess, Inc. emerged from the fight, larger and more successful than ever before, with forceful entries into the men's and children's areas as well as a foray into a more sophisticated category for women, the Georges Marciano signature line. The Marciano line offers more tailored dressing in the form of skirts, trousers, jackets, and related coordinates. Again, however, this is no ordinary power dressing line—the clothes were cut and fitted closer to the figure of a woman's body. Although the clothes can be worn in the more casual work environment, wearers must be supremely confident women— confident in their sensuality and in their position.
The Guess suffered growing pains in 1993 when Georges wanted to take the mass marketing route and his siblings insisted the label stay more exclusive. Unable to compromise, Georges sold his 38-percent stake in the firm and struck on his own, founding rival Yes brand in 1994. After Georges departure the remaining Marcianos continued to expand the Guess empire, producing golf apparel and home furnishings, in addition to its other licensing agreements for footwear, watches, handbags, eyewear, and fragrances. Guess stores opened throughout the U.S., including shops in vast outlet malls as well.
In 1996 the Marcianos took Guess public and used funds to take the brand into Europe. Yet the debut of designer duds from Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Clavin Klein's CK denim collections gave chase and Guess found itself foundering. Initiating a major restructuring, the firm brought its licensing in-house, refurbished existing stores, and planned new retailers for its Baby Guess, Guess Kids, and Guess Home lines in 1999 and 2000.
Guess suffered losses in late 2000, due to soft department store sales, costs related to revamping its image, and its expansion. Guess bounced back, however, announcing the launch of a new line, G Brand, in 2001 which the firm characterized as "more sophisticated and more detailed" than its other denim collections.
updated by Owen James