Guess (styled as GUESS?) is an American name-brand
clothing line. Guess also markets other
fashion accessories besides clothes,
jewelry. They also own the line
Guess was founded by Georges, Armand, Paul, and
Maurice Marciano, four brothers born in
Morocco. They moved to
California in 1977 and founded the company in
1981. Seed money to start the business came from
Nakash family, owners of the
Jordache denim empire. Their first product was
a three-zipper style of jeans they named "Marilyn"
(Style # 1015). Department stores and fashion critics
were initially reluctant to carry the new 'stone
washed denim' jeans, but in December when
finally agreed with Georges to stock two dozen pairs
of the new jeans as a favor to the brothers. They
sold out quickly.
Their advertising campaigns began in 1982, and they
introduced their iconic black-and-white ads in 1985.
The ads have won numerous
Clio Awards. Their fashion models have included
a number of widely-recognized
supermodels, many of whom first achieved prominence
via the ad campaigns.
In the 1985
Robert Zemeckis movie,
Back to the Future, Marty McFly (Michael
J Fox) wore distinctive Guess denim clothing,
designed specifically for the film.
During the 1980s Guess was one of the most popular
brands of jeans. The company was one of the first
companies to create
While the first jeans were for women, in 1983 a
men's line debuted. In 1984 Guess introduced its
new line of watches known as "Guess", "Guess
Steel", and the"Guess
Collection" The watch line is still in
existence today, and has been joined by a number
of other accessory sidelines. In 1984, they also
introduced a line of baby's clothes, called "Baby
In the 1990s, they also had a division called
Guess Home, which featured youthful, upscale
bedding collections (Guess was the first company
to package each sheet, duvet and pillowcase pair
in packaging actually made from sheeting material,
which was a clever way to show what the pattern
really looked like) as well as a number of innovative
towel collections. By the end of the decade, sales
dropped and Guess discontinued their home division.
Stagnation and Controversy
After Abigail's line in the 1980s the company began
to take a downturn during the nineties, as other
companies such as
Tommy Hilfiger, and
Gap began rising in popularity. Guess' sales
suffered, and its stock dropped dramatically.
As well as increasing competition, Guess also saw
a serious tarnishing of its image during this time.
More significantly, as awareness of
sweatshop use among major corporations grew,
Guess was quickly marked as a major offender in
this area. In 1992, Guess contractors faced litigation
from the US
Department of Labor (DOL) due to failure to
pay their employees the minimum wage or adequate
overtime. Rather than face a court case, $573,000
in back wages was paid to employees.
Soon afterward, Guess promised to monitor their
contractors for illegal activity, and the company
earned a place on the US DOL's 'Trendsetters List',
but this position was suspended several years later
in 1996 after independent inspectors found violations
of regulations at seven of the company's contractors.
In the same year the company was sued by the
Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees
(UNITE), again due to the failure to pay the minimum
wage or overtime to workers. The settlement, supervised
by the US Department of Labor, saw the reinstatement
of 8 workers found to have been illegally fired
and another $80,000 in back pay given to workers,
but almost immediately afterward Guess announced
that it was moving its sewing production to Mexico.
The company denied that the move was related to
these court cases, but its public image continued
Throughout the nineties, UNITE continued a public
relations campaign against Guess, focusing on the
experiences of former employees. Eventually, Guess
countered with a defamation suit against Unite and
several of its officials, while in 1997 the company
ran full-page ads in many major American newspapers
claiming that its contractors were guaranteed
100% free of sweatshop labour. The wording
of these ads was changed after federal authorities
complained that the claims had not been made by
anyone in the government and had no official status.
Guess especially began expanding in the less competitive
and increasingly lucrative
Japanese markets. In 2005 Guess pulled a line
of t-shirts from the market after Erika Becker-Medina
 , a DC area resident and government employee,
spearheaded a campaign calling for the boycott of
the company. "Ski Colombia: Always Plenty
of Fresh Powder" was designed on the
t-shirts released by the company in the second quarter
of 2005, apparently in reference to
Colombia's drug-trafficking problem. Guess distributed
letters of apology.
In the 2000s, the company promoted a different look
and sense of style, while the controversy that surrounded
the company during the nineties was largely forgotten.
As the marketing ads grew increasingly sexier, Guess's
sales began to take a turn for the better. In 2005,
Guess began catching the eye of many new people
(mainly teens) who were unaware of Guess's earlier
history. Since mid-2003, the Guess stock has continuously
risen, eliciting nothing but positive reviews from
stock holders and
Wall Street, though the wider community has
more mixed opinions. Recently, the clothing and
accessories company has redesigned itself, offering
several new aspects to the company.
Since Guess was looking to make its impact once
again on the fashion market, the Marciano brothers
called upon hotel heiress and fashion mogul Paris
Hilton to feature in a new series of ads. The daring
ads were successful in grabbing media attention
for the company. The company even promoted a line
of Paris accessories including a Guess Paris Hilton
In 2004, Guess celebrated the 20th anniversary of
its watch collection, issuing a special-edition
Guess watch. The accessories department was also
greatly expanded and several stores across the United
States were redesigned. Guess also created a lower
priced collection sold exclusively through its outlet
locations. Guess also introduced its first brand
extension, the up-scale female line of clothing
and accessories, named Marciano. The line features
pricey, runway-inspired styles, and is featured
in several retail locations throughout the world,
as well as select Guess retail stores.
In 2005 Guess began marketing
perfume. The company introduced Guess for
Women in the spring of 2005. Guess introduced
the Guess for Men line in the spring of As
of 2006 .
Guess has also continued its Guess Kids clothing
line into the 2000s, and in 2006, Guess began promoting
the clothing line for girls and boys through its
factory retail stores. Guess continues to be guided
by the Marciano brothers, as co-chairmen and co-CEOs.
Maurice has overseen the design and its sales growth,
while Paul manages the image and advertising. The
company operates in many countries around the world
with the majority of their stores located in the
United States and
In early 2007 Guess introduced a new business concept
known as G by Guess. The new brand sought
to focus on a target audience similar to Abercrombie's
Hollister brand. G by Guess offers clothes
popular among teenagers at an affordable price. Many denim styles are priced
within the $40 to $50 range. The new brand is priced
American Eagle and
Gap. Guess? has already begun heavily promoting
the new concept in several cities across the United
States. Their stores feature eye-catching displays
and offer a sassy night-club atmosphere.
Around the same time, Guess? disabled their Guess
Factory website. The outlet website offered similar
styles at similar prices as the G by Guess line.
The company's factory stores will still remain open
at their respective outlet mall locations, however
the discount product is no longer available through
an online retailer.
In October 2006 Guess expanded their shoe line by
re-introducing men's shoes. Guess pulled the men's
shoe collection from their establishment back in
2003 due to lackluster sales and interest. The initial
response was slow, however by early 2007, the new
men's footwear line began to increase steadily,
and Guess? has continued to push and introduce new
designs into the line. The men's footwear line now
offers more than 15 styles ranging between sandals
to dress shoes.
In November 2006 Guess introduced their Marciano
men's line, which is available exclusively through
Guess.com, and select Guess and Marciano retailers
throughout the country. As of November 2006 the
new men's collection features button up shirts,
blazers, and dress pants. The men's line will, like
the women's line, be developed and manufactured
in Florence, Italy; and will be available for a
higher price. As of January 2007 the Marciano men's
line was pulled from Guess? stores due to lackluster
sales. The merchandise was marked down, and will
be sent to factory outlet stores upon deletion.
After the success of the fragrance line which included
scents for both men and women, Guess? introduced
two new fragrances. Guess? Gold is the latest addition
to the women's collection, while Guess? Suede was
the second installment for the men's fragrance.
Both scents retail for around $50 and are available
in several retail locations.
With fiscal Spring 2007, Guess entered a new phase
with their GC watch collection. The newest additions
are in response to the growing demand for designer
watches featuring eye-catching designs, and high-end
prices. The new watches help to expand the popular
GC collection, and help to separate it from the
mid-price watches Guess has come to be known for.
Moving away from the traditional steel material
used to produce the majority of Guess? watches,
the company along with Callanen International, the
producer of Guess? watches have introduced gold,
silver, and diamonds into the designs. The new products
are all Swiss made, and boast a much higher pricer.
The GC men's collection now range between $200 and
$1,200, while the women's watches are being sold
between $200 and $1,000.
Dolce & Gabbana, and
Fendi all place the highest on Guess's competition
with entry level high-end watches. D&G, in late
2006 launched a massive campaign promoting their
new D&G watch collection, marketing on such
TV channels as
During the first half of 2007 Guess introduced a
new line, G by Guess. Throughout 2008, relatively
unknown model Adam Bertrand headlined Guess' advertising
In October 2008 they opened up at Westfield Shopping
Centre in London and there are plans to open a branch
in Regent Street for autumn 2009.
many other clothing giants, has been criticised for its use of clothings
sweatshops. Billboards subsequently appeared in Las Vegas and
New York featuring a photograph
of Rage Against the Machine with the caption "Rage Against
Sweatshops: We Don't Wear Guess? – A Message from Rage Against The
Machine and UNITE. Injustice. Don't buy it."