Guess which jeans were the hottest property in the early 80’s? Just when denim was thought to be dead, Guess? jeans reignited the fire for denim with their stonewashed 3-zip Marilyn style. The inverted triangle patch, the question mark…nothing was hotter than a pair of stonewashed, fitted ankle-length jeans (with zippers at the hem so you could get your feet through and rezip for the tightest fit possible) by Guess?
The Marciano brothers of France were tired of traditional denim, and they broke that ennui by creating a new style dramatically different from the dark denim, stovepipe leg of designer jeans. The designer craze was dying, and retailers were looking for something new. In 1981, a few dozen sample pairs of Marilyn were put in the stores as a favor: they flew off the shelf in a matter of hours. Soon, names like Gloria Vanderbilt, Sasson and Sergio Valente were forgotten. Everyone yielded to the power of the inverted triangle; denim was back with a whole new look.
Distressed denim reinvented the traditional blue jean, and Guess? was there first with stonewash jeans. Stonewash altered the denim by breaking down the fibers and releasing the indigo dye, giving it a ‘relaxed’ look. The process turned stiff denim into soft, faded blue from repeated ‘beatings’ with coarse stones and chemicals in massive tumble washers. While denim had been bejeweled, studded and painted in the past, stonewash chemically altered the material and marked a new transition in denim.
Guess? became synonymous with high glamour in denim, rocketing models like Anna Nicole Smith, Claudia Schiffer and Karen Mulder to superstardom. Being dubbed the new Guess? model assured instant success and worldwide recognition. Guess? also helped to launch the fascination with male models, ranking men like Jason Lewis and Alex Lundquist against top female models. Even though the turn of the millennium, Guess?’s groundbreaking ads continued to entice, featuring faces like Drew Barrymore and rapper Tyrese.
Guess?’s frontman, brother Georges, stepped down from the pedestal in 1993, allowing the other brothers to run the business. The company continues to produce fashionable clothing for both men and women, as well as Guess? watches and a line of children’s clothing, Baby Guess?
With such a successful history behind them, we’d hate to deflate that aura of mystique that Guess? has built up, but your mastery of trivia would be incomplete without this interesting tidbit: The name ‘Guess?’ was inspired by a bus ad spotted by Georges that read, “Guess what’s in a Big Mac?” Now you don’t have to guess any more.
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