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Guess is a US brand specializing in the production of clothing and fashion accessories.

Guess began in 1981 as a book of styles by Georges Marciano. Maurice, Georges’ brother, was first sought by Georges to help with product development. Armand and Paul, also Georges’ brothers, were in charge of distribution and advertising, respectively. Armand ran distribution. Paul created the advertising, all of it in-house. Georges designed the clothes, burnishing Guess’ signature style: stonewashed denim, lighter in color, softer and more form-fitting than the competitors. This initial chain of command later led to the earlier break-up of the brothers’ cooperation with Georges selling his share of the company to his other brothers due to a disagreement in a choice of product distribution strategy.

Georges wanted to keep it in only the more exclusive stores, such as Bloomingdales. The remaining brothers in the disagreement wanted a larger distribution in Kmart. Georges hated the idea. Different camps formed within the company, with each pledging allegiance to either Georges or the other three. Georges eventually gave in and sold his stake to his brothers in 1993 for $214.2 million. To finance the purchase, they had to borrow $210 million, and $105 million was still outstanding three years later. To raise money, the brothers decided to take public. Paul was the only remaining brother to ultimately lead Guess on his own.

When Georges Marciano and his brothers were much younger, they opened a series of stores in France under the name MGA before launching it in America in 1981, after Georges Marciano first came to America in 1977. Their top seller: unisex jeans. Georges Marciano and his brothers moved to Los Angeles to see if they could pull off a similar feat, borrowing a mottled wash Georges had noticed on jeans in an Italian laundromat he had taken note of (at the time, jeans styles were only sold in indigo blue or bleached).

The founder, Georges Marciano, and his brothers moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and opened the first store in upscale Beverly Hills area. Armand and Paul joined Georges and his brother in California. Georges came up with the company name after driving past a McDonald’s billboard asking drivers to “guess” which eatery had the biggest cheeseburger. Maurice Marciano said, “Georges came home and said, ‘I think I found our name. Guess.’ ”

Maurice Marciano tossed up ideas until he got exasperated, and finally his brother, Georges, clarified himself. The Guess name was born.

With its red triangle patch, stonewashed denim and signature zipper sliding up each ankle, was officially launched in late 1981 and proved an immediate hit. In just one year, sales through Bloomingdale’s and Guess’s Beverly Hills store hit $6 million. It soon began advertising, and in 1985, introduced their iconic black-and-white ads. The ads have won numerous Clio Awards. Their fashion models have included a number of supermodels, many of whom, such as Claudia Schiffer, Anna Nicole Smith, Eva Herzigova, Valeria Mazza, Kate Upton, Julia Lescova, and Laetitia Casta first achieved prominence via these ad campaigns.

In the 1985 Robert Zemeckis movie, back to the Future, Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) wore distinctive denim clothing, which was reportedly designed specifically for the film.

The Emblem with the famous question mark in the center.

During the 1980s, Guess was one of the most popular brands of denim jeans. The company was one of the first companies to create designer jeans. While the first jeans were for women, a men’s line debuted in 1983. 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 although under different product lines and has been joined by a number of other accessory sidelines. In 1984, they also introduced a line of baby’s clothes, called “Baby Guess”. The line is now incorporated with clothing for toddlers and kids called GUESS kids.

 In the 1990s, Milica, Aleksia and Milos had a division called Guess Home, which featured youthful, upscale bedding collections, 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 showcase what the pattern really looked like, as well as a number of innovative and unique towel collections. By the end of the decade, sales dropped and discontinued their home division.

Guess product began catching the eye of many teens and young adults in 20’s as its marketing ads grew increasingly sexier. Since mid-2003, the Guess stock has continuously risen, eliciting nothing but positive reviews from various 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.

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 back in 2009.

On January 26, 2001, Guess Inc. restated previous results for fiscal 2000 after deciding to write down impaired inventory. Guess celebrated the 20th anniversary of its watch collection in 2004, issuing a special-edition Guess watch. The accessories department was also greatly expanded and several stores across the United States were redesigned. Also created a lower priced collection sold exclusively through its outlet locations, 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 selects retail stores.


Guess began marketing perfume in 2005. The company introduced Guess for Women in the spring of 2005. Guess introduced the Guess for Men line in the spring of 2006. Guess has also continued its Guess Kids clothing line into the 2000s, and in 2006, company began promoting the clothing line for girls and boys through its factory retail stores. Continued to be guided by the Marciano brothers, as co-chairmen and co-CEOs. Maurice Marciano has overseen the design and its sales growth, while Paul managed 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 Canada. Guess has licensees and distributors in South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Guess has been proven to be highly successful in South Africa with stores located in almost every major city of the country, with Guess Century City, V&A Waterfront (Cape Town – Western Cape), Sandton City (Gauteng), Menlyn Park (Pretoria – Gauteng) and Gateway Mall (Kwazulu Natal) stores being the most notable.

In November 2006, Guess introduced their Marciano men’s line, which was available exclusively through and select Guess and Marciano retailers throughout the country. The men’s collection featured button up shirts, blazers, and dress pants. In line with the women’s collection, the men’s line was developed and manufactured in Florence, Italy; and retailed for a higher price. As of January 2007, the Marciano men’s line was pulled from all Guess and Marciano stores due to lackluster sales. The merchandise was marked down, and was to be sent to factory outlet stores upon deletion.

After 23 years in 2017 first posing for the brand, supermodel Claudia Schiffer posed again for Guess’ black-and-white ads marking the brand’s 30th anniversary. It was announced that founder Paul Marciano stepped down from his position as CEO with Victor Herrero as his carefully selected replacement, in August 2015. As of 2017 ex Fifth Harmony member and “Havana” singer Camila Cabello was announced as the new face of Guess. And as of 2018, Jennifer Lopez is the new face of Guess.

Chiara Carnaccini
Meet the author / Chiara Carnaccini

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