Male Designer Brands from the 80’s and 90’s: Where are They Now?
As Gruhme looks ahead to its own ambitions we took a glance back over a few brands that inspired today's booming industry in male fashion and trends.July 29th, 2016
In the 80s and 90s – back in the twentieth century when greed was good and suits were everywhere – the world of fashion was ruled by three major brands: Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss.
Tommy Hilfiger started his own clothing store in 1969 and had gone bust by 1977, but not before he had discovered a passion for design. Over the next decade he learned about the business of fashion and set up a number of other companies, culminating with the founding of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1985.
One of the new company’s first moves was to set up a large billboard in Times Square declaring that Hilfiger had arrived and was every bit as significant a brand as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. People may have had their doubts at the time, but over the next ten years, Tommy Hilfiger would explode. It became the official outfitter of ’90s hip-hop, was associated with Britney Spears, Lenny Kravitz and Aaliyah, and in 2000, it had sales of $2bn.
Then for a while the fashion icon fell out of fashion. But it came back.
In 2010 the company was bought by the then owner of Calvin Klein and with its biggest year ever in 2013 (revenues of $3.4 billion), Tommy Hilfiger is once again one of the biggest global fashion brands. At New York Fashion Week in 2016, Tommy announced an upcoming collaboration with social media supermodel Gigi Hadid.
Ralph Lauren was working as a tie salesman in the 60s. After designing a tie that was rejected by the company he worked for, he quit his job and set up on his own, opening his own tie store in 1967. Things went well and by the 1990s, Ralph Lauren was widely known as the King of Menswear, and his Polo Sport line was worn by people from all walks of life.
In 2015, Ralph Lauren announced that he would be stepping down as CEO and in summer 2016, shareholders have been warned of an upcoming decline in sales, with the new CEO, Stefan Larsson, announcing a plan to cut costs drastically, and close 10% of stores. Part of the current decline is due to a significant amount of Ralph Lauren sales being in-store, and the younger generation today making more and more purchases online.
Hugo Boss went bankrupt after seven years in 1931, but then landed a very lucrative contract just before WWII. After the war, Hugo Boss passed away and his son-in-law Eugen Holy took over, changing the fortunes of the company by making readymade suits. In the 70s, the Boss brand started to appear on Formula One cars and in other high-profile sports tournaments. Then in the 80s and 90s, it became the brand of choice for power-dressing sharks of Wall Street.
Today, Hugo Boss is 90% publicly owned, has revenues of $2.8bn and is apparently still considered one of the top 30 coolest brands in the world (not just in fashion).