Guess (styled as GUESS or Guess?) is an American clothing brand and retailer. In addition to clothing for both men and women, Guess markets other fashion accessories such as watches, jewelry, perfumes, bags and shoes.
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. and 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.
Georges had wanted to sell Guess products in only the more exclusive stores, such as Bloomingdales; while the other brothers decided they wanted a broader distribution strategy, which included discount stores. Georges continued to oppose the idea of marketing Guess products beyond luxury retail outlets, and different alliances formed within the company. Georges abruptly sold his stake in the company to his brothers in September, 1993 for $214.2 million. To finance the purchase, the remaining three brothers had to borrow $210 million, and $105 million was still outstanding three years later. To raise money, the brothers decided to take Guess public.
Brother Armand quietly left the company later, after a medical leave. In 2015, Maurice retired from the company, leaving Paul as the only remaining brother on Guess’ board.
When Georges Marciano and his brothers were much younger, they opened a series of stores in France under the name MGA before launching Guess 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.
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.
On January 26, 2001, Guess Inc. restated previous results for fiscal 2000 after deciding to write down impaired inventory. 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.
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 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 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.