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From Jordache to JNCO to Juicy Couture, we're taking a look at what's become of some once-ubiquitous designer labels. Click through for a trip down designer memory lane.
Jordache: Then
Calvin may have made the practice iconic with a writhing Brooke Shields, but Jordache was the first brand to successfully put the sex in selling jeans. In 1979, the label soared (plunged?) to infamy with a television spot featuring a topless model on horseback—banned, naturally, by all three major networks—and continued to push the boundaries of propriety (while racking up record sales on high-end denim) throughout the '80s and '90s.
Jordache: Now
Today, if you want to get "The Jordache Look", all it takes is a trip to Walmart. The retailer has stocked the brand since 1995—a move that, while wildly lucrative at first, has since chipped away at its designer cache. Their campaign strategy has likewise become less about skin, and more about mass appeal, featuring stars like Heidi Klum, Elizabeth Hurley and 30 Rock's Katrina Bowden. As for the company's founders, however, they're still flying high: according to Bloomberg Businessweek, Jordache Enterprises is now a billion-dollar empire with interests in everything from private jets to tomato paste.
Juicy Couture: Then
Juicy Couture was the loungewear brand of the early-to-mid '00s, providing Paris Hilton, Britney Spears et al. with a comfy, candy-colored uniform to wear while browsing the racks at Kitson or strolling between the salon and their Range Rovers. The tracksuits, rendered in plush velour or terry cloth, were a pop culture hit, showing up on everyone from Rachel Bilson on The O.C. to Amy Poehler in Mean Girls ("cool moms" loved Juicy). Personally, I had a baby pink velour version—a prized possession that I finally purchased after months of coveting the cool girls' tell-tale "J" zipper pulls—which I made sure to have monogrammed when founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor hosted an event at my local Holt Renfrew (think: Canadian Barneys).
Juicy Couture: Now
After a tumultuous few years that saw ownership swap hands and the brand struggle to find its footing in the modern market, Juicy is refocusing its energies. It closed all of its U.S. stores earlier this summer, and parent company Authentic Brands Group has inked deals to expand in China, produce footwear with Steve Madden and distribute through Kohl's beginning this fall, according to Fortune. If you're looking to revisit your youth (or just have a soft spot for velour), the iconic tracksuits are still available by the dozen on Juicy's website, along with more subdued designs like the handbag at left.
Laura Ashley: Then
"It started with a scarf," proclaims the Laura Ashley company history, and indeed, it was the head- and neckscarves that the designer silkscreened on her kitchen table in the mid-'50s that launched her name to the public. But it was the peasant dresses and floral prints of the '60s and '70s that truly turned the designer into a fashion powerhouse. The pastoral designs struck a chord with women at the time, and by 1975, the company boasted 40 stores and 1000 employees. Housewares, furnishings, dress patterns and a staggering number of home decorating guides followed.
Laura Ashley: Now
Today, the name "Laura Ashley" is nearly as synonymous with a certain style of print as "Kleenex" is with tissues. And while the designer died nearly 30 years ago, her legacy lives on in licensed goods sold all over the world—plus two Laura Ashley hotels in England. Admittedly, some of the brand's housewares may bring to mind your great aunt's house (along with an overpowering scent of lavender and baby powder), but others on offer today at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Kohl's are preppy, printed buys well-suited to dorms and first apartments.
Von Dutch: Then
Once a logo seen only on the t-shirts of bikers and hard core car fans, Von Dutch Originals became an instant fad in the early '00s when the owner hired designer Christian Audigier to give it a Hollywood makeover, splashing the curvy signature and flying eyeball logos on denim, t-shirts and trucker hats (so many trucker hats). While the brand took its name from the moniker of Kenneth Howard, a legendary hot-rod and motorcycle customizer, the people who made it ubiquitous were more likely to be found in the back of chauffeured limos (think Madonna, P. Diddy and Justin Timberlake). “It’s hot, hot, hot,” an LA store owner told WWD in 2003. “Even ladies with Birkin bags are buying it." As for me, I certainly didn't have a Birkin bag, but I did own a pair of the jeans you see here. Don't judge me too hard for it.
Von Dutch: Now
Unsurprisingly, Von Dutch is now putting a concerted effort into distancing themselves from their tabloid past. Audigier left the label in 2004 to found Ed Hardy (because of course he did) and the brand went from full-tilt expansion mode to withering has-been soon thereafter. Today, Von Dutch is aligning itself again with hot rod fanatics, and if you want one of their logo t-shirts, you'll have better luck at a car show than at Neiman Marcus.
Rampage: Then
If you went to a department store, opened a magazine or passed by a billboard in the '90s, chances are you encountered Rampage. The SoCal company went gangbusters with their expansion in the earlier part of tthe decade—so much so that they went into bankruptcy—and then revamped and recovered with a leaner strategy, eventually being acquired by Iconix Brands Group (of Candie's, Mudd and Bongo fame).
Rampage: Now
Rampage is still a staple at department stores like Macy's and Dillard's, and its flashy campaigns have featured big name models like Petra Nemcova, Bar Refaeli and Gisele Bündchen, however the brand no longer inspires the same level of fervor that its name might suggest. But with ads fronted by Ireland Baldwin and a pair of Rampage cat socks for sale online, perhaps it's time that changed.
Unionbay: Then
Founded in 1981, Unionbay was a mall staple for decades, expanding from jeans aimed at the juniors set to a full range of apparel, accessories, menswear, childrenswear and beyond. The ads, likewise, were everywhere, featuring tribes of denim-clad cool kids in some and a young Hilary Swank in others.
Unionbay: Now
"Unionbay is about thinking for yourself—without taking yourself too seriously," reads the font-happy "About Us" page. Teens today can shop the Seattle brand online or find their denim-heavy, Northwest-inflected wares at their local Kohl's.
I.O.U.: Then
One of the in-house brands of Baltimore-based Merry-Go-Round Enterprises, I.O.U. (Innovative, Original & Unique) was the epicenter of the sweatshirt craze of the '80s and early '90s. They were bright, instantly recognizable and best paired with coordinating jeans, socks or scrunchies. According to the vintage experts at Reware, they went for $48 for two—though prices dropped as the brand's popularity dipped.
I.O.U.: Now
In 1996, Merry-Go-Round closed what remained of its more than 1,000 stores, liquidated its inventory, and fired the last of its 15,000-odd employees. Its problems were myriad: an overzealous expansion plan, competition from retailers like the Gap and a shrinking customer base. Plus, according to a Fortune article chronicling its downfall, "it simply bet that every last customer across this great land would want to dress like L.L. Cool J." Today I.O.U. duds (including those iconic sweatshirts) can be found on eBay, Etsy and vintage store racks around the country, but what's coolest about the brand's legacy, I think, is the active community of former retail employees, who share stories and post rad throwback photos like the one you see here on the 1,000-member strong alumni Facebook page.
JNCO: Then
With 50-inch leg openings and appliquéd graffiti images of kangaroos and mammoths, JNCO jeans may just take top prize for the most unfortunate trend of the '90s—which is especially impressive when you consider that they were only really hot for about two years. Sales of the "raver jeans" rocketed more than 500 percent between 1995 and 1998, according to reports, cornering a sizable part of the denim market. As Fortune put it at the height of the craze: "Losers wear Levi's; hipsters wear JNCOs." But alas, even these jeans were not too big to fail. The next year, sales plummeted by half, and by the turn of the new millennium, the gargantuan pants were decidedly out.
JNCO: Now
JNCO's parent company, Revatex, closed their factory in 2000, and while there were attempts at relaunches under various owners and licensees in the decade that followed, none came close to drumming up the kind of demand JNCO once enjoyed. The dregs of the company can still be found in corners of the web—a site called BeWild.com proclaims themselves the exclusive retailer for the throwback label and offshoot juniors and mens labels are sold on Kohl's and Amazon—but mercifully, their signature style is basically dead and buried.
Zena Jeans: Then
Introduced in the wake of Gloria Vanderbilt's hit designer denim collection, Zena made a splash in 1978 with jeans that hugged women's curves and ads that taunted television censors. The signature style was snug through the waist and hips, with baggy, tapered legs, and by 1981, the Times reported, the company was selling two million pairs a year to the tune of more than $20 million.
Zena Jeans: Now
The company effectively dropped off the map in 1995 after management opted out of a mass retail deal with Target, and then relaunched in 2002 under the Mudd Inc. umbrella with a new target market: moms. Now, even that line is defunct, so you'll have to go vintage if you want a piece of Zena denim (luckily, it's just a few keystrokes away).
XOXO: Then
XOXO grew and grew throughout the '90s and '00s—capitalizing first on the supermodel heyday with ads fronted by Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer and other big names, and later casting lesser-knowns in still-ubiquitous campaigns. Factor in across-the-board licensing deals and hot demand from the teen market, and XOXO had the fashion world's kiss of approval.
XOXO: Now
Now owned by the same company that controls brands like Rebecca Taylor and Sam Edelman, XOXO is still alive and kicking at your local Macy's—in fact, they tapped our girl Chrissy Teigen for their latest campaign. “Obviously the brand has evolved, but it’s still so recognizable as an XOXO campaign," the model told WWD. "Growing up it was exactly my style. It was sexy and it was flirty and there was something cheeky about it."