All Grown Up: ’90s brands, today

By Samantha Hayden

As life gets harder, brands get simpler.

The world has quickened its pace while our lifestyles have changed and our needs have grown, but brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Banana Republic – babies of the ’80s that grew popular in the ’90s – remain in vogue.

Things were so easy for us as children. Deciding between pizza Lunchables or nachos Lunchables was about as difficult a decision I ever made; loans and careers definitely weren’t on the radar. As we’ve grown up, however, the environment in which we live has dramatically shifted towards total connectivity, and it’s hard to escape. Technological advancements like the smartphone don’t exactly help either. Hell, BBM lets you know the exact moment your friend receives your message, giving you reason to get pissed when she doesn’t answer.

But the brands that we grew up with understand our struggle for simplicity. That’s why, as we’ve aged, these brands have been striving for authenticity, just like us.

Tommy Hilfiger is a brand born right along with us, in 1985. Back in the ‘90s, the Tommy megabrand boasted cool, preppy pieces with the big logos, big stripes and patriotic colors sewn on its threads. As the brand progressed, the classic themes and colors became less popular and had to be reinvented. The already minimalist designer has since dropped the big logos and overstated styles for a more solid, clean collection. The recent “Feast Interruptus” holiday campaign, featuring Vampire Weekend’s hit song of the same name, is proof that Tommy has revitalized himself and his brand by creating simpler and more accessible fashion.

Unlike the commercials of last decade, the ad is set in a serene environment with a simple car and combination of friends, family, food and general camaraderie (true pleasures) packed in. There is no wild dancing, sexual tension, DJ spinning or celebrity endorsement in sight. The designer is no more relevant to us today than it was back in the ‘90s, but its relevance is for a different reason.

Through positioning and stripped-down messages, the brands of the 90s are able to keep their appeal relevant to us. As times change and we age, both our priorities and our focus shift dramatically. We don’t need flashy sneakers or neon watches. We just want to be happy as we trek the jerky path of life, and a brand that recognizes that will do just fine by us.

Photo by Vincent Teeuwen

Next Great Posts labeled as Next Great are generally submissions by various contributors, whose information can be found within the text of the article. Next Great posts without author information are the collective effort of the editorial staff: Christine Peterson, Alex Pearlman and Edward Boches.

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2 Responses to “All Grown Up: ’90s brands, today”

  1. Tom Bardacky

    I remember going to JcPenny with my mom to buy a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans to fit in. Those were the good ole days.


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