Everything You Know About Hollister Is More Fake Than The Shells In A Puka Shell Necklace



For three years, BroBible’s New York City office was located next to the huge Soho Hollister flagship store on Broadway. The place reeked of cheap cologne oozing out onto the sidewalks, almost to the point where it’d cause you to gag on your breath just by walking by in the morning. There were shirtless male models/Derek Zoolander types on guard by the door 24/7, which always made for a chuckle when walking out of the office after work. Conclusion? Hollister is absurd.

Things aren’t as bad these days — Hollister stopped fumigating the sidewalk with uber-masculine, California-themed fragrances and the models don’t hang out outside for the tourists in the summer. But a lot of people still find the brand ridiculous, a throwback to one’s teenage years when clothing brands were associated with the cliques of the proverbially junior high lunch room.

You probably know that Hollister is brand that’s owned and operated by Abercrombie & Fitch. But what you probably don’t know is that Hollister’s brand story is manufactured corporate B.S., as laid out by David Eggers in The New Yorker. Eggers says that employees were told this about the roots of the Hollister brand, via Business Insider:

“John M. Hollister was born at the end of the nineteenth century and spent his summers in Maine as a youth. He was an adventurous boy who loved to swim in the clear and cold waters there. He graduated from Yale in 1915 and, eschewing the cushy Manhattan life suggested for him, set sail for the Dutch East Indies, where he purchased a rubber plantation in 1917. He fell in love with a woman named Meta and bought a fifty-foot schooner. He and Meta sailed around the South Pacific, treasuring ‘the works of the artisans that lived there,’ and eventually settled in Los Angeles, in 1919. They had a child, John, Jr., and opened a shop in Laguna Beach that sold goods from the South Pacific—furniture, jewelry, linens, and artifacts. When John, Jr., came of age and took over the business, he included surf clothing and gear. (He was an exceptional surfer himself.) His surf shop, which bore his name, grew in popularity until it became a globally recognized brand,” he writes.

The reality is that Hollister is a town of 34,000 people in the agricultural area of San Benito County, California, about an hour west of San Francisco near Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world (no, really). It claims to be the birthplace of American biker culture and “inspiration for the 1953 film ‘The Wild One,’ starring Marlon Brando,” reports the L.A. Times. The residents of the town were PISSED when Abercrombie tried to trademark “Hollister” and prohibit them from putting their town’s name on articles of clothing. Via the LA Times in 2009:

To protect the Hollister corporate name, attorneys have filed a slate of trademark applications over the last nine years for use of various forms of the term “Hollister” on belts, blouses, jackets, hats, shoes, deodorant, breath mints, jewelry, lip balm and bags, among other items.

“Who’s to say I can’t put the name of my town and my business on a shirt?” complained Chris Cason, manager of Hollister Motorsports, a motorcycle, ATV and accessories shop that sells several T-shirts bearing the name.

But in reality, the origins of Hollister as a brand itself are FAR more corporate than the Most Interesting Man In The World tale that the company rattles off. Via Tumblr:

Even though Hollister Co. is a brand marketed as being established in 1922, it was actually created in 2000 with its first store opening in July 2000 at the Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. The concept was formulated around a fictional background story created by Mike Jeffries to provide more of an atmosphere for the HCO shopper. The fictional story states Hollister was founded by J. M. Hollister in 1922 as a pacific merchant shop in Southern California. The concept is designed to attract consumers aged 14-18 (Young Teens) through its SoCal-inspired image and casual wear. Despite the age target, the appeal of the HCO brand is universal like its parent brand and was ranked as the second most preferred teen clothing brand in 2008 by US Bancorp Piper Jaffray.

In short, TIL: The “1922” that garnishes many Hollister clothing items is completely made up. Sorry if you thought that 1922 meant something — it was just a made-up ploy to get you to buy more shirts in 8th grade, Bros.

Now back to lookin’ like this guy…

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: brandon@brobible.com