NEW YORK--Guess was founded 15 years ago by brothers Georges and Maurice Marciano, who were later joined by their other two brothers, Paul and Armand.
It propelled its concept of sexy, glamorous jeans through major ad campaigns art-directed by Paul Marciano and shot by fashion photographers like Ellen von Unwerth, Dewey Nicks and Wayne Masur.
The ads featured teasing, sultry images and often used unknowns who went on to become famous--most notably, Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith. Recently, the company produced an elaborate TV commercial, complete with Hollywood plot and Hollywood actors, including Juliette Lewis, Harry Dean Stanton, Traci Lords and Peter Horton.
While the company projected a unified image over the years, its internal politics were anything but. In the early Nineties, there was considerable friction among the brothers, reportedly over Georges Marciano's desire to enter the mass market. This fundamental difference in philosophy spilled over into other areas such as design focus and retail direction.
Georges Marciano left Guess in August 1993, selling his 40 percent stake in the company for $220 million to Maurice, Paul and Armand Marciano.
Guess has been aggressive in adding senior management over the last year. The company has expanded its name into other product categories and other countries--a logical move in a market that's increasingly crowded with designer names launching denim lines with multimillion-dollar ad budgets.
It has licenses for numerous products, from baby clothes to home furnishings to watches. International business has been hot: Guess has a worldwide network of licenses and distributors, with freestanding stores and in-store shops in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Monaco, Canada, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Australia, Panama, Venezuela, Guatemala and Costa Rica. It has more than 30 stores in Mexico and plans several for Australia next year.
Guess has a 6,000-square-foot shop in Florence that is the company's European flagship. The company's European design studio is also in Florence, where a staff of about 100 design the Italy Collection, sold only in Europe, and oversee the European market.
Its most recent development was to reintroduce Guess Collection, a contemporary-price line of sportswear, as a wholesale business.
Guess had vacated that business three years ago, when it closed the Georges Marciano Collection, which Georges Marciano had designed.
Two years ago, it brought back the sportswear as Guess Collection, with Maurice Marciano as design director. After testing the line in its own stores and a few key accounts, such as Bloomingdale's, the company began to offer Guess Collection to department store accounts for this fall.

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