Esprit is founded as Susie and Doug Tompkins start selling clothes bearing the new brand out of the back of their station wagon in San Francisco.
Esprit Far East Group begins when Doug and Susie Tompkins meet Michael Ying, who would become the group’s chairman and a shareholder of Esprit. The company incorporates under the name of Esprit de Corp. and seven product lines are created.
Sales top $100 million and international partnerships in Hong Kong and Germany are formed.
John Casado designs the famous Esprit stencileffect logo. Despite worries that the triple-bar “E” would not be legible to customers, the new logo becomes one of the most recognized in international fashion.
First Esprit store opens in Germany. Cologne is chosen for the first Esprit site in that nation. The store is designed by Ettore Sottsass with typical elements of the Memphis style Sottsass founded.
Susie and Doug Tompkins urge the public to confront the growing AIDS epidemic. In the same year the company expands into Taiwan, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
The Japanese art publisher Robundo publishes “Esprit, the Comprehensive Design Principle.” Esprit has now been launched in France, Norway and the U.K. Susie and Doug Tompkins divorce. A year later, Susie Tompkins and an investor group buy out her ex-husband’s stake in the U.S. business. Doug Tompkins continues to hold a stake in the worldwide business.
The “What would you do to change the world?” campaign becomes well-known and famous worldwide.
Esprit’s Asian distribution business is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as Esprit Asia Holdings Ltd.
The operating divisions of Esprit Apparel, Footwear and Accessories are combined to create the Esprit Wholesale division, with Andrew Cohen as president of the new unit. Esprit Far East Ltd. and Esprit de Corp. GmbH announce they will merge their operations to improve design, marketing and sourcing for both companies. Esprit Far East is the Hong Kong-based holding company for the European subsidiary.
The Esprit design philosophy is applied to new product categories: eyewear, timepieces, bed and bath, hosiery. Heinz Krogner takes over as head of Esprit’s European operation. Sales are $350 million.
Esprit is represented in 44 countries, and ranked 28th out of the 100 most recognized brands in the U.S. Jay Margolis, a former executive with Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne, becomes chairman and chief executive at Esprit de Corp., based in San Francisco. Susie and Doug Tompkins sever their last ties to Esprit. They agree to sell their interests in the worldwide sportswear company to their Hong Kong-based partner, Michael Ying. The U.S. operation — Esprit de Corp. — agrees to restructure its debt. Oaktree Capital Management and Cerberus Partners became controlling shareholders.
The Labor Department adds Esprit de Corp. to its Trendsetter List, its good-guy roster of companies deemed to be taking exemplary steps to guard against buying apparel made under sweatshop conditions. Esprit de Corp. licenses Beach Patrol Inc. to produce its first full swimwear collection, which will also include selected beach-related sportswear styles.
Esprit de Corp. launches an on-line store at esprit.com, replacing its original Web site.
Joseph E. Heid, former president of Revlon International, is named chairman, ceo and president of Esprit de Corp., San Francisco, succeeding Jay Margolis, who said he would leave when his contract expires in January 2000.
Esprit Holdings Ltd. becomes a constituent stock of Morgan Stanley’s MSCI Hong Kong Index. The new millennium opens with Esprit asking: “How much faster can we grow?” New product lines such as sportswear, clothes for newborns and toys are introduced.
Worldwide brand awareness grows, especially in Germany, by 84 percent, a record for the company. Esprit Holdings Ltd. reenters the U.K. market after a three-year hiatus, with the opening of its first flagship on Regent Street in London.
Esprit Holdings Ltd. unifies the global Esprit brand by purchasing the U.S. trademarks and the remaining interests in Esprit International, bringing the brand back under the control of one single entity for the first time since the Seventies.
In the Global Business Headquarters, Esprit commemorates Ettore Sottsass with an exhibition. This partnership with the designer has existed since 1982. His design and architecture formed the Esprit stores and showrooms worldwide. Ettore Sottsass was substantially involved in building up the brand.
The Esprit brand is sold on five continents and in more than 40 countries, with 640 freestanding stores and over 12,000 wholesale customers. More than 20,000 products are designed each year for 12 product lines for women, men and kids — and in addition a wide variety of licensed products.
Esprit launches de.corp. Trendier and more progressive than its “big sister,” Esprit women casual, the new Esprit division addresses 18- to 25-yearolds who are in search of a clean, urban and young style. The first set of garments presented by de.corp, Esprit Urban Casual, features a cool Eighties inspired look. MTV Networks and edc by Esprit announce an extensive partnership with the first solo performance of the edc by Esprit brand as a sponsor of Europe’s biggest music event — the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Esprit celebrates its 40th anniversary with a number of activities across all divisions and license partners.