Paul Marciano has knocked the dirt off denim and made the material sexy. But not only cool parts and hot cuts are important to the Guess dad, but also their sustainable productionEdited: Neda Hofer, Marina Warth Photography: Guess
„Denim ist der vielseitigste Stoff der Welt.“
FACES: How do you explain the heritage of Guess?
Paul Marciano: GUESS is a lifestyle brand that is sexy, iconic, and adventurous. It’s the perfect combination of California chic with a European twist and sophistication. This is the essence of our brand and what distinguishes it from our competitors. Our advertising campaigns, which I have personally supervised since the brand’s inception, are a cornerstone of our image and will continue to be so for many years to come.
F: What does the typical Guess customer look like?
PM: Guess customers exude self-confidence: our fans choose styles that enhance their personalities and give them the uniqueness they deserve. Our GUESS customers expect high quality and core statement garments that last longer in their wardrobe and that they can style with different looks.
F: What’s the right way to wear denim this spring?
PM: The trend for the spring is super sexy with denim bustier and low-rise denim. Denim is coming back strong with a strong offer if washes and new fits.For men, the best way to wear denim is being confident on any occasion, with a straight leg denim in a mid-blue wash a white plain t shirt and a blue blazer you can’t go wrong. The goal is to feel comfortable and well-dressed at the same time thanks to a timeless pair of jeans.
F: Are trends still necessary?
PM: It’s fun to have some key trend pieces in the line to spice up the collection and to have statement pieces for the most trend forward customer, but to me the most important objective is to have key essential pieces that every Guess customer needs to enhance her and his style. It’s all about high performance fabrication, high quality manufacturing and the perfect fit to enhance different body types.
F: What’s the advantage of denim in comparison to other fabrics?
PM: Denim is the most versatile and timeless fabric in the world. The story of this fabric speaks for itself, born for workers in the factories has become a piece that is always present on catwalks of the biggest luxury brands, is cool and is durable is built to last but could be elegant and chic at the same time. Also, the fashion industry is extremely invested finding new and innovative ways to make the material more sustainable while also maintaining quality, for example in GUESS, we’ve introduced a sustainable indigo dyeing process that eliminates the use of water, so it achieves zero wastewater discharge, which drastically minimizes its impact on the environment.
F: The fashion industry is constantly changing. What’s currently happening that you’re thinking about the most?
PM: Fashion is constantly evolving and is always trying to reinvent itself but this time the changes that we will face are much more significant. It will be not a matter of trends or silhouettes the changes that are coming will be radical and the most important challenges to face off from now on are SUSTAINABILITY & DIGITALIZATION.
F: How do rising costs, conflicts and insecurities affect the fashion industry and your work?
PM: We will lie if we say that nothing changed in the last couple of years, of course we are struggling to handle all those unexpected changes from the pandemic, material, and trans-
port challenges and then a war in Europe which is affecting the energy business and the life of millions of people. The only way to drive a business nowadays is being adaptable, flexible, and able to adapt the structures according with the needs and the emergencies that are coming day by day.
F: Is being a fashion designer still a dream job nowadays?
PM: Honestly being a Designer is still absolutely a dream job today, of course the job has changed across the years, but it will always be a job that allows you to express your talent and vision through the creation of a collection.
F: What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now and how do you manage it?
PM: During the years have experienced crisis and we have made it through. It is always important to looking forward to anticipating our challenges and be focused on the things we can control. This for me can be summed into three points:
1) Always remaining true to the principles of the brand and keeping a clear focus of who we are
2) Never get comfortable. There is always opportunity to improve and expand the brand.
3) Never forget what the consumer wants.
F: Reducing consumption is one step in making the world a better place. Where do you see Guess’ place in this future?
PM: I believe sustainability is something everyone, all around the world should be concerned about. Without a healthy world, we have nothing! This world is a beautiful place, and it’s up to all of us to keep it that way. At GUESS, this means creating amazing product with more sustainable materials that offers our customer the highest level of quality: in Guess we are focused on ROI, which stands for Recycled, Organic and Innovative. These are the materials we are endlessly adding to our collection. As more sustainable fabrics and processing technologies emerge, we evaluate them for potential use by our suppliers. We also assess emerging approaches to make sure the fibers or fabrics they produce align with the well-known Guess brand and our customers’ high expectations for fit and fashion.
F: How do people buy a pair of denim jeans in the future? What tools make buying a pair of jeans online a lot easier and a store visit maybe even unnecessary?
PM: This is exactly what I was thinking of when I mentioned digitization in fashion. We’re moving towards a more virtual customer experience, and therefore we keep investing on improving our digital experience on our global site. Of course, I am still a romantic soul, and I am happy to see people still interested in the physical store experience and the satisfaction of holding a good pair of jeans they just bought. I still believe in exceptional customer service and continuing to improve our instore experience for our customers.
F: Transparency is one of the most important aspects of a fashion brand today. What does Guess do to ensure transparency to its customers?
PM: That’s right! Transparency is one of our most important values. We are very proud of our report VISION GUESSas we are one of the first in the fashion industry to have our CSR report undergo reasonable assurance – the highest level of third-party review. Our Sustainability progress is not just marketing, it is rooted in evidence – and we have the data to back it up!
F: Glamour and sexiness are key aspects of Guess’ commercials. How did these aspects change over the years and how do you define sexiness today?
PM: The GUESS DNA has always been and will always be young, sexy, and adventurous even though today we’re also proud to say that we’re young, sexy, and sustainable. Sexiness is one of our cornerstones and something Guess will always represent in a contemporary yet iconic way.
F: Movies and series show a very glam life of people working in the fashion industry. What is working in fashion really like?
PM: I think it depends on what work you do but, in general, fashion industry is not always glamourous and glitters such as shown in TV series, sometimes is high pressure with lots of deadlines and you must be focused and really motivated, on the other side, the personal fulfillment that comes is huge.
F: Is founding a new fashion label easier today than it was in the past? Why do you think so?
PM: The consumer’s behavior has changed. There is no more brand loyalty and more attention to price points. This is our challenge every day to continue to offer great designs at a great quality and at an affordable price. Also, in the past years e commerce has totally revolutionized the retail industry, to stay in business, you need to be a relevant player in e commerce and make the right investment in infrastructure, technology, and teams to develop this business.
F: What are the key aspects of having a successful fashion label?
PM: Our strength is that at GUESS we always remain true to the principles of our brand, and we always keep a clear focus of who we are. I believe that in fashion, it is important to stay current with trends, but I don’t appreciate when brands become trend victims. After all these years, I have learned that GUESS is not just a company, GUESS is Family. I realized that more and more as I keep on hearing how our associates, models and partners are referring to GUESS as a family. We have several associates in the company who have been with us from day one which is exceptional. I think that this is the best way to really show who we are as a brand. I am not only happy but thrilled of what we have achieved so far! Being a solid company with over 1600 stores in more than 100 countries with over 25 product categories is not a simple journey. I believe that GUESS has been and is still a success since we’re still today true to who we are and to our brand DNA. We respect our roots, and we don’t fall for every single seasonal trend. We do qualitative apparel and accessories that are timeless and essential always with sustainability in mind.
F: Why did you once want to work in fashion?
PM: I started in fashion because of the American dream! A dream I shared with my brothers when we planned to go to LA on Holiday for two weeks, but we stayed for two months! I have always loved fashion and advertising. I feel very fortunate to do what I am passionate about every day. The GUESS advertising campaigns are very important to me and they play an important role in the brand story and image.
F: How do you visualize the fashion industry in ten years from now?
PM: Still attractive, seductive, functional, versatile, and most important less polluting.
F Where do you best find inspiration?
PM My inspirations come from music, travels, Black and White movies from the 50’s and 60’s have inspired me from a very young age, and you can always see their influence in my campaigns and in they collections.
F What’s your favorite place on earth and why?
PM I have a special connection to Tahiti since 2004 when I visited Taha’a and Raiatea with my wife. It was then that I fell in love with the country and the Tahitian culture and the sunset there, are just amazing.
F You’re an inspiration for young designers and fashion entrepreneurs. Who do you look up to and why?
PM My biggest inspiration has always been my older brother Maurice Marciano. Since the very beginning of our Guess jouney he has been a role model for me for his work ethics, his ensatiable need to always learn, his ability to create strong teams and his strong belief that we would always do what’s right for the logevity of the brand. His strong ideals have always inspired me to excel and alwys push for the best of our brand.
F What do you do in your spare time?
PM My family is my greatest source of happiness and balance. I love spending quality time at home with my family. I also enjoy contemporary art, it’s a passion I share with my brother Maurice, and it’s very fascinating to me discovering new artists from around the world.
F Do you collect anything?
PM I love contemporary and modern art and some of my favorite pieces are in the GUESS headquarters in Los Angeles. I love surrounding my employees with creative works that inspire them and creating a beautiful workspace. Some of my pieces from the collection come from artists like Sterling Ruby, Moriko Mori, Jim Lambie, Chiho Aoshim, Thukral & Tagra, Allora & Calzadilla, and Takashi Murakami.
F What does your home look like?
PM My home is modern yet very inviting and peaceful. The focal point of my house is my kitcehn: this is where i spend most of the time with my family and friends having home made meals.I also love my garden filled with beautiful trees and wordefrul flowers. I absolutely love flowers, especially roses.
F What funny backstage story do you have to tell us?
PM The funniest but yet boldest memories I have is from a GUESS campaign shooting in Seville during a bullfight... without any Guess pieces! What an experience!
„In der Zukunft werden Trends keine Rolle mehr spielen.“