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The History of and Story Behind the Hollister Logo


If you're over the age of 25, your closet probably doesn't have many pieces of Hollister branded clothing in it. But that's ok. Hollister doesn't want your business anyway. This youth-centric clothing brand is aimed squarely at the under-20 demographic. Fortunately, teens these days are a lot richer than they used to be. The brand, which is ranked among the top five clothing brands among teenagers, now has 578 stores across the world and generates over $2 billion in revenue per year. Like most brands, Hollister has a logo. And like most brands that turn themselves into multinational money-spinning machines, it's a logo that's instantly recognizable and as embedded in the brand's identity as its name. If you've ever found yourself wondering about the history and story behind the Hollister logo, then you've come to the right place to find out more.

The History of Hollister

If you want to understand how the Hollister logo fits into the brand's identity, you'll first need to understand a little about the history of the brand. The Hollister story can all be traced back to a young man named John M. Hollister. John was born at the end of the nineteenth century. As a young boy, he spent his summers in Maine, spending his days swimming the cold, clear waters and exploring the coastline. But as much as he was an adventurous boy, he was also a clever one. After he finished high school, he won a place at Yale University. With an Ivy League education to his name, John had his pick of high-flying city jobs to choose from when he graduated. But the cushy lifestyle of a Manhattan banker held no appeal. Instead, he jumped on a boat to Dutch East Indies, where he promptly used the family cash to buy up a rubber plantation. It didn't take him long to meet, fall in love with, and marry a friendly local woman named Meta, nor did it take him too long to decide that what every newly married young couple needs is a fifty-foot schooner. Armed with a wife and a schooner, John set sail around the South Pacific. Eventually, the couple landed in Los Angeles. They liked the city and decided to settle down. A child, John Jr., followed shortly after, as did a shop in Laguna Beach. At first, the shop specialized in the artisanal furniture, jewelry, linens, and artifacts John had encountered in his trip around the South Pacific. When John, Jr. (who was by then an awe-inspiring surfer) came of age and took over the running of the store, he added surf clothing and gear to its inventory. And thus, Hollister was born. Over the next few decades, it grew and it grew until, by the 2000s, it was one of the most recognizable global brands in the teen segment. Except that's not what happened. Well, it grew, but that's about the only thing about the story that's true.

The Truth About Hollister

The thing is, Hollister doesn't really like its own backstory (which basically started in 2000 when sister company Abercrombie & Fitch decided to go after the surfing market). So, they made up a better one. Better a pretty lie than a boring truth, right? As academic director for Oxford Institute of Retail Management, Jonathan Reynolds, tells the BBC, some people might think that Hollister's fanciful version of history is treading a fine line. "To make up a character like that, you'd think, well, that was very deceitful," he says. But as he goes on to explain, creating a myth that customers can engage with is actually just part and parcel of creating a lifestyle brand. As it turns out, none of it really matters anyway. As the BBC goes on to note, when asked their opinion about Hollister's historical license, most of the brand's teen customers couldn't give a hoot.

The Hollister Logo

The Hollister logo has been around as long as the brand itself (by which we mean 20 years, not a century). It features a seagull with spread wings - an image that, according to is intended to conjure up the idea of a peaceful seashore, while simultaneously tapping into the teen market by symbolizing freedom and an unlimited horizon, as well as surfing culture. Beneath the seagull is the company name in thick upper-case letters, followed by the word “California.” The color scheme of the logo changes according to the item of clothing it features on. When used in print, it's usually depicted in maroon, a color that claims is thought to represent joy, courage, and strength, all of which are attributes associated with the fictional Mr. J. Hollister.

The Evolution of the Hollister Logo

The Hollister corporate emblem has barely changed at all over time. It is, however, slightly less ubiquitous than it used to be. When Hollister first hit the scene in the early 2000s, logo-mania was at its peak. People wanted to show off the provenance of their outfits and fashion labels were all too happy to oblige. If a piece of attire didn't show its maker's name loud and proud, it wasn't worth knowing about. For 14 years, the Hollister logo featured on every t-shirt, dress, and pair of pants the company produced. But no trend lasts forever. By 2014, our obsession with logoed clothing was over. Concerned over a slump in sales, Hollister decided to drop its logo from its print and take the brand in a new direction. It worked - sales picked up and Hollister was once again the cream of the crop.

Final Thoughts

Whatever you think of Hollister's fanciful re-imaging of history, you can't deny that it's managed to capture the market in laid back surf wear and teen-friendly clothing. Obviously, not all of Hollister's success can be attributed to a compelling myth, and neither can it be attributed to an equally compelling logo. But neither of those things has exactly hurt, either. Like the brand image, the Hollister logo is fun, vibrant, and laid-back. It might not be elegant or particularly sophisticated, but it doesn't have to be. Hollister is a youth-focused brand and its logo is the same. It might not feature on the brand's garments as prominently as it once did, but it's still as instantly recognizable as it ever was. Which, when all's said and done, is pretty much the point of any logo.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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