Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



If you've been to any shopping mall, high school parking lot or Jamba Juice lately, you've probably seen someone wearing a T-shirt or hoodie with the words 'HOLLISTER' on it.  And, if you're from Northern California, you might be wondering if the teenagers wearing these latest, coolest threads are from the city of HOLLISTER, which lies about thirty miles inland from beautiful Monterey and scenic Carmel.  To answer this question, our staff spent hours conducting copious amounts of research. Finally, we here at the DUNER BLOG have an answer:  NO!  The two HOLLISTERS are not related.

Let's start with Hollister the city.  The quaint town of 35,000 residents live in a pleasant valley surrounded by rolling hills.  Prior to the launch of the clothing line, the tiny town's only claim to fame was earthquakes.  See, it was built directly on top on the San Andreas Fault line, so Hollister has had more quake epicenters than any other city on earth.  It's named after WILLIAM WELLES HOLLISTER, a famed rancher.  In 1852, this entrepreneur drove 10,000 sheep from Ohio to California.  Although less than a thousand sheep actually made it to Monterey County, Hollister made a fortune as the state's only producer of wool...that is, until the railroads arrived twenty years later...bringing a more efficient way to transport livestock.

Rush Hour in Hollister, California.
Next up: Hollister the clothing line.  Oops, it's not a clothing line...it's a lifestyle brand. It was created by retailer giant ABERCROMBIE & FITCH to compete with such other pseudo-labels like AÉROPOSTAL (not really from France).   To help promote a cool, new image for a clothing line, Manhattan marketing gurus invented a character named John M. Hollister.  Here's his fictional life: Born in Laguna Beach in 1922, he traveled the South Pacific as a youth before returning and "discovering California and himself." To celebrate this epiphany, John M. Hollister began designing surfer-inspired clothing in his small, seaside shack.  Over the years, it has quietly mushroomed into the global brand it is today.  Like...Whoa...Dude!

Although this fantasy marketing scenario seems silly, it is actually incredibly lucrative.  Since the initial launch of the first HOLLISTER CO store in Ohio in 2000, it has multiplied to 578 stores today.  (Not bad for just twelve short years.)  The company boasted $1.5 billion in revenue last year...which was a much better profit than parent company ABERCROMBIE & FITCH.  However, everyone knows that teens are fickle.  In a few short years, HOLLISTER CO will no longer be "cool" and giant retailers will launch a newer...better...lifestyle brand that every teen will like totally need!

All of which brings us back to the original question: How do people in the city of Hollister feel about the clothing line?  Apparently, there is a grass-roots movement brewing to sue the clothing giant.  We tried calling a few residents but instantly ran into problems.  See, today, two-thirds of the population of Hollister, California is Latino.  We had trouble asking complex questions about their feelings en Español.  Which is ironic, because the only reason the city is named after HOLLISTER in the first place was because the white ranchers who settled there were tired of everything else in the area "being named after Saints in Spanish!"   

So...the next time you see someone wearing a HOLLISTER hoodie...just smile and know that they are likely a sheep rancher from Central California who speaks Spanish.

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