Esprit – the online shop of Esprit for men and women and the young fashion brand “edc” are probably familiar to you. But did you know what’s behind it? And how did the famous “Esprit arena”, a football stadium in Düsseldorf, come about? The story began in the USA. A married couple sold clothes out of the trunk of their car. Over the years Esprit developed into a very common fashion brand. The basic idea from the beginning was fashion for everyone. To bring this to the public, they even advertised with the faces of their normal co-workers. You can read more about the background here.
Esprit: What makes the brand stand out?
It all started with a married couple. They sold clothes out of the trunk of their station wagon in the late 60s. Through clever advertising campaigns they expanded their young company more. In the meantime, this idea has become a world-famous fashion brand.
The basic idea has remained the same. Quality and fair fashion for everyone. This includes women’s and men’s fashion in all walks of life. This idea is particularly clear in the early fashion campaigns. There, advertising was done with the company’s own employees. These were completely normal people and are thus closer to the masses than glossy models.
Whether in the sale, with a voucher or simply in the outlet, the dresses and bikinis are particularly popular today. So if you’re looking for some suggestions and an overview of the rest of the range, you’ll find that here too!
Lust for life: History of the brand
The name of the company “Esprit” means lively and witty talking or performing. It was probably chosen to express the joy of life. This naming also fits the reality of life in the founding era. You can find out why here!
Launch of the brand: A love story
In 1963 Susie Russell met her future husband. Doug Tompkins was still a hitchhiker at the time and traveled alone, or as an occasional passenger, on the roads of the USA. At some point, the two met while Susie was traveling through the US state of California in a small, red Beetle. The two immediately fell in love with each other. Therefore, the year 1968 was the start of Esprit. From then on, the two sold self-sewn clothes out of the trunk of their station wagon.
In the same year, the prominent logo with the three crossbars as the letter “E” was designed. Later, the initially colorful logo was relaunched in red.
- 1963: Lovers meet
- From 1968: self-sewn clothes from combi
- 1968: Design logo
Love, Peace & Harmony: Motto of the 60s
But what made Esprit’s clothes so special? The style of their clothes was close to the zeitgeist of the late 60s.
Colourful, authentic and with a family attitude. Colorful for the freedom that was missing in society.
For many young people at this time were dissatisfied, feeling constrained by the strict rules of the post-war period. Also, some political systems had retained their wartime leaders and changed little for the better. Responsibility for war crimes was not accepted. In the wake of the well-known 68 movement, issues such as environmentalism, feminism and social fairness for all came to the fore. So it was time for revolution and a new attitude to life.
As members of this generation, the two founders were concerned with taking responsibility. In contrast to the cheaply produced post-war products, they wanted to provide quality for the customers. Therefore, they invested in sustainability and produced a collection with organic cotton long before the trend.
- Clothing: colorful, authentic & family attitude
- Inspired by ’68 movement: Environmentalism, feminism and social fairness for all.
- Responsibility for planets and people: invested in sustainability & produced with organic cotton
Colourful and angular: Almost Picasso’s pinnacle
In addition to the social aspect, the interior design of the stores is also making history.
This began with the first store in Germany in 1986.
There, the interior design by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass was particularly polarizing. He is known for his anti-design, which is reminiscent of Picasso’s cubist paintings. So colorful and fancy, but angular shapes.
For a clothing store, such an interior design was absolutely novel. It was one of the first branches outside America. For the time being, however, only sports fashion for a young target group was offered here.
- 1986: first store in Germany
- Special & novel interior design: colorful, unusual & angular shape
- First sports fashion
Message: Advertising with people for people
A year later, Esprit hit the headlines again as the founders publicly addressed the AIDS crisis in a campaign. A social problem that slowly but surely leaked out that more people than just certain groups of people are at risk of infection. Close to the daily concerns of the population. This also shows that closeness to life is important to the label.
Another example would be that they often used their own employees as advertisers. This way they push the trend of people advertising – normal people, instead of highly polished models. Nowadays this topic has been brought up again, you can watch the “#ImPerfect” chapangne here, which deals with this very topic again:
Divorce with a happy ending: brand continues to grow nevertheless
In 1989, the founding couple divorced. A year later, Tompkins took over the worldwide business and Russel the US business. The following years saw further internal restructuring, but the brand continued to grow rapidly. Submarkets from Asia and Europe moved closer again to the American original, and the headquarters were moved to Düsseldorf. It is now in the German city of Ratingen.
Convenient and accessible: online shop, app and edc
The first online shop was added in 1998 and it still exists today. In fact, there is now even an app for it. So if you’re looking for some novelties and offers from the comfort of your home, you’ll definitely find them there. Also this year they released the youth brand “edc by Esprit”, which you might have heard of.
After the contract with the old sponsor of today’s Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf expired, Esprit temporarily took over as sponsor. In 2008, the contract with one of the ten largest football stadiums in the country came into being. This lasted with an interruption until 2018, but the name “Esprit arena” is still a household name for many people today.
- 1998: Online shop
- 2008-2018: Sport is important: sponsoring the arena
Esprit today: numerous branches and outlets
Today you can find the brand in over 150 stores and outlets. But also big companies like Amazon and Galeria Kaufhof sell the brand. For discounts, the newsletter and special services, there is the Esprit Friend Club, which you can sign up for on the website. The message of the brand has remained similar, the brand offers essentials for everyday life.
Facts: Everything at a glance
Here again the story for you at a glance:
- 1963: Founders Susie Russell and Doug Tompkins meet
- 60s: statement close to the zeitgeist: Colorful, authentic and with family attitude
- 1968: Fial opening with a special design
- 1969: AIDS campaign
- 1989: Divorce founder and restructuring
- 1998: Online shop and publication “edc
- 2008-2018: Sponsoring Stadium in Düsseldorf
- Today: 150 branches and outlets
Clothes: Fashion by Esprit!
The brand offers all fashion essentials for men and women. Every form of comfortable everyday fashion can be found at Esprit. If you are unsure whether the fashion fits you, the website of the label even offers a size chart, from women and men to children. As an urban fashion label, the brand also caters to your individual needs and life situations. This includes, for example, large sizes or also called Curvy and maternity fashion, which is sold under the keyword Maternity.
Especially popular: Dress & Skirt
The dresses often have casual cuts and are monochrome or have floral patterns. On the website, the Californian brand advertises its dresses as real all-rounders. There are different lengths divided into mini, medi and maxi dresses. A style guide that suggests the right dresses for your body shape is also offered on the website.
Besides these rather everyday dresses, you will also find more elegant evening dresses under festive dresses. For more casual looks, there are different styles of shift dresses, denim dresses, denim skirts, linen dresses, summer dresses and wrap dresses. In addition, there are not only these different styles for different body shapes and tastes, but also maternity dresses for expectant mothers, for example. So this wide selection offers you possibilities to adapt your fashion to your everyday life as you need it.
Summer essential: bikini
Another essential item is the swimwear and especially the bikini. Here, too, you will find colourful flower prints or geometric striped patterns. The bikinis convince less with fancy cuts, but offer comfort for different body shapes. Again, there is a helpful style guide on the website to help you decide what suits you best.
As well as the classic two-piece bikinis, the label also offers tankinis that combine the advantages of one-piece and two-piece suits and swimsuits. There are also stand-up dresses and accessories so that you are perfectly equipped for summer, sun, beach and pool.
Stylish everyday fashion: tops, jackets & sports
The brand’s linen blouses are particularly popular, but it also offers hoodies, sweaters, polo shirts, T-shirts and vests for men and women.
For your outfit in the cold seasons you might find the right complement among the denim jackets and coats. Denim jackets as a casual classic for warmer days and coats for elegant looks. These are also available in a wide range of designs from check patterns to bold colours.
In sports, the versatile yoga items for women are especially popular. These are mainly in relaxing purple tones. There are also dynamic designs and accessories that support you during your workout.
For underneath: shoes & trousers
Especially the summer shoes like espadrilles, mules, sandals and toe separators like flip flops, these for men and women, are very much in demand. With these you are well equipped for your summer days. The brand promises a comfortable appearance and safe gait in their shoes.
Whether it’s a wide cut culotte, linen trousers, a jumpsuit or tight-fitting leggings, the label also offers you a wide selection here. Of course, there are also casual jeans and summery shorts for men and women.
Accessories: Watches for ladies and co.
As a label for mostly essentials, Esprit also offers a wide range of accessories that you can combine with your outfits. While we’re showing you a women’s watch now, there are also plenty of men’s accessories in the range, such as watches, belts and sunglasses.
Versatile jewellery: watches
For the watches of the label functionality and individuality are in the first place. Especially with the ladies’ watches it is addressed that the watch should be a practical addition in everyday life, matching the personal style of every woman. Therefore you can choose between different sizes, colors and materials.
For example, there are colored plastic bracelets or bracelets made of metal links, like this one:
Bag: Handbags & Shopper with Logo
Besides purses, wallets and shoulder bags, the label also sells handbags marked with the company’s logo. One of these very famous totes is shown below. This one was released as part of the “Opening Ceremony” collection with a retro look from the 80s.
Home: All the essentials for the home!
In addition to all the clothing, many items for your home are also available in the home section. These include bed linen, curtains, towels, rugs and even wallpaper.
Here you can see an interior design example for a chic and comfortable living room:
Many other fashion brands: XXL List
Are you excited about Esprit and want to get to know more brands? Then take a look at our XXL Guide and get to know the top fashion brands in the world.
Extravagant haute couture. Refined prêt-à-porter. Fine sportswear and innovative accessories. The world’s most luxurious fashion brands inspire millions of people and fashion lovers with their exquisite collections every year. They camp out in front of stores to snag limited edition specials, stand on the streets of Paris during the highly coveted Fashion Week, and sit wide-eyed in front of televisions to watch the latest and hippest runway shows. Here is the ultimate fashion brand guide.