Cool brands/products for youth that are no longer cool?
April 21, 2012 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Help me think of examples of brands/products that used to be cool, connected & sought after by youth (let's say 17-25) around the world, but have fallen out of favor.

I'm preparing a project as part of an interview for a marketing job, and my task will be to build a marketing plan to bring this brand/product back to its glory days. No small task! For this reason, I'm looking for things that have some potential for resurrection, rather than brands/products that died for a good reason.
posted by red_rabbit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (51 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Reebok Pump
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:38 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Starter was more popular than Nike for awhile in the 90s. Last time I saw them they were the cut rate workout clothes brand at Wal-Mart.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:40 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by drlith at 4:41 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ocean Pacific.
posted by usonian at 4:42 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

B.U.M. Equipment
posted by verbyournouns at 4:43 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Girbaud jeans.
posted by altopower at 4:44 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Body Shop
posted by crabintheocean at 4:45 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by bleep at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2012

Here's a controversial challenge: Cigarettes.
posted by mannequito at 4:46 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by sciencegeek at 4:53 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by birdherder at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2012

There are very few global brands that lose favor globally. FILA might not be cool in the U.S., but is cool in Albania or France.
posted by k8t at 5:03 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by pecanpies at 5:15 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by box at 5:18 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jordache Jeans. Their marketing history is particularly interesting (topless horse riding and a blimp that crashed!) and after licensing and acquiring other brands (and the resulting woes from that) and even attempting to break into the diaper market, their popularity waned and now Jordache Enterprises supposedly manufactures for more popular brands along with their own line. Their current website features a timeline spanning their thirty years, and yet the 2012 film featuring the current styles at its end still has a faint whiff of roller rinks and combs in back pockets about it.
posted by peagood at 5:23 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Every "old person" grooming product your parents or grandparents use was likely popular with their peers when they were youths.
posted by gjc at 5:24 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by lalala1234 at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jordache! Ah, memories.

How about Nautica? Tommy Hilfiger? The Gap? (I think it was a bit more "on-trend" in the nineties, but I could be wrong).
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:37 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:07 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some great responses here - thanks so much, MeFites! Funny that Reebok Pumps were the first response...that was actually the first thing that popped into my head. Jordache is really interesting, peagood - this is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. It's a company that made waves in the US and Europe (so at least somewhat global), took some risks with both successes and failures...there's meat to their marketing past, which gives more fodder to work with if I'm trying to build their future. What with 80s/90s ridiculousness totally on trend right now, I could potentially build a case to resurrect Jordache. Could be something kind of ironic/trendy about the brand that could catch on again with a playful marketing campaign, perhaps a callback to their weird topless horseback riding campaign is in order?! I think Levi's comeuppance has been really interesting...due in large part to their awesome Go Forth campaign, and Americans being hungry for something familiar/classic in the midst of tumultuous times. I also couldn't help but remember Z Cavarrici's too!! What else do you think people are hungry for right now, given the current political/economic/cultural climate in trendsetting US & Western Europe? Anything that might have promise given the appetite for creating more sustainable products...that's actually cool and not tree-huggery? Thanks so much for the responses!
posted by red_rabbit at 6:16 PM on April 21, 2012

Those hideous Hypercolor brand shirts that changed color when you got warm.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:21 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

L.A. Gear
posted by drezdn at 6:25 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about waterbeds? I don't know whether it was mainly the young demographic that was into them, but it seems like all the 18-25 year-olds I knew in the 80s had one.
posted by lollusc at 6:30 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tamagatchis? (sp?) Or were those just younger kids? What about JNCO jeans? Hemp necklaces?
posted by manicure12 at 6:59 PM on April 21, 2012

Coca Cola had an apparel line that was hot in the '80s and perhaps early '90s?
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:05 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by Occula at 7:26 PM on April 21, 2012

Half the crap in this book.
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:32 PM on April 21, 2012

Jordache was the first thing I thought of too. : )

posted by SisterHavana at 7:39 PM on April 21, 2012

Swatch and Tretorns are rebranding - I've seen the former on style blogs recently and the latter has a swish new flagship in SoHo, NYC. Doc Martens, too.

My contributions:


Sony electronics


Kate Spade - I was just reminiscing today about how, when I moved to New York in 2000, a Kate Spade bag was must-have fashion, whereas now it's just one of many brands and has no particular cache. It might even be a little fusty.
posted by Sara C. at 8:01 PM on April 21, 2012

Pet rocks and mood rings.
posted by misha at 8:12 PM on April 21, 2012

BUM Equipment
posted by radioamy at 8:14 PM on April 21, 2012

Going back to the 80s:

Sperry Topsiders
Guess jeans
Generra (did do the Hypercolor but also tons of other crap too)
K-Swiss sneakers
Tretorn shoes
Swatch watches
posted by mantid at 8:46 PM on April 21, 2012

Sperry, K-Swiss, Tretorn, and Swatch are all hot right now in the US.

Members Only will probably never stage a comeback, though. Or Zubaz.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:53 PM on April 21, 2012

Abercrombie & Fitch [arguable, but at least they are nowhere near the popularity level they maintained in the early 2000's]
Hot Topic
Pukka shell necklaces
Gel Pens
Those Louis Vuitton "LV" bags
Jeans that lace up on the sides or in the front [in lieu of buttons]. Also, Glitter jeans. I believe companies like LEI and LimitedToo cornered the market on those atrocities.
posted by oxfordcomma at 9:03 PM on April 21, 2012

Vuarnet. Man were those shirts cool about 1988.
posted by notsnot at 9:22 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Esprit is still cool in western Europe.
posted by neushoorn at 10:30 PM on April 21, 2012

posted by gentian at 10:51 PM on April 21, 2012


Polaroid definitely had a popular worldwide youth-oriented run from the late 1960s through early 1990s with a series of cameras: Swinger, Colorpack, OneStep.

Members Only.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:27 PM on April 21, 2012

British Knights shoes. You weren't anyone without BK high tops in my school.
You couldn't walk into a room of popular boys without the smell of Drakkar Noir assaulting you.
Vision Street Wear shoes and shirts were for the hott skater boys -- I think both skaters and Vision went out with GLEAMING THE CUBE.
Caboodles was the only way to store makeup and now, well, they're still trying, bless their hearts.
Calvin Klein sells their stuff at Costco now, but were The Sh*t back in the late '80s.
Loves Babysoft may have been popular in the '80s, but I think it's always been cheap crap from Walgreens.

The big one is, of course, Sony for music, but they're stumbling through with the PlayStation 3 OK, even if the Vita is one big disaster. No one in that age group would say the Sony brand itself, however, is cool.
posted by Gucky at 11:36 PM on April 21, 2012

I came in to see if anyone has mentioned Stussy, and was surprised to not see it listed. That and those dumb No Fear shirts were all the rage and you just HAD to own one.
posted by sweetmarie at 12:23 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want to go global, Tecktonik was a dance/fashion craze and brand that was madly popular in France and certain other francophone countries in 2007-9 but now seems to be largely reviled.
posted by Summer at 7:46 AM on April 22, 2012

from where I'm perched --- Ed Hardy/Christian Audigier tattoo/biker/UFC tuff guy shirts boomed about 4yrs ago and now look to be busted.
posted by stavx at 10:54 AM on April 22, 2012

Almost forgot...Von Dutch! It wasn't that long ago that the trucker hats and T-shirts were all over the place.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:48 AM on April 22, 2012

Z Cavaricci or, if you wanna go really old school, Brylcreem.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:31 PM on April 22, 2012

"He wears the finest clothes
The best designers, heaven knows
Ooh, from his head down to his toes
Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci
He looks like a still
That man is dressed to kill"

"In its heyday, a then-unknown Madonna performed at the store (some credit it for launching her career); Keith Haring exhibited his artwork on its walls; Warhol held the launch party for Interview there; and graffiti artist Kenny Scharf held his first solo exhibition there."
"Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias dancing in Fiorucci windows NYC"

"Fiorucci made me hardcore: Mark Leckey's film captures 'the idea that "the best days of your lives" will be wiped away by a change in fashion."

Teen Spirit deodorant?
Wikipedia: "Nonetheless, Mennen wasted no time in taking advantage of the song's popularity. While legal restrictions limited the use of the song and its lyrics in their advertisements, the company made sure to get the point across. With slogans such as "Do you smell like Teen Spirit?" and "Deodorant made for your generation" it was believed that the references to the song would be obvious.[citation needed]

When Mennen was acquired by Colgate-Palmolive in 1992, the Teen Spirit brand was said to be the most popular product of its kind, and was the favorite of nearly 1/4 of all teenage girls [citation needed]. Because of its immense popularity, Colgate-Palmolive planned to begin a new hair care line with the Teen Spirit name. The new hair care products were released in August and sold well, as they were expected to.

Unfortunately for Colgate, the Teen Spirit name began to lose its share of the market, just as the song with the same name started to drop off the charts."

If mainly European brands count: Habitat.

Also: Playboy Magazine (but that's probably too hopeless...).
posted by iviken at 12:57 PM on April 22, 2012

Keds are HUGE right now here in Brooklyn.

In fact, I'd guess that most of the obvious 80's brands are either fully rebranded by now or working on it. It's a little shocking that Benneton and Esprit haven't made bigger comebacks, especially since it should be easy for them to compete with other European fast fashion names like Zara and H&M.

Diesel. The shops still exist, and they might still be big in Europe, but I think the last time I saw anyone in the states wearing it was somewhere around 2006.
posted by Sara C. at 2:41 PM on April 22, 2012

posted by iviken at 4:07 PM on April 22, 2012

Starter jackets, Co-ed Naked t-shirts?
posted by ifjuly at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2012

And those pump sneakers, and kangaroo sneakers with fanciful shoelaces...
posted by ifjuly at 5:23 PM on April 22, 2012

I'm in the UK, so this may vary.


Eclipse (I think that was the brand - embroidered with a spliff-smoking man)

Acupuncture trainers

Benetton (here, too.) Diesel was huge when I was a student (2000-03 but might not be so much now.

Toby Pimlico

Swatch watches


Calvin Klein/Tommy Hilfiger - these are seen as a bit 90s

Never heard of anyone wearing Jordache here, to be honest.
posted by mippy at 6:40 AM on April 23, 2012

For a recent example, Superdry seems to have turned the corner in the last couple of years from a brand worn by students around campus to something worn by their trying-too-hard-to-be-cool thirty- and forty-something professors (like me!).
posted by Jabberwocky at 3:25 PM on April 24, 2012

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