Everyone has memories of those iconic brands that marked our childhood, and for Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, that brand was Esprit. The Northern California-based line was a favorite not only for its style, but also for what the brand represented outside of its aesthetics. “It’s one of the first brands that we remember speaking about something larger than just fashion,” they recall. That vision had a lasting impact on the pair.
“Most brands search for storytelling and authenticity, but with Esprit, it was part of their heritage from the start,” note Carol and Humberto. Esprit began as a clothing line established by Susie Buell and Doug Tompkins in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s. It was the height of the hippie-era, and they jump started their business by selling dresses out of the back of their VW bus. Over the next several decades they grew the business dramatically, but still held onto their core principles. Esprit wasn’t just about clothing, it was about community.
The idea of community extended to every aspect of the Esprit experience: from the moment you stepped into one of their stores, you were part of the tribe. “Esprit inspired us to think about the details,” Carol and Humberto remember. “From the immersive store designs and the different artists and creatives they collaborated with, to creating custom totes that people could reuse, it was all part of the Esprit world—and they invited everyone to join.” The brand also used their platform to promote social consciousness, from the early ‘90s “What Would You Do?” TV spots that encouraged young people to talk about the issues that mattered most, to constructing their San Francisco offices out of sustainable materials. The Esprit ethos was all about getting things done, and having fun while doing it.
And now, Opening Ceremony is excited to share those ideals with the next generation. “We wanted to incorporate the codes of the brand, but in a modern way,” Carol and Humberto explain. “It has the original Esprit energy of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but we’ve updated things with innovative fabrics, unisex styles, and multi-functional pieces that are all very OC.” The women's and men’s collections include bold prints, graphic tees, cozy outerwear, athletic-inspired staples, and of course, lots of iconic Esprit logo gear—it embodies everything we want this time of year, clothing that’s cozy and conscious. There couldn’t be a better time to bring back the spirit of Esprit.