Pentagram Helps Revive Esprit And Creates A Typeface Based On Their Iconic Wordmark
by Bill McCool on 04/29/2020 | 3 Minute Read
If you were a child of the 80s, you’re deeply familiar with the name-brand fashions of the era. Likely, you had an older brother or sister that rocked Lacoste or United Colors of Benetton, and the volume of sheer color blinded you so terribly that you couldn’t flip through your nearly completed set of Garbage Pail Kids without needing a moment (or fainting chair) so you could refocus your eyesight.
So consider my feathered mullet tickled when I found out that not only was Esprit still alive and kicking, but that Pentagram was helping to revive the famed brand and bring them back from the dead.
Most considered Esprit as the ultimate California lifestyle brand, and founders Doug Tompkins and Susie Russel even sold their wares from the back of their VW bus when they first started. The clothing empire and their colorful garb became emblematic of the 80s, a casual fashion line that could merit a soulful monologue from Patrick Bateman about the virtues of branded apparel and oversized sweaters. By 2011, the famed brand lost 90% of its global valuation, and in recent years, its new CEO Anders Kristiansen has tried to help bring them back to prominence.
Led by Natasha Jen, the team at Pentagram honed in on the brand’s three core attributes—joyful, authentic, and effortless—-as well as their vibrant use of color. For inspiration, they went back to the source of Esprit’s memorable branding, the one thing that set them apart from so many Jordache’s and Gitano’s—the logo.
Pentagram created a typeface based on John Casado’s iconic logo drafted up in 1979. According to their design brief, the “team redrew the wordmark for consistency, refined an existing uppercase font, and then developed a lowercase font, as well as numbers and glyphs. Upper and lower cases can now be mixed in typography for messaging that captures the spirit of the brand. The redrawn logo is the basis of new bespoke brand patterns, and the designers also created a new monogram that merges the ‘E’ and ‘S” for use on more exclusive product lines.”
Additionally, the identity carries a variable font, one that the brand can dial up if necessary across all of their social channels and touchpoints, whether it needs to be bold or lean and refined.
Bespoke typefaces aside, Pentagram also introduced a color wheel to their branding that includes 72 colors, each of which comes in three levels: shade, pure, and tiny. The brand can employ these colors in a systemic fashion—that way each shade complements the other across any marketing campaign or seasonal release.
Along with the color wheel, there’s also the branding guide Esprit can now use across their visual identity, from hangtags and packaging right on down to the buttons that adorn their clothing.
So, is Esprit really back? That’s tough to say, but it's hard not to fall back in love with them when Pentagram’s revitalized identity draws upon the brand’s distinct visual strengths. Now if I can only get back to the malls of my youth.
Olberding Brand Family
Olberding Brand Family
Technical Color Manager