Opening Ceremony's Bringing Back the Brand You Wore 20 Years Ago

Gina Marinelli

Some of us may cringe when we think about what the so-called “cool kids” wore when we were still young enough to worry about homeroom attendance or PSAT scores. But for the past several months Opening Ceremony has been helping to reintroduce one It brand cool kids (all kids, really) everywhere wore, Esprit, back into our lives. And upon closer inspection, you might agree that the label feels as relevant as ever.

Esprit is recognizable instantly, whether it’s the obvious logo or the impactful prints. And like Opening Ceremony’s cofounder Carol Lim, there might be some fond high school memories attached, too. “My favorite was a two-piece,” she tells us of her own past. “It was a button-down shirt and a capri pant in a woven material. It was fuchsia, had cherry prints all over it, and I just loved it.”

While you technically haven’t been able to find an Esprit store in the U.S. since 2012, its resurgence is now at Lim’s and co-founder Humberto Leon’s own groundbreaking shopping destination. The team debuted the first collection in the fall and have launched the second iteration this week. There are no cherries this time, however, the new Esprit offerings still feature bold and colorful prints—florals and stripes mostly—in effortless head-to-toe combinations that can be worn as a complete outfit or blended with your existing go-to wardrobe.

Lim says she hopes shoppers are instantly pulled by the aesthetics, but it’s Esprit’s story that’s the true point of attraction. “It really was a pivotal brand in fashion history. It was started by this couple, who also started The North Face,” Lim tells us about Susie Tompkins Buell and the late Douglas Tompkins. “They were one of the first to think about sustainability; the whole ethos of the brand is around how do you have supportive relationships with your manufacturers. They wanted to take care of the earth. They were global citizens of the world.”

Anyone who owned a fashion magazine in the ’90s will understand Lim’s last point. You may also remember how Esprit most notably cast non-models for its campaigns, a daring move in the ’80s and ’90s. “That definitely spoke to Humbert and me,” Lim tells us while among the racks of new designs available in stores and online now. “I think people want to be attached to a brand that’s supportive of all types of people. It makes me want the clothing even more.”

Scroll down for a look at the OC’s own Esprit campaign, featuring Coco Gordon Moore, Arsun Sorrenti, and other individuals who inspired Lim and Leon. Then shop some favorites from the old-school brand.

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