Most of the fashion brands we hold most dear to our hearts have names so ubiquitous, so seemingly omnipresent, that we take them for granted. But in fact, there once existed a world before brands like Burberry, J.Crew, and Rodarte were born—we're not saying it's a world we'd want to time-travel to, but it did in fact exist.
Most of these brands have very interesting creation stories surrounding the names of their lines. ASOS is actually an acronym, and Rodarte stems from something very dear to the hearts of its creators, Kate and Laura Mulleavy. These stories have largely gone untold—until now.
Keep scrolling to learn the fascinating creation stories behind some of fashion's biggest brand names!
The name ASOS stands for “as seen on screen.” This title was created because the business was originally intended for people to shop what celebrities were wearing. The business was immediately abbreviated to “ASOS” by users. This inspired the staff to officially change the name, which benefited the company in the long run because it shifted from selling more products than had been “seen on screen.” Thus, the name ASOS was born.
Phillip Lim was inspired with a name for his company by his friendship with his business partner, Wen Zhou. Phillip Lim started his line when both partners were 31 years old—hence 3.1 Phillip Lim.
Acne Studios was originally a branch off of ACNE (an acronym for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions”), a creative collective company that focused on film, production, advertising, and graphic design. When the collective company branched out into separate entities, Acne Studios was born.
This line was created by two former classmates at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002, Stacey Bendet and Rebecca Matchett. The two decided to name their brand after their mothers, Alice and Olivia. Matchett left the company a year later, and the name was changed to Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet.
Max Azria named his brand for the phrase “bon chic, bon genre,” which means “good style, good attitude.” This title was intended to embody European sophistication and American spirit.
Burberry was the original name of the brand, when its first store opened in 1856. The company switched to the title Burberry’s because customers were referring to it as “Burberry’s of London.” Much later, in 1998, the name was changed back to Burberry for marketing purposes.
The name J.Crew was chosen purely for aesthetics. The man who started the company liked to row, so he decided on the word “crew” to be featured in his company’s name. He thought the letter “J” looked nice in front of “crew,” so he chose the name we all know now.
In 2007, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen created the contemporary brand Elizabeth and James. Their original idea for the naming of their brand was to combine a male and female name. They chose the Elizabeth and James and then later realized the title reflected the names of their little brother and sister. What a coincidence!
Elizabeth and James Andrew Fold-Over Fringe Clutch Bag ($545)
The fashion house has remained in the family since its founding in 1913, when it began selling leather goods with the name Fratelli Prada (“Prada Brothers”). The house was taken over by Mario Prada’s daughter, who then passed it on to her daughter, Miuccia. Miuccia launched Prada’s sister brand and named it Miu Miu after her childhood nickname.
Ralph Lauren is a brand name created by Ralph Lauren, whose last name isn’t even Lauren. Ironic, right? Ralph Lauren’s actual last name was Lifshitz, which he changed when he was 16 years old because he was bullied for having the word “sh*t” in his name.
The original company was named Tiffany, Young, and Ellis. However, when Charles Tiffany established a firm emphasis on jewelry in 1853, the company underwent a name change to Tiffany & Company.