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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with THE CO-FOUNDER OF GUESS PAUL MARCIANO

Paul Marciano

Paul Marciano was born in 1952 in Debdou, Morocco to a Jewish family and raised in Marseilles, France with his four siblings: Georges, Armand, Maurice and Jacqueline.

He comes from a long family of rabbis.  His father was a rabbi in Marseilles from 1954 until about 1986. They grew up in an apartment inside a synagogue complex and the Jewish Boy Scouts (Éclaireurs Israelites de France) which all of the brothers were members – were under
the synagogue.

At 15, Paul and a friend were involved in a motorcycle accident when they were crushed by a speeding vehicle. After being told he would never walk again, he spent seven months in a wheelchair.  He eventually regained full use of his limbs after a year and a half but was not re-accepted into school due to his long absence. Unable to finish his education, he traveled to Israel to live in a kibbutz…

When Paul was 17 he came back to Marseilles and started working as a salesman in a jeans store, and on Saturdays and Sundays, he worked in a club checking coats alongside his brothers Georges –who was at the front door and Maurice – who was at the bar.


Paul and his brothers left France in 1981 for a few reasons, including a tax dispute with the French officials and anti-Semite. They did so while barely knowing how to speak English. Maurice was the only one who spoke it because he learned it at school.

Guess started in December 1981 by Georges and Maurice first. Meanwhile, Armand and Paul were managing the retail operations of MGA- that had 4 stores in the USA.
They joined Guess a couple of months later.

The name Guess came to Georges while the brothers were driving to work together, like they did every day, and saw a huge billboard that said “GUESS what’s in the new big mac?” The biggest word was Guess, and that’s how Georges came up with the name. Maurcio came up with the question mark.

In 1982 Paul and Armand joined their brothers. That’s when Paul decided to do the advertising for the company. He started with a low budget and the help of his friends.

In just one year, sales came up to $6M

Guess grew very fast and in 1984 Jordache offered them to become partners and they agreed. From then on things didn’t work out with the partnership with Jordache and in 1989, after a long legal feud, a California superior court jury found that Jorsache and the owners had fraudulently lured the Marcianos into the transaction. They separated forces in 1990.

In 1993 Paul became the president and chief operating officer of the company.

In August 2015, Paul Marciano stepped down as the CEO of Guess. He became Executive Chairman and remained Guess’ chief creative officer.

The Marciano Art Foundation was established by Maurice and Paul Marciano, and it’s a non-profit arts foundation.
The museum opened on May 25, 2017 as an exhibition space to display their 1,500-piece collection of contemporary art.
The museum located on Wilshire Boulevard in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

 

INTERVIEW

Guess the company is approaching its 37th anniversary. What does that milestone mean to you? 

It means that my dream came true. I believed from the first moment that GUESS will be a brand that will inspire others for many years. And here I am, 37 years later.it feels like we only started it yesterday.

 

How did you and your brothers first come up with the name “Guess” for your company?

After me and my brothers moved to California from France, we used to drive to work together. While driving in Los Angeles we came across a huge billboard by McDonald’s, the word “Guess” was the biggest word there- and my brother Georges said this should be the name of our company.

 

There are so many younger designers out there now… are there any you think have the potential to build a Guess-scale business?


Yes, I won’t mention their names but if they will continue to work hard and be creative they can do it. There is a place for more successful fashion brands.

 

Which is harder to find, good design talent or good management talent?

lol, both.

 

Have you ever considered investing in other fashion businesses?

 No, I’ve always been focusing on GUESS, and when I had the time, I created another fashion business called MARCIANO. This brand is my baby and it’s for a woman who appreciates fashion forward and looks to enhance her appearance. She also looks for high-quality designs and materials with her purchases and will not compromise.

 

You’ve accomplished so much. Can you articulate of what you’re most proud? 

 I started from selling ties from the back of the car and from there to become an influencer in the fashion world. I’m happy my brothers and I could accomplish the American dream and I specifically making my mark in the advertising world- enjoying every day at work.


Tell us more about Marciano Art Foundation?

 The MAF is a contemporary art space in the heart of Los Angeles.

I am passionate about art and want to share such forward-thinking and dynamic artworks with the world. It was founded by my brother Maurice and myself.

Our engagement with contemporary art developed through visits to galleries and auctions in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. Early on we were drawn to the work of painters such as Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, and Sam Francis. We began spending time with artists in their studio and experienced the joy of learning about art directly from the artists creating it.

In 2013, we bought the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard with the vision to transform it into a contemporary art foundation.

 

By opening our collection to the public, it is our hope that the public will be inspired to appreciate and engage in the transformative power of contemporary art.

 

 

You will find more information about Paul here:

Visit Paul Marciano Website

Visit Paul Marciano Youtube Channel

Visit Paul Marciano Linkedin Channel

 

 

Editor
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