Are YOU a member?
The 80s. The number that symbolises so much – from blaring colours and experimental chaos to nostalgic nuances of a time that propelled youth pop culture to where it is today. For those who experienced this era, the heavy fashion influences reign most memorable. Names like Esprit, Sergio Valente, Chuck Taylors and Jordache Jeans were some of the most well-loved during this time, however, there was a brand that was a little different in regards to publicity and that brand was ‘Members Only’.
Members Only was founded in New York 1975 by Jaggi Singh and offered a line of jackets that were first introduced to American markets in 1981. During this time was the American ideological shift to consumerism and materialism, in which Members Only was quick to take advantage of, putting forward their tagline “When you put it on, something happens”. This marketing created a sense of exclusivity and as a result, everyone wanted to be a part of this ‘club’. The brand made sure to emphasize the fact that ‘you were either a member or you weren’t’.
The brand took off and became such a hit, it was making 100 million in sales by 1984; a colossal amount in that period. Unlike other brands that used celebrity endorsements to promote their products, Members Only became so successful that they actually grew bored with this mainstream process, and so turning to social issues to ‘make their mark’. Millions of dollars were invested in campaigns such as the 1986 ad on anti-drug use and the pro-voting campaign during the 1988 election which featured Adolf Hitler. These defying decisions were risky but it worked and sales increased 15%.
Clever marketing and risk taking ultimately made Members Only one of the most recognised and memorable brands in the 80s, and for a brand that only made jackets, that was quite the achievement.