We don’t hear much about Benetton in the US these days, but the Italian clothing retailer is still going strong. Benetton is well known for its quality, colourful casual clothing, and ultra daring advertising campaigns. Their ad slogan the “United Colours of Benetton” has both deeply literal and political meaning. The focus of this post is not to delve into their controversial ad campaigns, but rather to celebrate the vibrance of their merchandise assortment.
Benetton has been around since the ‘60s, but caught my eye as a teen in the ‘80s. With my love of bright colours I was absolutely mesmerized by Benetton stores. I would walk in and sigh a happy, happy sigh, admiring their impeccable piles of brightly coloured merchandise, and wishing it was mine. The way they styled and remixed their colourful looks was so inspiring to me.
As a teen I had an extremely small wardrobe. I wore a school uniform daily, and was in horse-riding clothes most of the weekend, which left very little time and need for regular clothes. I didn’t end up getting anything from Benetton when I was at high school because my parents thought it was too pricey for the purpose it would serve in my wardrobe. My frugal Dad thought that Benetton prices were ridiculous for his teenage daughter. My fashion-conscious Mum, on the other hand, completely understood the appeal. She suggested I ask for a Benetton piece for my birthday. But for birthdays and Christmas, I asked for horse-riding gear that was more important to me. So I tried to pull together the Benetton look-for-less with whatever I could find that was in keeping with what my Dad thought was a reasonable price for teenage attire. It worked quite well, and I was happy. As much as I loved fashion, I loved my horse and horse riding more.
All good things come to those who wait.
As a young adult, I waitressed throughout my four years at University, which gave me some disposable income and a lot of independence. Some of my budget went to my first Benetton pieces. FINALLY in 1988, I was able to wear a brand that I had coveted for so long. It felt fabulous, but not euphoric. I learned that I was quite happy putting together my own Benetton-look-for-less with cheaper items, and that hot brands weren’t everything. That said, it felt awfully good to pay for my Benetton pieces myself, and get my dream purchases out of my system. I bought Benetton pieces for many years, remixing them with all sorts of other items.
I have very fond memories of Benetton merchandising, and the way they styled their outfits in ads and shop windows. It had a profound influence on my style back then, and still does today. In fact, I can’t think of any retailer that influenced and shaped my own style more than Benetton. Being the nostalgic and sentimental type, I thought it would be fun to get some Benetton pieces back into my wardrobe. I’m not sure which pieces, but will keep you posted.
Do you have fond memories of Benetton? What is the “Benetton” in your style evolution?