From June 25 to July 4, we'll be examining — and at times, celebrating — all things American made, from the state of U.S. apparel manufacturing to American-born models on the rise. You can follow all of our coverage here.
If you're a regular reader of this site, you already know we keep a close watch on fashion brands' ad campaigns. The images are often pretty and feature some of our favorite models and celebrities, but it's not lost on us that the true point of them is to sell clothing. That said, some advertisements are so memorable and powerful that they're referenced to this day, leaving a lasting impression on an industry that's known for how frequently its trends change.
Since we're focusing this week on all of the great things that are made in the USA, we decided to take a look back at some of these classic campaigns from all-American brands. From the Brooke Shields denim campaign that had tongues all over the world wagging, to the ensemble Gap ads that were unavoidable in the '90s (and so damn catchy), read on for 12 iconic campaigns that still live fondly in our memories — and on our Pinterest boards.
Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, 1981
When Shields, just 16 years old at the time, made the breathy confession that "nothing" came between her and her Calvins, she probably had no clue that her slogan would go down in history as one of the most recognizable (and sexiest) campaigns in fashion history.
Cindy Crawford for Pepsi, 1992
We know, this campaign technically has nothing to do with fashion (aside from the fact that it stars the ultimate American supermodel Cindy Crawford), but this look — Crawford's tight white bodysuit and high-waisted denim — has been referenced so many times by designers, editors, stylists and photographers that we'd be remiss not to include it. Also, the fact that women all over are flocking to vintage denim this season is a true testament to how classic this style is.
Kate Moss and Marky Mark for Calvin Klein, 1992
This memorable Calvin Klein ad from the early '90s, featuring bad boy Marky Mark and a teenaged Kate Moss, is extra relevant right now, as the brand seems to be going for a similar aesthetic — with Justin Bieber, Lara Stone and Kendall Jenner baring their skivvies to attract younger consumers. A couple of years ago, Moss admitted that this shoot nearly caused her to have a nervous breakdown, but it sure did help to make her internationally famous.
Donna Karan, 1992
This groundbreaking, editorial-like campaign was the first to depict a woman on the campaign trail for president and included the slogan "in women we trust" on its closing page. While the concept may have felt a little out-there a couple of decades ago, it's eerily appropriate for the upcoming election — and we won't be at all surprised if Hillary Clinton is spotted in Donna Karan a time or two.
Anna Nicole Smith for Guess, 1993
While Anna Nicole Smith was not the first Guess girl, she's one of the most memorable. The late model's work for the denim brand helped skyrocket her to stardom and yielded one of the most iconic ad campaigns of all time. Guess has helped launch the careers of countless women — from Claudia Schiffer to Kate Upton to Gigi Hadid — and working with the American brand is still considered to be one of the most prestigious bookings out there.
Bridget Hall for Polo Ralph Lauren, 1996
For over three decades, Ralph Lauren's ads have painted an aspirational picture of American life. From the classic, well-tailored clothing to the focus on sport (sailing, horseback riding and fishing, for instance) and travel, the brand's campaigns haven't changed much over the years. They still focus on a well-bred, preppy and monied customer who's after the dream he's selling. White picket fence not included.
The Gap, the 1990s
Long before "normcore," there were these classic ensemble ads that Gap became known for throughout the '90s. Not only were the print ads diverse, colorful and lots of fun, but the TV spots, full of song and dance, were catchy as hell. "Mellow Yellow," anyone?
Abercrombie and Fitch, 2000s
No one captures Americana quite like Bruce Weber, whose ads for preppy mall brand Abercrombie & Fitch were incredibly popular in the late '90s and early '00s. Featuring shirtless hunks, beautiful, sun-kissed blonde models and the occasional celebrity-to-be — including Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift and Olivia Wilde — Weber's images really set the standard for a classic, all-American aesthetic. Unfortunately, their lack of diversity and sexual undertones ended up getting the brand into some trouble down the road.
Sofia Coppola for Marc Jacobs, 2002
The Juergen Teller-lensed campaigns that Marc Jacobs has released over the years are instantly identifiable, have been frequently copied and have helped to define the brand's aesthetic — especially in the 2000s. Jacobs featured the likes of Dakota Fanning, Winona Ryder and Victoria Beckham in his ads during the decade, but the fragrance campaign featuring his friend and longtime muse Sofia Coppola is arguably the most iconic, at least within fashion circles. How fitting, then, that Jacobs brought both Ryder and Coppola back for his fall 2015 campaign.
Tommy Hilfiger, 2010
One of the country's most quintessentially preppy companies — the American flag is basically part of its branding — has made some highly memorable ads: There was the one modeling a game of Hangman that directly names its competitors and another starring celebrities like Aaliyah and Kate Hudson. However, the designer's "Meet the Hilfigers" ads, which debuted in 2010, perfectly encapsulates the label's lifestyle brand approach. That "family" aspect is now a Hilfiger campaign signature.
American Apparel, mid-2000s/early 2010s
American Apparel is going through some tough times at the moment, but in its heyday, the hipster, "porn chic" advertisements from the brand were the talk of the industry and beyond. The oft-controversial images never failed to make a very loud statement, but their blatant sexuality not only offended many potential customers, but it also helped to unravel the story behind American Apparel's unsavory corporate culture, headed up by founder Dov Charney.
Kate Moss for Supreme, 2012
Long before Joan Didion for Céline went viral, this Supreme ad featuring Kate Moss became inescapable on the Internet and IRL (it was plastered all over downtown New York), making it instantly iconic. The New York-based skate brand is one of the most frequently copied and lusted-after labels among young men and women in the know, and we have a feeling that this image will be referenced and remembered for years to come.