Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hollister branding 'fictitious'

Abercrombie & Fitch
Hollister is part of the same retail group as Abercrombie & Fitch

One of Britain's fastest growing retail chains uses a date on its clothing labels with no historical foundation, a BBC investigation has found.

US fashion brand Hollister uses logos and labels bearing the date 1922, but the company was only founded in 2000.

The brand story behind Hollister is also fictitious, the BBC's You and Yours has learnt.

Hollister - which is the sister chain of US clothing group Abercrombie & Fitch - has declined to comment.

According to Hollister branding, the 1922 date refers to a John Hollister senior.

Due to our policies regarding press we choose not to provide any comment on your questions
Hollister spokesman

He was an adventurous traveller and water sports fan, who rejected a life in New York and headed to the Dutch East Indies where he bought a rubber plantation and fell in love.

When he returned to the USA in 1919, Mr Hollister settled in California where he established the Hollister company three years later.

The BBC's You and Yours asked Hollister to explain its fictitious history, but the company has refused to comment.

"Due to our policies regarding press, we choose not to provide any comment on your questions," a spokesman said.

'Moot point'

Hollister is famously reticent and reluctant to give interviews, analysts say.

Jonathan Reynolds, academic director at the Oxford Institute of Retail Management, said some people might consider Hollister to be treading a fine line.

"To make up a character like that, you'd think, well, that was very deceitful. In fact it is only part of creating a lifestyle brand, a kind of cultural myth that consumers can really engage with," he said.

"It's a moot point. Yes, you might think they've overstepped a line."

But teenage shoppers interviewed by You and Yours seemed to be oblivious to the historical licence taken by the stores - and most said they were unconcerned when they were told about it.

The US clothing company, which has stores in London, Kent, Manchester and Sheffield, is rapidly expanding across the UK, with new stores expected soon in Liverpool, Bristol and Milton Keynes.

Hollister is not the only brand in the retail group to have invented its history.

The underwear brand Gilly Hicks is dated 1932, but in fact it only launched in 2008.

You can listen again to BBC Radio 4's You and Yours, broadcast at 1200 on Monday, 9 November 2009, at BBC iPlayer .

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