A fashion that some who grew up in the 1980s may have forgotten about is Coca Cola clothing. Yes we’re talking about the soda, and yes during the 80s they manufactured clothing, and the clothing was actually quite popular for a while.
Those of us who grew up during that time undoubtedly remember the great cola wars. It was a time when Coke and Pepsi were fighting one another to become the king of colas. Thanks to Pepsi’s blind taste test, it was quickly becoming more popular than Coca-Cola, so Coke responded by releasing its own clothing line.
The Cola Wars Of The 80s
In the early 1970s, Coca-Cola realized that it was going to be difficult to market against PepsiCo. And while they spent a lot of time energy and money on marketing throughout the 70s, PepsiCo still managed to steal a large portion of the cola market.
In 1975, Pepsi started a campaign that sought to do blind taste tests. These taste tests showed more people preferred the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola.
By the 1980s, while Pepsi still had not taken a 50% share of the market, it still posed a great threat which was further compounded by the failure of “New Coke”. Coca Cola at the time was reeling, and the company was desperate to do anything to maintain its market dominance.
As the two cola giants battled one another throughout the 80s, they introduced a number of different products in order to gain and maintain their share of the market. In 1982, Coca-Cola introduced cherry coke which became an instant success, but that still wasn’t enough to secure Coca Cola’s hold on the cola market.
I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke
Coke already knew that they were falling behind in the cola wars as early as 1970. As a result, they reached out to British songwriters Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook to rewrite their popular song, changing “teach” to “buy” and “to sing” to “a Coke.” With the help of The Hilltop Singers, the marketing campaign was a huge success.
The advertisement which featured a catchy song about hope and multiculturalism was exactly what the company needed to surge ahead of the competition. After the success of the advertisement, the complete song was rerecorded and did quite well on the Billboard charts.
However Coca Cola realized they needed more than catchy jingles to stave off the charge from PepsiCo and other competitors. Thus entered their clothing brand in the 1980s.
Coca Cola Clothing In The 80s
While Max Headroom continued to push Coca-Cola over the television, company executives began working with Murijani, to create a line of coke apparel. The company which started a jean craze back in the 1970s had the experience necessary to properly market Coca-Cola merchandise. Murijani reached out to Tommy Hilfiger, who was a new fashion designer at the time, and the rest as they say is history!
Hilfiger used block letters and very bright colors to create a stunning design that featured Coca-Cola as its centerpiece. Even back then, you could see the Tommy Hilfiger style come thru in the Coca Cola clothing that he designed.
In 1985, Tommy Hilfiger was not as popular as he is today. In fact, he was relatively unknown in the fashion industry. Yet he was responsible for creating Coca-Cola’s first-ever apparel collection.
And his designs were an instant success. The most popular design was a long-sleeved rugby-style shirt that came in a number of bright colors which matched the bright neon fashion trends of the 80s.
It was because of his work with Murijani and Coca-Cola, that Tommy Hilfiger built a name for himself in the fashion industry. He would later leave the two companies behind to form his own fashion label, and by the 90s, Tommy Hilfiger jeans and shirts were some of the most popular and sought-after styles of the decade.
Interestingly enough Tommy Hilfiger announced that they were bringing back some of the most popular styles from the 80s Coca Cola clothing he designed, particularly the popular rugby style shirt.
The re-released designs still are fashionable today, and they are a throwback of his early work, and arguably some of the best Coca Cola clothing that has been made over the years.
Is Coca Cola Clothing Still Popular?
Coca Cola clothing today is not as popular as it once was during the 1980s. These days the soda company is a mega corporate juggernaut, and feelings of anti corporatism make these types of clothing unpopular today.
In the 1980s Coca Cola and Pepsi were at war, and the Coca Cola clothing line was launched to promote a company that was still vying to be dominant. However these days Coca Cola is at the top of the hill, and such creative guerilla marketing tactics aren’t as necessary as they were before.
Regardless Coca Cola clothing is still one of the cool fashion trends of the 1980s, and it was fashionable in a time when people took pride in the products and companies they supported.