Remembering Herb Goldsmith, Creator of the Members Only Jacket
Apparel companies enjoy the opportunity to help wearers stand out through innovative designs, but along with presenting distinctive items, Herb Goldsmith complemented his creations by christening them with a brand name that abounded in confidence: Members Only. Over the weekend, the world learned that the innovator died Feb. 22, falling to lymphoma at age 92.
“The single most important factor in planning my advertising and marketing strategies was the realization that fashion is show business" https://t.co/KME1XadrJ5
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) March 15, 2020
Tributes to the New York-born icon have begun to hit the news cycle, reinforcing for his admirers and revealing to those unfamiliar with his work that Goldsmith loved being a men’s outerwear pioneer. Those in-memoriam pieces have been noting that his legacy stems not only from giving the public attire that the New York Times dubbed a conveyor of “quality and exclusivity,” but also for coupling his advertisements with calls to pay mind to crucial social issues, with drug addiction being a particularly pressing matter to tackle.
With respect to his creative output, Goldsmith won plaudits for “putting things together that didn’t look like they made sense, and producing something that was very special,” according to a Washington Post quote from Ron Finestone, who served as the merchandising director for the forerunner of the Members Only brand, Europe Craft Imports. That commitment to craftsmanship, combined with the nature of his accompanying advertisements, helped Members Only to exceed $100 million in annual sales during the 1980s.
With his passing, one wonders what sort of resurgent popularity Members Only jackets might enjoy. They have come to join with a number of other apparel items, notably bags, footwear and sleep/loungewear, to lend even more clout to Goldsmith, who, sources have noted, issued his often-vibrant goods though colorblind.
It will be interesting to see how often further looks at his contributions to the apparel world will discuss the ads that he paired with his successful attempt at building a “snob-appeal label.” That is because apparel selections have become more about expressing one’s individuality through compelling designs while also showing an attraction to pondering more than how the products look on someone. This is evident through, whether one sides with him or not, the influence that Colin Kaepernick has had on the promo realm owing to his affiliation with Nike.
We live in an era where social stances have become prime material to air via our attire, so time will tell if the Members Only spots from Goldsmith come to resonate with the buying public as forerunners to a movement that often asks for consumers to consider so much when making a purchase.