mosi1Behind every big brand is a brilliant mind making the magic happen. Someone with an eye for trends will be picking the colors and the fabrics that everyone will be wearing the following Add Mediaseason. This job takes forward thinking, bravery, and a natural ability to discover tomorrow’s look today, but even these creative geniuses are not perfect. The mind behind Mossimo is no different.

Mossimo Giannulli was born and raised in southern California where he was surrounded by a serene, casual, and laid back environment. Mossimo desired to capitalize on this beach vibe and, with a small loan from his father, he founded his label Mossimo in 1986 while he was still in his early 20s. This young designer created a line of beachwear that he sold out of a garage on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. In its first year the company did really well for itself. It raked in over 1 million dollars in profit.

During the early years of the company’s life, Mossimo expanded the line to include more than just beachwear. It started carrying sweatshirts, knits and sweaters and by 1995, the collection included women’s clothing and men’s tailored suits. After only eight years in business, Mossimo, Inc. had grown into a multi-million dollar lifestyle sportswear and accessories company. But that wasn’t enough for the youngest reported CEO of a New York Stock Exchange company. Mossimo wanted more. When asked about his early success by the Fashion Model Directory website, an online source containing information about models and designers, Mossimo said, “From 1987 to 1996, we were on an absolute roll. Tons of profit, tons of growth…but we needed a stronger infrastructure to keep up.”


Mossimo found the extra push his company needed with the multi-product licensing agreement he made with Target retailers. The Target agreement allowed Mossimo so much design freedom and opportunity. He was able to create a very wide range of product categories and he was able to take advantage of both their merchandising expertise and their product distribution capabilities.

Now Mossimo is a well-known brand that specializes in youth and teenage clothing such as shirts, jeans, jackets, socks, underwear and accessories. It draws its inspiration from street, urban, and sport styles. The company started off in a garage, but now it is sold in 1,700 stores in the US, with international licenses in Australia, Philippines, South America, Mexico, Japan and India totaling 600 stores.

However successful the brand has become, Mossimo has recently been criticized for many of his business decisions. In the LA Times article The Rise and Fall of Mossimo Giannulli, Sandy Potter, co-owner of Directives West in Los Angeles, which advises major department stores on California fashion trends, talks about Mossimo’s quick expansion. She said, “He enjoyed so much success so early that I honestly don’t think he knew how long and how hard of a transition that is to make… I always believed he had the talent to make it happen, but that’s the kind of thing that takes 10 years to accomplish, not two or three.”


The Mossimo Company has recently experienced some drop off in sales, but there are still people who love the Mossimo products. I personally have closet full of Mossimo stuff from Target, but the business struggles have affected Mossimo. He has refused buy-out offers and he had been determined to turn his line around.

In 2013, Mossimo launched a line of brightly colored golf gloves. Mossimo commented on how the color options used to be just black and white but he wanted to give men a chance to be bold with their sportswear. In an interview with Minor House, an online publication focusing on the golf lifestyle and fashion marketplace, Mossimo said, “Non-fashion guys tend to get out of their comfort zone on the golf course, meaning that a guy that would never wear a white belt in real life will wear it on the golf course. A guy that would never wear a plaid pant will wear one on the golf course. A guy that would never wear a bright orange shirt will wear one on the golf course. So what a great opportunity for a guy to push the limits and have an interesting accessory? That was the motivating factor early [on].”

Mossimo has made some bold decisions that haven’t always been received well, but his brand is still alive and very successful today. I think as long as he keeps making the magic happen with his eye for trends and opportunities to provide young people with options he will continue to thrive. People think he is stretching himself too thin, but I think his versatility keeps him relevant. We will see how the brand continues to thrive in the future.

~Shannan Rivera