Many young women in the USA today would probably cite dELiA*s as a huge influence on their upbringing. dELiA*s wasn’t just any old fashion catalog, it was the place for teenage and pre-teen girls to find the best clothing that wouldn’t break their pocket money budgets.
For such a once ubiquitous brand, not that many know the story behind its creation, innovation, and saturation. For example, did you know the following info about one of your favorite childhood memories?
- dELiA*s was founded in 1993 by 2 former Yale roommates, Stephen Kahn and Christopher Edgar.
- Though young women’s fashion was and is a highly competitive marketplace, the founders of dELiA*s convinced investors by pitching the company as the MTV of the fashion world.
- It was originally aimed at college-aged women, but that demographic wasn’t so keen on it. But their little sisters were. So dELiA*s was marketed to high school students instead.
- Within 4 years, the company had annual sales of $158 million.
- At the height of its popularity, dELiA*s received up to 5000 catalog requests every single day.
- It is estimated that 10% of the 40 million female millennials currently living in the U.S. have requested a dELiA*s catalog.
- There was a version for boys called Droog, but it wasn’t as popular and folded in 2000.
- Creative director Charlene Benson worked on the catalog when she wasn’t at her day job at Mademoiselle. Benson said that she enjoyed working for dELiA*s because it gave her more unique opportunities than at Condé Nast, such as using photos where models were making faces and incorporating randomly capitalized font.
- Benson also admitted that she conducted zero market research while creating dELiA*s. However, she has said that she looked at numerous teen magazines of the time and decided that the catalogue was to be aimed at that market, but in a different way. Her decision was that instead of being focused on girls that were solely looking to attract boys, dELiA*s was about girls that were focused on creativity, interesting styles and friends.
- The photoshoots were reportedly super fun. According to former dELiA*s models, the photographer would turn on the music and let girls just do their thing, which resulted in more expressive poses and facial expressions.
- And if you’re wondering where the name dELiA*s came from. That remains a mystery.
- dELiA*s founded the website gURL.com. It wasn’t a retail site but instead focused on sports, dating and lifestyle issues for young people. However, gURL.com was sold to Seventeen Magazine in 2001.
- For some, gURL.com was just as important as dELiA*s. When it was at its height, it had three million unique visitors every month and articles now exist that talk fondly of how it helped young women learn about growing up.
- Some even state that gURL.com was the precursor to important feminist websites such as Jezebel.
- Alloy Inc. purchased the dELiA*s in 2003, for $50 million.
- dELiA*s declared bankruptcy in 2015, but re-opened less than a year later as an online merchant.