How Hollister Changed My Life
“Yes we can.” “I have a dream.” “You Only Live Once. That’s the motto baby – YOLO.” When you hear these famous quotes, your mind immediately conjures up images of the great men who spoke them: President Obama, Dr. King, and His Drizziness, Drake.
Leaders can be defined by the simplest of expressions, the absolute fewest of words. One summer, I dared to speak words that have hung in infamy: “Hey! What’s Up?”
When I spoke those three words, I was not the leader of a nation. I was not the hero of a movement. And I was certainly not the champion of a growing army of sensitive Canadian rappers. However, I did hold great power…as a member of the national leader in preppy teen outfitting from 2009 to 2011. I was a Hollister Co. employee.
Like many a hero, I did not chose greatness; instead, it was foisted upon me.
I began my path to greatness the way many heroes do – with an online application. As I typed in the all-important contact information and revealed my “special skills,” talents that included Microsoft Word and “people skills,” I hadn’t the slightest idea of the importance of the journey I was about to begin. I may have sent the application, but the truth is, that application sent me.
It was mid-June when I began at Hollister. A smile on my face and hope in my heart, I thought I had all I needed. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
You see, Hollister is not just a “store” that “sells” predominantly “summer wear” for “WASP-y teens” and “divorced men who can’t afford Ed Hardy.” No. Hollister creates an environment for its customers, a community. This uplifting community is founded upon righteous values like “always overusing cologne” and “wearing sandals with a long sleeve shirt and jeans.” You know, in case your body is always cold but your feet are burning up. IT MAKES SENSE. Anyhow, if I wanted to foster that same community, I couldn’t just be any old excitable schlub – I needed to look the part.
For those unfamiliar, allow me to explain the quintessential Hollister look: At its core, the Hollister look is meant to be comfortable and inviting. The customer is supposed to walk in and think, “Wow, how cool is it that this company lets its employees show up in such comfortable, unplanned attire! They’re so laid-back!” The amount of time this super laid-back look takes: at least 15 minutes. Here’s why: While customers may think they know what looks good, Hollister Corporate understands there are five million different processes that occur inside the human brain when someone is shopping for tank tops. In order to please every optical and chemical receptor in the brain and fully engage these processes, Hollister has composed a scientifically proven1 dress code for its employees.
The Hollister dress code is half stylish, half casual — and all empirically tested.2 Some highlights include: pants that are cuffed exactly three-quarters of an inch (NOT ONE-HALF, YOU GODDAMN NEANDERTHAL), long-sleeved Hollister-brand plaid shirts tucked in on only the left side, and sandals or Vans of only white or blue. It is scientific perfection crafted into an art form. Based on the extensive research Hollister has conducted, I wouldn’t be surprised if this description alone inspires even the manliest of readers from rushing to Hollister to buy a size zero maxi-mini-medi dress.
Once I was outfitted like a true hero, the real work began. As they say, to lead, you must first learn to follow. I learned to follow on the most hallowed training grounds of any organization: the Hollister stockroom.
I never intended to progress beyond the stockroom. I was happy to support this noble organization behind the scenes, allowing the wunderkinds in the main room to serve the populace like they had done for many weeks (on a part-time basis) before my arrival. However, fate had different plans in store for me.
I spent weeks serving as the backbone of the Hollister — ensuring the store had the proper supplies for the demigods selling the Hollister experience in the sale room. I allowed my soul to connect with the Hollister product line, and the unceasing repetitions of “Dear Maria, Count Me In” that consumed the stock room. Then one fateful morning, I heard my call to greatness. My beneficent boss asked me, a lowly stock room boy, to work the main floor. The comfort-wear clad angels of So Cal descended from the heavens as I realized my calling.
From that day forth, my life was transformed. I was granted the opportunity to dress our paragons of excellence.3 I was allowed to breath the hallowed Hollister air (though obviously not too often, lest I suffocate on the shear perfection of it).4 Most importantly though, I was enabled to share the Hollister message — a vision of camaraderie, ambition, and just being super chill, you know? It was enthralling.
After three months, I sadly left my position at Hollister for college. Had my college town possessed a Hollister — instead of the Devil’s Dens known as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel — I would’ve continued my noble mission. Unfortunately though, such a path was not destined for me. Still, I will never forget the moments I spent in those hallowed rooms.
My journey with Hollister did not end that day. My moment of greatness lives on in high school hallways filled with inappropriately fitting jeans. It lives on in closests of mom’s who “still got it – you bet your sweet behind.” But most importantly, it lives on in three words I will never forget: “Hey, What’s up?”