How it all begins.
MARC O’POLO is founded in Stockholm in 1967 by two Swedes, Rolf Lind and Göte Huss, and an American, Jerry O. Sheets. The first collection piece by the three founders is a patchwork shirt made from hand-woven Indian cotton. The key visual of the first advertising campaign - a strawberry - attracts international attention.
First steps into other countries.
At a menswear trade show in Cologne, the founders meet Werner Böck, the company’s current majority shareholder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board. On the same day of their first encounter, Böck founds MARC O’POLO Deutschland Vertriebs GmbH. “It wasn’t only new, but revolutionary!” Böck recalls today.
The introduction of the logo sweatshirt.
In the early 1970s, MARC O'POLO expands the collection into complete women's and men's lines and introduces the brand CAMPUS. This is followed by the development of the legendary logo sweatshirt. Until then, only athletes had worn hoodies, sweatshirts and zipper jackets. MARC O’POLO emblazons the designs with a large logo. Across Europe, MARC O’POLO sweatshirts become the epitome of youthful, everyday fashion in the 1980s.
Economic growth and the first store.
The economic growth of the company goes hand-in-hand with innovation. In 1979, the world’s first MARC O’POLO store opens in Düsseldorf. Its success paves the way for the launch of the MARC O’POLO franchise concept. Only ten years later, two collections are developed and produced per season. Today, the company presents eight collections a year. In 1987, Werner Böck acquires over 40% of the Swedish parent company’s shares.
Licensing business and a new home.
Three years later, MARC O’POLO enters the licensing business with shoes, eyewear and bodywear. In 1997 Werner Böck becomes majority shareholder, transferring the company’s headquarters from Stockholm to Stephanskirchen. From now on, design, production, marketing and sales are managed from Germany. In addition MARC O’POLO launches a further license: an accessories line for bags and small leather goods.
A flagship and the world wide web.
On Munich’s Theatinerstraße, in the vicinity of the company’s headquarters, the largest MARC O’POLO flagship store, with a sales area of around 900 square meters, opens in 2003. In the same year, the company lays the foundation for eCommerce when the MARC O’POLO eShop Germany goes online.
Reclamation of shoes and a big anniversary.
In 2005 the license for MARC O’POLO Shoes is reclaimed. From now on, the newly founded MARC O’POLO Shoes GmbH designs, produces and markets MARC O’POLO footwear. MARC O’POLO celebrates its 40th anniversary with the “since 67” collection in aid of the UNICEF project “Schools for Africa”. With the opening of its franchise store in Uppsala, Sweden, MARC O’POLO runs 1,000 stores and shop-in-stores worldwide.
And the winner is...
Two years later, MARC O’POLO wins the German fashion industry’s “Oscar”, the Forum Award of the trade journal TextilWirtschaft. The company is recognized for its outstanding entrepreneurial and personal performance, which has a sustained impact on the development of the fashion industry.
Following the opening of the first MARC O'POLO store in Poland in 2011, a showroom and two stores follow in Paris in 2012, as well as other stores in the major cities of Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands. CAMPUS becomes an independent company. Online, MARC O'POLO e-shops open in Switzerland and Sweden in 2011 and in Belgium and France in 2013. Also in 2013, the license for accessories is reclaimed and MARC O'POLO Shoes is renamed MARC O'POLO Shoes & Accessories GmbH.
Customers become members.
As the basis for a new cross-channel strategy, MARC O’POLO introduces RFID technology in 2013, interlinking the company’s own stationary retail with that of franchise partners and online retailers as of 2015. The MARC O’POLO for Members loyalty program allows for an individual approach to, and exclusive services for, regular customers.
China and the DENIM business.
As part of its ongoing expansion, MARC O’POLO opens its first store in China, in Shanghai, in 2014. Since then, business in the Far East continues to grow steadily. In addition, the company launches the new MARC O’POLO DENIM collection line in 2015, and CAMPUS GmbH becomes MARC O’POLO DENIM & CAMPUS GmbH.
Let's celebrate 50 years of O’!
MARC O’POLO celebrates its 50th birthday with special collections and promotions. Customers, partners and fans of the brand join the festivities via all channels. To develop a special edition of the MARC O’POLO sweatshirt, the company enlists pop legend Robbie Williams in a design collaboration. The singer supports the accompanying campaign with a one-time private concert at the company's 50th anniversary event, at its headquarters in Stephanskirchen. Just in time for the anniversary, MARC O’POLO also launches its .com shop, making the brand available online in 20 countries.
What started with hand-woven cotton shirts develops into a complete women’s and men’s line in just a few years. The key factors in MARC O’POLO’s success are innovative products made almost entirely of natural materials and a focused distribution strategy that positions the brand internationally from the beginning while placing it only in selected environments. Especially in Germany, sales grow continuously.
Back in the summer of ’67, two Swedes and an American living in Stockholm set out to build a different kind of clothing company.
Rolf Lind, Göte Huss and Jerry O. Sheets were adventurous, well-traveled, free-thinking entrepreneurs who shared a passion for materials. With the world turning more and more to synthetic fibers at the time, they made it their mission to work with natural fabrics imported from the East.
All they needed now was a name for the company. The partners drew inspiration from Marco Polo, a fellow explorer who traveled the same trade routes centuries earlier. But for the name of their company, they wanted something with a twist - something to put a twinkle in the eye.
Then it hit them. People had often misspelled Jerry’s name with an O’, as if he were Irish. What about introducing an O’ to the name of their favorite explorer?
In that Big Bang moment, MARC O’POLO was born. And built into its identity from the start was the O’, a symbol of individuality, originality and the freedom to be yourself. Half a century later, our passion for materials is stronger than ever. And so is the spirit represented by that O’. It’s not about changing the world. It’s about the simple twist that makes things better, gives them personality - and puts a twinkle in the eye.