Hollister vs. Hollister: Trendy clothes-maker battles scrappy farm town

Julie Tilsner

My cousin's 16-year-old daughter is crazy for Hollister, a brand of casual "surf-style" clothes. To this New Hampshire teen, the shorts and hoodies she covets summon up a kind of laid-back, sun-kissed lifestyle (complete with laid-back, sun-kissed boys), that she can only dream of. I had to laugh. The first thing I thought of when I learned about this trend was the small, dusty farming town of Hollister, Calif., which is nowhere near the beach, and where the lifestyle is decidedly more cowboy than surfer.

But then I learned that, more likely, the name might have been taken from a legendary surf spot known as Hollister Ranch, a private stretch of unspoiled beach between Santa Barbara and the mid-coast.

So it was sort of surprising to hear that the makers of Hollister are threatening to sue merchants in the actual town of Hollister if they sell merchandise bearing their town's name.

Preppy clothier Abercrombie & Fitch own the brand, and have already sent a letter threatening action against a clothing line based in Hollister because it had the audacity to put the name of the town on their labels. The owner says she was just trying to give a shout out to the town her headquarters is located in, but she backed down anyway. No small business wants to go up against a giant.