HOLLISTER, CA — A group of British executives representing 11 Hollister Co. stores in the United Kingdom suffered through a horrific 48-hour ordeal when they accidentally traveled to Hollister, California, mistaking it for the origin of the eponymous clothing brand.
“Instead of landing in a West Coast surfer’s paradise,” lamented Hugh Humbert-Lardwick, a regional vice president from Bristol, “we found ourselves roaming the streets of a town straight out of Lovecraft. Creepy backwoods people, twisted homes, uneven streets that led nowhere. It was just awful.”
Hollister is well-known among geologists as one of the best examples of aseismic creep anywhere in the world, which accounts from the nightmarishly contorted architecture of its homes. Streets crossing the fault in Hollister show significant offset, and several houses sitting atop the fault are notably mangled (yet habitable, according to residents). The city attracts geologists and geology students almost weekly. The city, however, does not attract fashionistas.
Know for being “out in the middle of nowhere,” Hollister is the birthplace of the violent American biker movement, which began inauspiciously with a riot in 1947. Hollister also enjoys a rich farm and ranch heritage, evident by the presence of the Haybaler, the unnerving mascot of Hollister’s only high school.
“The local Target store is probably the most ‘hip’ place in town,” said a visibly shaken Amelia Snipes, a marketing professional from the Liverpool office. “A rabble of soiled, wild children semi-jokingly refered to it as their mall.”
“How could this miserable place have been the inspiration for the Hollister brand?” asked Humbert-Lardwick, clearly struggling through a crisis of faith. “Hollister stores, as a policy, play alternative rock and pop music at 80 to 85 decibels. The only music played on Hollister [California] radio stations are Spanish and Country – sometimes together. Ninety decibels, at least!”
“The entire city is landlocked,” noticed Humbert-Lardwick’s personal assistant, speaking with her face buried in her trembling hands. “It’s miles from the ocean. There’s not a surfboard in sight. But there are plenty of buckboards.”
During the second day, one of the stranded executives managed to get cell phone reception long enough to place a frantic call to the Southern California headquarters of Abercrombie & Fitch, which owns the Hollister brand.
After dispatching a snooty store associate to rescue the visiting U.K. brass, a marketing team from the U.S. offices explained that Hollister Co. is actually nothing more than a wondrous store where aimless suburbanites in landlocked cities across America can spend hundreds of dollars on faux surfwear, jeans pre-shredded by underage shop workers in Saipan, and mass-produced “vintage” shirts.
“It’s a good thing the brand was not based on the city we saw. Otherwise, I can only imagine that the Drift and Epic fragrances would have carried the scents of cow shit and epic failure,” a more jovial Humbert-Lardwick said after the meeting, unaware that to most consumers Drift and Epic smell exactly as he described.
Worried that other employees or customers might follow in the Brits’ footsteps and plan fashion pilgrimages to Hollister, Calif., Abercrombie & Fitch have filed suit in California Superior Court to force the town to legally change its name. Experts believe the company has a strong case and is likely to win. Proposed alternative names offered by the city’s mayor include Banana Republic, Gap, Aeropostale and Wet Seal.
“Given the amount of seismic activity in Hollister,” said Mayor Victor Gomez, “it looks like we may end up going with Gap.”