In the 80s, whilst the International, big gun brands Versace and Calvin Klein were dressing money happy, rocked out yuppies ( the kind that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bret Easton Ellis novel) in designer attire, in Britain it was designer John Richmond feeding the younger, style hungry consumer. Although Richmond was acknowledging that on this side of the pond, this type of customer was more street savvy and wanted to channel a rebellious look that would match their record collections. Whilst celebrity endorsement from Madonna, Mick Jagger and even Alice Cooper kept his mainline on the barometer, Richmond was passionate about keeping tabs on his younger customers, the ones well-versed in the club and street culture he wanted his clothes to be a part of.
In 1987, the designer made sure he hit his desired audience and launched Destroy, a diffusion line consisting of t-shirts and jeans that came in at a far more affordable price range compared to his pricey mainline. The first collection was all about the more for way of thinking and the denim came in packs of eight with t-shirts and jackets that offered a different look to his popular, expensive leathers. Word got out to packs of cool kids across Britain and in no time, Destroy matched the John Richmond label in popularity. Naturally, America’s MTV generation heard news of this cutting edge, Brit label and along with the rest of Europe made sure it hit stores near them.
It was also Richmond's mind for business that separated him from any other, edgier designers coming out of London at the time. He saw potential to make his brand unique by making it more tangible for everyone with an interest in style, not just the fashion pack. This became clear when Richmond decided to address plus size fans of his label. Destroys jeans came in three sizes: Low rider for slim fit, Hogs for the middle fit and Big Boys for the larger fit. 'We thought no one would mind going in to the store and saying 'I'll take a pair of big boys' it has a good connotation' he told a newspaper at the time.
With all this diversity on offer, Destroy became just as popular as his core label and it soon became all about having to differentiate the two as separate brands. At the time this was retail breakthrough, who knew the cheaper version could sell as well the expensive, hand-made one? With designer diffusions and celebrity brands all available on the high street these days, you could say it was Richmond’s tactics that helped pave the way in making high fashion all the more accessible.