How popular is the baby name Brittania in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Brittania.

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Popularity of the baby name Brittania


Posts that mention the name Brittania

What gave the baby name Zena a boost in 1980?

Commercial for Zena Jeans
Commercial for Zena Jeans

If you look at the popularity graph for the baby name Zena, you’ll see two conspicuous increases in usage: the first in the 1960s (thanks to an actress named Zina), the second in the 1990s (thanks to a warrior princess named Xena).

It’s slightly harder to see that Zena doubled in usage from 1979 to 1980, and sustained that elevated usage for several years:

  • 1983: 47 baby girls named Zena
  • 1982: 58 baby girls named Zena
  • 1981: 54 baby girls named Zena
  • 1980: 51 baby girls named Zena
  • 1979: 24 baby girls named Zena
  • 1978: 28 baby girls named Zena
  • 1977: 24 baby girls named Zena

Why?

I think it has to do with advertisements for Zena Jeans — one of the many jeans brands that emerged during the designer jeans craze of the late ’70s and early ’80s. (Other brands included Jordache, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt by Murjani, Sergio Valente, Chardon, Sasson, and Brittania.)

Zena’s sexy TV commercials featured good-looking young ladies and the tagline: “If you’re a woman, Zena is you!”

New York-based Zena Jeans was named after co-founder Zena Gilbert, who launched the company in 1978 with her husband Richard.

Zena Gilbert, who had four children (with Richard), hadn’t been able to find reasonably priced jeans with the right fit (i.e., “smaller in the waist and roomier in the hips”). So Richard, who worked in the apparel industry, suggested that they design and manufacture their own line of jeans.

“They turned a modest investment into a $22 million business in two years.”

For Zena Gilbert, “Zena” was a nickname. She was born Zenaida Gromoff on the remote island of St. Paul, which lies several hundred miles off the coast of mainland Alaska. Her father was a Russian Orthodox priest named Elary, and her mother was an Aleut woman named Elisaveta (Elizabeth).

What are your thoughts on the name Zena?

Sources:

Image: Screenshot of a TV commercial for Zena Jeans

Where did the baby name Ellesse come from in 1986?

Ellesse sunglasses advertisement featuring tennis player Chris Evert, 1985.
Ellesse ad featuring Chris Evert (1985)

The name Ellesse started popping up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1980s:

  • 1988: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 6 born in California
  • 1987: 12 baby girls named Ellesse
    • 8 born in California
  • 1986: 10 baby girls named Ellesse [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The Italian sportswear brand Ellesse (pronounced el-ES), the name of which was derived from the initials of the founder, Leonardo Servadio (“L. S.”).

The brand grew popular during the 1970s and 1980s thanks to close associations with the sports of skiing and tennis. Tennis stars Guillermo Vilas, Chris Evert, and Boris Becker were all sponsored by Ellesse. In fact, Becker was wearing Ellesse outfits when he won Wimbledon in both 1985 and 1986.

Advertisements and tennis sponsorships may have been enough to boost “Ellesse” into the baby name data in 1986, but two more things that might have helped as well include:

  • Ellesse’s sponsorship of the New York City Marathon from 1984 to 1986, and/or
  • Ellesse’s partnership with Philadelphia 76ers player Maurice “Mo” Cheeks — at that time, a recent NBA champion and recent All-Star — to create Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes in 1985.
Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes
Ellesse Cheeks

All that said…I can’t account for the particularly high usage of Ellesse in California. Any ideas? (Is there a telenovela I’m missing here?)

What do you think of “Ellesse” as a baby name?

Sources:

P.S. Brittania and Generra are two other sportswear brands that became baby names…

Where did the baby name Generra come from in 1986?

Generra TV commercial, circa 1986
Generra TV commercial, circa 1986

The name Generra began appearing in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1980s:

  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Generra
  • 1988: 8 baby girls named Generra
  • 1987: 10 baby girls named Generra [peak]
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Generra [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Why?

Because of the clothing brand Generra.

Generra Sportswear Co. was founded in Seattle in 1980 (by former Brittania employees). Originally, it focused on men’s sportswear exclusively.

In 1986, “the company added children’s wear and women’s wear items to their portfolio.” This expansion, plus all the associated advertising, is likely the reason Generra debuted as a girl name in 1986 specifically.

Generra Hypercolor shirt
Generra Hypercolor shirt

The name was last in the data in 1991 — ironically, the very same year the company introduced its trendy Hypercolor clothing (which changed color according to the temperature).

Generra ended up putting “too much money into the Hypercolor fad,” though, and this, along with other factors, forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection in mid-1992.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Generra?

Sources:

What gave the baby name Brittania a boost in 1980?

Brittania advertisement

In 1979 and 1980, four very similar girl names — Brittania, Brittanya, Britania and Britanya — all popped up in the U.S. baby name data:

BrittaniaBrittanyaBritaniaBritanya
198313...
1982136..
1981357910
198060†19*13*16*
19795*...
1978....
1977....
*Debut, †Peak usage

What put them there?

A marketing campaign for Brittania blue jeans.

Sportswear brand Brittania (pronounced brih-TAN-yah) was launched in Seattle in 1973 by businessman Walter Schoenfeld.

He was inspired to start selling “washed” blue jeans to Americans after spotting “a pair of faded blue denim slacks in the window of a London shop.” (Brittania jeans were “fashionable alternatives to the dark denim Levi’s that were so prevalent at that time.”)

Sales of Britannia jeans increased throughout the 1970s:

In [fewer] than 10 years, Brittania Sportswear was selling 30 million pairs a year and Brittania — Schoenfeld spelled it that way to distinguish his brand from the Royal Yacht Britannia — had a team of 40 to 50 designers and about 400 employees in Seattle.

Then, in 1980, Schoenfeld made a “decision which ran against his better judgment: Brittania embarked on the first full-scale advertising campaign in its history.”

Brittania advertisement, 1981
“My home is Texas but I live in Brittania!”

That year, the company spent about $9 million on advertising. The result was the “My home is __ but I live in Brittania” marketing campaign.

The campaign was very successful; brand recognition increased from 48% in 1978 to 96% in 1980.

But it also created a new problem: too much demand for the product. By the spring of 1980, the company “had a 50 percent increase in orders over the previous year, but lacked production capacity to fill them.”

This situation, along with several other issues, led the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 1983. Several years after that, it was purchased by Levi Strauss.

Brittania advertisement

Brittania may not be around anymore, but, as the very first designer jeans company in the U.S., it paved the way for brands like Jordache, Chardon, and Zena.

It also helped kick the baby name Brittany into high gear circa 1980:

  • 1983: 4,377 baby girls named Brittany [64th]
  • 1982: 3,102 baby girls named Brittany [94th]
  • 1981: 1,714 baby girls named Brittany [165th]
  • 1980: 1,406 baby girls named Brittany [190th]
  • 1979: 792 baby girls named Brittany [300th]
  • 1978: 630 baby girls named Brittany [345th]
  • 1977: 488 baby girls named Brittany [419th]

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Brittany in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Brittany

What are your thoughts on the baby name Brittania? (Do you like it more or less than Brittany?)

P.S. Did you know that Seattle’s apparel industry was born in the wake of the Klondike gold rush? Many prospectors bought provisions in Seattle before heading north to Alaska. Apparel companies founded in Seattle include Filson (1897), Nordstrom (1901), and Eddie Bauer (1920).

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