Before They Were Brands – How Some Top Fashion Design Labels Got Their Start

They’re the must-have fashion design labels, the status brands that we just have to wear. But some labels and designers have become such a part of our fashion culture that it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always successful brands. At one point, the founders were fashion school students, stock boys or sales clerks. In fact, learning about how the designers got their start makes one admire them even more. Here, then, are some top fashion labels and the story of their humble beginnings.

Marc Jacobs. One of today’s top design celebrities, Marc Jacobs’ first job in fashion was as a stock boy at Charavari, an avant-garde clothing boutique in Manhattan. After graduating from high school, he went to fashion college, where he launched a line of hand-knit sweaters. His first job out of fashion school was at Perry Ellis, but he designed a grunge collection there that led to his dismissal. In 1986, with the help of financial backers, he designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label.

Kenneth Cole. Not many people realize that the full name of Kenneth Cole’s brand is “Kenneth Cole Productions.” Why is that? In 1982, the designer wanted to show his first line of shoes at Market Week at the New York Hilton, but couldn’t afford a hotel room or exhibit space. So instead, he parked a trailer two blocks from the hotel to sell his shoes. The only catch was that only production companies were granted permits to park trailers on the street. Not letting that stop him, he turned his shoe company into a film production company, shooting a documentary about his business and selling 40,000 pairs of shoes in the process.

Juicy Couture. The label that popularized the velour track suit was founded by fashion school grad Pamela Skaist-Levy and and Gela Nash-Taylor, wife of Duran Duran’s John Taylor. Believe it or not, their first product was maternity pants. After changing the brand’s focus to active wear, the brand continued to struggle until they sent a free track suit to Madonna with “Madge” emblazoned on it. The superstar was photographed wearing it in public, and Juicy Couture was on the map.

Vera Wang. She may be known for her elegant wedding gowns and costumes for figure skaters like Michelle Kwan, but Vera Wang actually started out as a figure skater as well. She competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and was one of “Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd” that year. She failed to make the U.S. Olympic team and began a career in fashion journalism. She was a senior fashion editor for “Vogue” for 16 years, but left when she was turned down for the top job that Anna Wintour secured. She then became a design director at Ralph Lauren before striking out on her own.

Anna Sui. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Anna Sui loved fashion as a little girl, clipping out fashion magazine pages for her scrapbook. After attending fashion college, she worked for various junior sportswear companies by day, and designing her own clothing by night, eventually launching her own label out of her tiny New York apartment.

Ralph Lauren. Born Ralph Lifshitz, the designer’s first foray into fashion was selling neckties to his fellow classmates at his Talmudical academy. After serving in the U.S. Army, he worked for Brooks Brothers as a sales clerk. In 1967, he became an entrepreneur and opened a necktie store where he sold various labels, including his own, which he called “Polo.” He soon introduced men’s and women’s suits to his line, and eventually gained international recognition when he designed the clothes for the Robert Redford movie, “The Great Gatsby.”

These brands may have started out small, but they became fashion giants. And that’s inspiration indeed for anyone wanting to break into fashion design.

2010 Hottest Summer Fashion Trends

I like summer, not only for the tasty grilled food but also for the hottest fashion gatherings in the summer. Stylish stars always play the most important role in the fashion, and they are always considered to be the fashion guide with the most fashionable items. Believe it or not, the fashion focus of this summer season is relaxed style denim with a fashionable and chic twist.

It is not surprising that when an old fashion come back again to dominate the market for the second time. It is called vintage. Nowadays, there is no clear boundary between the old and new fashions, and they always advance side by side in front of the fashion.

There is no better time than the summer season to explore the new items of the newest fashion. The fashion color in this summer is inspired by earth, including the moss green. It is easily to think of the earthy-colored jeans in this summer. That is why we say it is a vintage in the fashion trend of this summer.

It is a fashion trend in Vogue too. The Hollywood famous star Jessica Biel graces the cover of the February issue of Vogue wearing a denim jacket by Ralph Lauren Collection over a RRL Ralph Lauren denim vest. We can find the vintage clearly here. A current two-page print ad from Dolce & Gabbana’s D&G line features models in a club setting wearing head-to-toe denim and denim dresses while a denim handbag rests on a table.

What is more, all that denim has started to reach the public overnight, and making its way into department stores like Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as J. Crew and Banana Republic, which recently introduced a denim collection that includes trench coats and shirt dresses. Another reason for the rapid popularity of the denim is that folks can be worn all the year round, and it seems that they will never get old-fashioned.

Each one always likes to be looked unique and fresh if you with one fixed style for a long time. Mr. Kneen of Banana Republic says denim on denim looks fresh because it has not been around for some time. ‘Maybe it has been an unacceptable fashion in the past but it is a fashion OK at the moment.’

Absolutely, all Ed Hardy denim can not really make you look fashionable enough. In addition, the Tiffany jewelries, jackets, vests, dresses and Louboutin high heel shoes can most often be found with minimal wear and tear and enjoyed all season long. Last but not least, a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses is a must necessity for you to be real fashionable.

Understanding Street Fashion

Street fashion is fashion that you see on the street. Simple enough right? It is very different from what you might find on fashion magazines and talk shows. It is not about the most expensive line of jewelry or the most outrageous costumes. It is not what you are supposed to wear on the red carpet. Street fashion is about real people in the real world who do things they like. Is it not what fashion should be all about in the first place? Where, along the way, did we lose a sense of what people want and feel in studying fashion?

You can know a lot about a culture and its people by looking at the street fashion of the city. This type of fashion is influenced by a number of factors. Even within a culture, there are many sub-cultures. For example, in the US, which is a fairly homogeneous culture compared to many other countries, the sense of fashion can be very different from one city to another. A city like New York has its own sense of fashion on the street and is very different from a city like San Diego. Don’t be surprised to find that Californians and New Yorkers are not very similar, after all!

Street fashion is also dependent on the weather of the region and a lot of articles never take that into consideration. After all, you are not going to wear a bikini in January in New York but you can get away with a tank-top in Californian winter. Certain accessories, therefore, become distinctive of the region and city.

Street fashion also helps us understand the economy and overall “mood” of the city and its residents. During cheerful times, you will find shorter hemlines and brighter colors. This is not speculation but has a basis in research that has spawned various recessions in the past. It is not hard to imagine that since this is about real people and their real lives, it reflects their life very well. This is contrary to popular fashion which is influenced by a lot of other factors.

Understanding and studying street fashion also gives a sense of history and culture of a city. Visitors, for example, can blend in more easily when they understand this aspect of the city and be embraced as one of their own. This of course is a privilege that can be earned only by the worth tourists and visitors.

Optimize A Fashion Website For Your Target Audience

The US fashion e-commerce industry has maintained a steep growth curve over the last four years. In 2013, apparel and accessories sales accounted for 17 percent of the total retail e-commerce sales in the US, and by 2016, it is predicted to become a 73 billion dollar market. The total revenues from the US fashion e-tail sector are expected to reach 86 billion dollars in 2018.

If you want to secure a lion’s share of the pie in this fast-growing industry, you cannot neglect your online audience. No wonder, from industry bigwigs to small luxury brands, all types of virtual fashion houses are striving to optimize their stores for new generation consumers, who are social media savvy, and essentially look into various online channels for inspiration.

The ‘optimum’ formula

Website optimization is all about enhancing your visibility among your target audience. As far as fashion sites are concerned, the task becomes doubly challenging for marketers, as they need to have an eye for fashion and a deep knowledge of digital marketing trends to be able to push products in markets that seem to get altered every six months.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) are the two pillars of any fashion website optimization strategy. However, before delving deeper into the subject of fashion site optimization, it is important to keep the following aspects of this niche industry in mind:

• Fashion industry is seasonal
• Creating real-life experience is the key
• Trends change here regularly
• Fashion is in the eye of the beholder

Fashion SEO

As ironical as it may sound, 19th century author and poet Oscar Wilde’s famous statement – Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months – holds true even to this day, which is why fashion store optimization becomes an overwhelming task for SEO companies. It takes time for websites to achieve organic ranking on the search engine results (SERP) page. Sometimes, it may even take six months to feature in the SERP page. The reason: Fashion trends are extremely short-lived, and are guided by the seasonal needs, while SEO companies are expected to get your website rank on the SERP page in less than three months time. To be able to rank on the first page of leading search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing – by winter this year, when people will actually start searching for such keywords, companies have to start their SEO works at least three months in advance.

Given the unique nature of the industry, fashion SEO typically involves the following strategies for any given apparel category:

• In depth analysis of trend data to be months ahead of the industry with their optimization activities
• A lot of brainstorming to zero in on the right keywords, with an ability to predict the coming season’s top silhouettes, colors and product types
• Target keywords that are season-specific such as ‘Fall-winter fashion’, ‘Milan Fashion Week 2015′ and so on.
• Reference to fashion color report provided by Panton, the expert in color standardization

Bring In Real Life Experience

Online shopping is different from buying things in a brick and mortar store. In a real store, we can see and feel fabrics for their color and texture, or try clothes to check their fit. Fashion e-shops need to simulate these effects to present your product as realistically as you can. Recommend combinations to create a personalized look. For instance, if you are dealing with shades and glares you can use the virtual try-on facility, offered by some stores specializing in eye wear. The embedded software allows you to create a short video of your face, and then see how your chosen frame looks on you.

Optimize With Social Media

Reaching out to customers on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can lead to massive increases in brand loyalty as well as in sales. Take a leaf out of fashion stalwarts including Burberry, Zara and Victoria’s Secret, who are capitalizing on the 400 million Facebook users and more than 22 million Twitter users to create ripples in the cyber world.

Below are a few inspiring strategies that top social media marketing companies are employing to enhance the viability of fashion brands:

Tailor your message for different demographics: Luxury handbag brand Michael Kors’ Instagram page boasts a combination of luxe product and lifestyle shots, while its Pinterest albums include topics like ‘style icons,’ ‘Michael’s style tips,’ and ‘history of American style’.

Provide an interactive experience: Burberry, the luxury couture brand makes it a point to unveil their collection on Twitter and Instagram before hitting the runway.

Tell an inspiring story about your brand: Christian Dior tried this by creating a ‘Secret Garden – Versatille’ storyline, painting a luxurious picture of its new collection.

Use stunning visuals: Zara that boasts 9,000 fans across their social channels, places great emphasis on sharing rich images of their latest collections, especially on Pinterest.

Provide real time customer service: Jeans and casual wear bigwig, Levi Strauss has really mastered the art of providing customer service in real-time.

“The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good, on you!” This statement by holds particularly true of fashion e-commerce website optimization. An impeccable fashion sense is not about following the trends blindly, but about taking cues from them, and tweaking them according to your looks and comfort to make a unique style statement. When you are optimizing a fashion e-commerce store, make sure you offer uniquely personalized fashion solutions. Remember, there is no one-size-fit-all dress in this world!