Network is absolutely essential if you are going to succeed in the very competitive fashion industry.

Ralph Lauren started by designing mens ties: “I didn’t know how to make a tie,” Lauren confessed to Vogue in 1982.

History of Polo Ralph Lauren

“I didn’t know fabric, I didn’t know measurements. What did I know? That I was a salesman. That I was honest. And that all I wanted was quality.” Lauren’s ties were wider and more colorful than other ties on the market and they soon found a niche, first in small menswear stores and later in the fashionable Bloomingdale’s department store.

The Polo empire began in the late 1960s, when Lauren, then a clothing salesman, got sick of selling other people’s neckties and decided to design and sell his own. Lauren had no experience in fashion design, but he had grown up in the New York fashion world, selling men’s gloves, suits, and ties. In 1967, he went to his employer, Abe Rivetz, with a proposal to design a line of ties, but Rivetz told him, “The world is not ready for Ralph Lauren.”

Within a year, Lauren decided to form his own company with help from his brother Jerry and $50,000 in backing from Norman Hilton (Ralph Lauren’s first investor), a Manhattan clothing manufacturer.

The company, Polo Fashions, Inc. (which changed its name to Polo/Ralph Lauren Corporation in 1987), expanded the Polo menswear collection to include shirts, suits, and sportswear, as well as the trademark ties.

In a rare move, Lauren then began designing clothes for women as well as for men. His first designs–men’s dress shirts cut for women-met with great success in 1971, and soon sales topped $10 million.

Network is absolutely essential if you are going to succeed in the very competitive fashion industry. If you do not have an Ivy League employer with 150 years history in the fashion industry, willing to back you, success may take very long to accomplish.

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Why Major fashion is dying so fast

In this article about Ralph Lauren you can read how the brand is falling in value and keep losing customers. Their relatively new CEO Stefan Larsson quits with following statement from Ralph Lauren himself:

We have found that we have different views on how to evolve the creative and consumer-facing parts of the business”.

“Larsson’s departure will come as a surprise to many, at a time when the company is attempting to inject more excitement around its clothing and products, known for their preppy styles, to attract younger consumers and move away from its reliance on wholesale and heavy discounting”.

The thing is, almost no young people today even know who Ralph Lauren is. Why is that?

I believe it has a lot to do with the transition into the digital age. People are doing everything online, both browsing and shopping fashion. There was a time when people was reading fashion magazines on paper or watched movies on TV, everything heavily saturated with branding commercials. Now, paper magazines as well as the value of TV commercials are dropping like flies as people are changing to online articles and streaming Select Movies and TV programs.

Old-School brands are falling into oblivion as they cannot use location or pure marketing muscles to keep their brand valuable for the young consumer. If you Google Ralph Lauren, you will find lots of 70% discounts and not much else of interest.

Ten years from now, the value of a brand name will be synonym with the quality and absolute adaptation to all the possibilities of the digital media. It will not be enough to take traditional photos to create a digital version of a paper catalogue, as most do today. The consumer will expect a brick and mortar experience, with Artificial Intelligence helping to find your ultimate choices in a thousandth of a second from tens of thousands of fashion brands from all over the planet. A system that adapt to you and instantly show the best possible combinations for your look, taste and wallet. Today’s hunt and gather solutions will be consider as obsolete as it is when it comes to your everyday food consumption.

The future belongs to those able to see and to adapt.

If you are a designer, brand owner or investor, who understand what we are talking about and want to join us , please send an e-mail to: iva@itsmesee.com

For more information about our project, read these articles:

USA Today

JustStyle.com

Apparel Insider (p.18)