The luxury fashion industry is set to grow between 5 and 12 percent this year. However, as the selection of quality goods has continued to grow, consumers have become far more sophisticated in their brand choices, creating steep competition within the category. Longing for deep experiential engagement beyond a material product, the cost of doing business has largely been influenced by a brand’s ability to spark a purposeful connection and hold a very personal conversation.
According to the joint report from consultancy firm, Bain & Co., and Italian trade group, Altagamma, keeping top customers engaged is more difficult than ever. As a result, the scale has become a significant advantage. Brands like Chanel, Hermès, and LVMH are set to outperform the rest as their top-tier status allows greater exposure to wealthier audiences who are far more familiar with their name and finished product.
For luxury fashion brands looking to thrive long after the sector’s record-breaking year, luxury streetwear brand Milano Di Rouge poses a great example of building a business that can last the tests of new times. Established in 2012, the brand has amassed over $80 million in direct-to-consumer sales over the last ten years and plans future expansion partnerships with top retailers. I recently spoke with Founder and CEO, Milan Harris, to discuss the importance of branding, marketing, and storytelling on Milano’s continued growth within the shifting market.
Calling All Dreamers
During her 10+ years in business, Milan Harris, also known as Milan Rouge to her 1.2 million followers on Instagram, has always prioritized having a strict company culture and distinct core values. “We cater towards the dreamers,” she stated firmly. From 8 days to 80 years old, “If you have a dream that you’re making reality,” pronounced Harris, “Milano Di Rouge is for you.”
Milano Di Rouge’s brand slogan of “Making Dreams Reality” is a phrase that Harris has demonstrated since coming from “The Bottom,” a working-class neighborhood in West Philadelphia. When she and her friends needed money to afford new drill team uniforms, Harris recalls orchestrating a bake sale where she flipped cakes and cookies for double their retail price. “Now looking back, I was always an entrepreneur because we used that money to pay my grandma to make our uniforms,” she revealed.
Years later, Harris would use the same formula to get her new clothing line off the ground. After three months of sharing pointed advice on love, dating, fashion, and motivational content on her blog, she captured over 100,000 views and decided to leverage the audience’s attention by selling a flagship product that would embody the platform’s central identity.
“I started with two sweatshirt designs,” she explained. “I could only afford to buy two shirts so I wore one and then I sold the other one.” Buying five more items from the sales and marketing of the first two, Milano Di Rouge was born.
Gaining Experience Points
Providing exclusive luxury to everyday fashion enthusiasts, today, Milano Di Rouge offers a full line of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, outerwear, and a variety of accessories. Worn by celebrities such as Lil Baby, Cardi B, Lili Reinhart, Usher, Monica, Ciara and her children, Glorilla, Rick Ross and more, the brand has become a staple in the streetwear industry. Additionally boasting an average of 20 million Instagram impressions per month, over half a million email subscribers, and more than 100,000 text subscribers excited for every new launch, Milano’s success has established Harris as an e-commerce and marketing expert with the skills to scale a company.
For Harris, Milano owes its consistent rise and sustainability to its lasting authenticity. “When I first started,” she revealed. “The closest people to me weren’t my first supporters. It was me being authentically me and speaking on things that I truly cared about.” As her audience grew, Harris says she refused to alter the vision of Milano Di Rouge to sustain momentum, resulting in a more loyal following and respectable status.
A unisex premium brand that can be compared to Tommy Hilfiger, Milano Di Rouge’s laidback image and ambitious lifestyle is a reflection of its owner’s aesthetic tastes and core values. To create an even greater buy-in, Harris is sure to connect a compelling narrative to the marketing of each new product. “I’m really big on creating the story so that people can feel like a part of the process,” she shared.
Whether it’s launching a capsule collection based on self-love and personal celebration or putting on a 10th anniversary fashion milano-di-rouge-celebrated-10-years-with-the-dream-continues-fashion-experience-and-gala-in-atlanta/” aria-label=”experience”>experience and gala themed, “The Dream Continues,” Harris is adamant that Milano caters to Dreamers by allowing them to share in dreamy experiences of worth elevation, opulence, and bold hustle mixed with humble brags. Continuing to indulge her customer’s senses, the serial entrepreneur, real estate investor, philanthropist, author, and co-founder of College Boy Cheesesteaks, the only food truck serving authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks in Los Angeles, has built an inclusive brand that follows today’s market cheat code.
“I feel like the demographics are fine,” stated Harris. “But nowadays, your audience can be so broad. If you focus on one demographic, you may be losing another, so it’s moreso, what activities do they enjoy doing? What is important to them?” Leaning on insights from personal experience rather than physical and social characteristics, Harris centers marketing around specially curated storylines that tie in the brand experience with what its target market is doing.
Prioritizing Mixed Marketing
Utilizing creative storytelling and aspirational imagery, Harris’ most sustainable tactics for growing Milano have leaned heavily on sustained customer interaction. “Prior to our customers ordering, we start marketing on social media, into our newsletter, into our platforms, so that they can know that this product is coming and they can create a demand for it,” she emphasized. According to Harris, in the ever-changing market of fashion, design, and merchandising, only quality comes before branding, storytelling, and marketing as the most important components of product development.
“Don’t miss the opportunity to market to your customer,” urged Harris. However, she poses that leaving marketing up to unreliable social media algorithms and impermanent platforms is a mistake that many budding brands make. To gain and maintain brand traction, Milano Di Rouge additionally markets to its customers via newsletter, SMS marketing, their brick-and-mortar store, influencer marketing, content marketing, customer reviews and testimonial marketing, as well as through paper correspondence with mailing campaigns.
Providing Sustainable Storytelling
A self-described, “hands-on leader,” Harris prioritizes learning alongside her team and growing with her company as she spearheads a brand that will surely develop into a legendary legacy. Continuing to share her entrepreneurial journey and resources with women like herself, Harris founded The Womanaire Club, which encourages women to thrive while building community, and The Mamanaire Club, a community for women raising healthy children while simultaneously pursuing life goals.
Weaving faith, hope, and determination into brand DNA, Harris has taken Milano Di Rouge out of her dreams and inspired millions to take charge of their realities. As a result, the company’s success has only been amplified by its relatability and its growing audience’s willingness to buy into a greater vision for themselves. “I wanted to tell the story of, if I can do it, you can do it too,” she concluded. “The only thing that’s stopping you is you.”
- Is This Fashion Brand Really Sustainable Or Just Expensive, And More Ethical Shopping Questions Answered
- Will Fashion Retailers Launching Beauty Lines Succeed?
- Cody Simpson Launches Eco-Friendly Fashion Brand ‘Prince Neptune’
- These Plus-Size Clothing Stores & Brands Are Editor-Approved
- 5-year-old Central Texas girl finds, returns lost wedding ring with incredible sentimental value