According to industry analysts, fashion is a $1.2 trillion global industry, with more than $250 billion spent annually in the united states. Structurally diverse, fashion is comprised of large fashion houses, major international retailers and wholesalers to one-person design shops. Fashion has, undoubtedly, changed over the years and has become a part of the creative economy with millennials drawing upon their creative skills to build, brand, and grow fashion lines.
Since 2012 Milan Rouge, owner of Milano Di Rouge (a lifestyle apparel brand that focuses on providing affordable luxury pieces to fashion enthusiasts), has been steadily growing her sales and brand awareness across the country. Gaining celebrity clientele such as Lou Williams of the LA Lakers, actress and tv personality LaLa Anthony, rapper Meek Mill, personality Angela Simmons, Toya Wright, and more, Milano Di Rouge is taking over the urban apparel industry one garment at a time.
BlackEnterprise.com got the chance to catch up with the young designer behind the Milano Di Rouge brand to discuss her start in fashion, what inspires her, and how she took her brand from unknown to highly successful.
BlackEnterprise.com: How did you get your start in the fashion and design industry?
Rouge: I have always been a lover of all things fashion-related. Growing up I became very drawn to not only dressing myself, but styling my friends as well. I had a self-made motto, ‘if you look better, you feel better.” Many do not know, but I was an extremely mediocre hairstylist, however clients would still come see me just to receive fashion and lifestyle advice, lol. My clients looked to me as sort of a therapist, and one client encouraged me to begin blogging. Within that passion I began to blog on lifestyle and fashion tips/advice, gaining over 100,000 views in 3 months. The major online impressions gave me the push to want to expand and do more for my growing brand. From that point, as my knowledge and passion for this industry grew, I knew that I had a creative design concept that had a lane of it’s own, and now a platform to sell it on. I began working vigorously on Milano Di Rouge on July of 2012 and launched on November, 11 2012.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced throughout your journey?
The biggest obstacle I have been faced with is being not only a female, but also an African American female in a predominantly male-dominated industry; as well as dealing with the competition, bad stigma that all women hold. Let me elaborate. The fashion industry alone, at least high-fashion, is not the typical AA industry. When it comes to the streetwear genre, men have created most of the popular existing brands. As a young and attractive female it’s hard to gain respect and be taken seriously as a business owner. Being African American adds an additional hurdle right from the beginning of my journey. So I find myself having to always go the ‘extra mile’ to be taken seriously in this industry. As for the 2nd obstacle, I am a firm believer and practice of ‘Girl Power.’ However, in a world where women are often seen as the underdog in business, women can’t help but feed off that energy and become natural competitors, rather than support each other. If we all supported one another’s growth we would all win.
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