Fashion Industry Name Changes, Both Great and Small

Ralph Lauren

Over the years, several fashion industry denizens have adjusted, dropped, or shortened their monikers, either successfully or, occasionally, without anyone seeming to notice.  The reasons for updated names range from company growth to re-branding to a shift in digital culture. From major players to smaller businesses, let’s take a look at members of the fashion industry who’ve undergone name changes:

1. Ralph Lauren:  Just this past summer, shareholders of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. voted to drop “Polo” from the company’s name.  The logic behind the decision was that many of the lines within Ralph Lauren use neither the word polo nor the brand’s iconic polo pony logo.  And hey, Ralph Lauren himself is accustomed to name changes; after all, he was born Ralph Lifshitz.

2. Nautica:  Nautica, founded by David Chu in 1983, was purchased by the company State-O-Main in 1984 (though the label is now owned by VF Corporation).  By 1994, when Nautica accounted for the biggest sector of its parent company’s business, State-O-Main became Nautica Enterprises.  The name change actually followed two previous ones, as the company had been founded as Pacific Coast Knitting Mills, then became Flastex, Inc., in 1975, and later State-O-Main in the late 70s.

3. Forever 21:  Sure, we all know Forever 21 is one of the biggest players in the fast fashion business, but were you aware that the company started out as “Fashion 21?”  Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, founded their first store under that name in Los Angeles in 1984, and as the company expanded, the couple shifted their focus from a middle-aged female customer base to a younger demographic.  They dropped “fashion” for “forever” — and now have about 500 stores around the world.

4.  PVH Corp.:  On July 1, 2011, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation officially shortened its name to PVH Corp. Well, that’s certainly less of a mouthful.  PVH Corp., which owns labels including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, changed its title to its initials only as a reflection of its re-branding as a global lifestyle company.

5.  Australian Fashion Week:  After a five-year sponsorship deal ended, Rosemount Australian Fashion Week was no more, and the name changed to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney.  Though well-known labels like Zimmerman and Sass & Bide show at Australian Fashion Week, no matter what the title is, the change in name and sponsorship brings the event more into line with its brethren, like New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  (Those biannual shows are also partly sponsored by the automaker.)  And in a globalized business like fashion, consistency like that probably doesn’t hurt.

6.  HSN:  PVH Corp. isn’t the only one to recognize the power of initials — Home Shopping Network shortened its moniker to the catchier HSN, as a way to better express the modern way it appeals to customers.  Having evolved beyond accessing its audience merely through television, HSN interacts with its shoppers across a spectrum of media, from TV to the iPad to Facebook.

7.  WeConnectFashionThe online fashion database Infomat changed its name, at the end of 2010, to WeConnectFashion.  The switch makes sense, as the site originally went live in 1998, a point when the internet was a much smaller place, and specificity wouldn’t have been as necessary.  The updated name represents the company keeping up with a changing digital culture.

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