7 Marketing And Branding Secrets From A Fashion Industry Expert


From 2006 - 2008 there were a lot of interesting things happening in the Streetwear industry and there continue to be exciting announcements. Collaborations and experiential retail situations allowed brands and artists to reach new audiences and customers.
There was a company headquartered in Virginia that stood out and had reached several loyal customers and celebrities like Trey Songz, Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z to name a few. The product started with screen printed T Shirts with odd placements. Later it expanded into more detailed cut and sew apparel and footwear. Two friends Todd Askins and Josh Malbon created the brand called Shmack.
It was culturally relevant and gained notoriety for pushing the limits with design. They filled a void that the market was not serving and increased market share as a result. Todd tells the story of the original run of shirts as well as how he transitioned from this industry to a world that was completely opposite, the tactical industry. He shares the common things that made him successful in a fashion career and also in e-commerce. We explore topics like photography, direct to consumer brands, and the future of consumer behavior.
When speaking with Todd, I got a good idea for what has driven him for so many years. It is very similar to what drives me. The thing that we have in common is that we both enjoy the climb, the process, and building up. He has been so successful by staying excited about his vision and executing. He shared his early days when he promoted through stickers, wheat pasting, and grass roots fashion parties.
By the end of the interview we went into the transition of Todd’s company and the realities of the retail business when dealing with massive order quantities in a business to business environment. He gives his praise to the backers and partners that helped him get it to the upper levels of the industry.
We talk about the new world that he plays in at Tactical Distributors. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are topics of discussion as they are enormous communities online where relationships must be developed and nurtured. Even though these platforms get most the love the email list is still held sacred.

1. Work on your passion.

When you do what you love you give yourself the chance to have amazing results. There is still an enormous amount of work to do to be successful and you actually have to be good.

2. Grass roots is important.

Don’t overlook the details of brand development. The obvious advice is to get your sales up but you can start with humble beginnings and make the most of the relationships you have.

3. Find good people.

Todd had good friends and partners that helped out in the beginning. He worked with experienced people that could help his company take bigger steps. When I talked to him about how he started at Tactical Distributors, the initial partnership was the key driving factor.

4. Improve quality and distribution.

A key takeaway was the fact that Todd was so focused on making the shirts better. Making adjustments that were not just cool but finding ways to offer something different than what the market already was producing led to happy customers.

5. Leverage social media.

You don’t have to show up on every platform but having a voice and showcasing your products is a good way to stay relevant. The efforts here should link back to your site but you should consider finding other ways to optimize how you can be searchable on the web. Don’t be afraid to outsource this to bring in qualified traffic.

6. Engage with giveaways.

Putting products in the hands of customers at a premium value is ideal. This is something we have done with hamiltonperkins.com and look forward to doing more at higher levels. Contests and promotions are good ways to drive interest and results.

7. Know what you want.

It’s important to know what you want to happen. Do you want to be in retail stores everywhere or do you want to sell direct to the consumer? Do you have other options? Take the time to define your destiny.

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