Army launches attack on fashion biz

Ashley Milne-Tyte Sep 3, 2008

Army launches attack on fashion biz

Ashley Milne-Tyte Sep 3, 2008


KAI RYSSDAL: After decades of seeing its designs turned into fashion statements — think bomber jackets and cargo pants — the U.S. Army has decided to enter the branding fray itself.

It’s decided to license the use of its marks and insignias by partnering with Sears to launch an Army-inspired clothing line. The First Infantry Division collection launches next month.

Ashley Milne-Tyte reports on the Army’s attack on the fashion business.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: This Army line of clothing is more than sweatshirts with U.S. Army slapped across the chest. Amy Dimond is Sears’ fashion director. She says take the new collection’s wool officer’s coat . . .

Amy Dimond: The colors and the cut and the buttons, every single detail in it is coming directly from an archived heritage piece from the U.S. Army. So there is a great deal of authenticity to it, a lot of attention to detail.

She says the Army is determined its branded clothing will be as close to the original article as possible. And she thinks customers will respond to that.

Kevin Keller agrees. He teaches marketing and branding at Dartmouth College. He says Sears and the Army have similar target markets. And he says Sears has other initiatives aimed at helping military families.

KEVIN KELLER: In the past, I think they have been very patriotic and very supportive. So there’s sort of a natural alignment in terms of image as well as target.

As for why the Army is parading down the catwalk now, Keller says its traditional marketing campaigns aren’t working they way they used to.

KELLER: This may be seen as just one thing to make sure that they, you know, create some positives out in the marketplace that would help its recruitment. Because it’s going to be, I think, challenging going forward to be as . . . maybe as effective as they had been in the past.

Anything the Army can do to make a statement is good, he says, even a fashion statement.

I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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