Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How to Win Friends with Influential People

Over our 53 years we’ve been fortunate enough to grow a great list of customers, some of whom have been with us for nearly that long. Most have come along over the years, independent Army/Navy and clothing stores who have grown to enjoy our great military clothing and gear and unparalleled service. As we have developed more new and exciting products, some of have eagerly taken on new merchandise while others have added it more slowly. There’s a third group who have not only been the first to order new items, their requests and feedback has helped us shape our line and develop many of the exciting military styles you see today in our catalog and at www.Rothco.com.

Recently DNR, one of the leading men’s wear trade magazines, recently released a list of America’s 50 Most Influential Men’s Wear Stores as determined by 120 sales executives at some of the leading men’s wear makers in the U.S. Of the 50 stores, three of them are customers, two of them going back almost 10 years. The stores, Up Against the Wall, Rolo and Base are all on the cutting edge of fashion, bringing in and developing new brands, often going on nothing more than instinct alone. That they have chosen to carry Rothco’s military designs is a great reflection on our customers, the people who have truly helped us develop the line.

In turn, this makes your store one of the most influential in our industry because you have helped develop the products that are featured in those cutting edge stores. Our 2007 catalog now features 13 pages of Women’s and Girls’ Clothing because you demanded it. Our Vintage Clothing line, which started with 4 colors of a single pant style now includes dozens of tops, pants, caps and jackets in 10 colors. And our Classic Packs & Sacks line totals over 3 dozen styles because that’s what you wanted.

Whether yours is an upscale clothing store in South Beach or a military surplus store in Anchorage, your customers are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting clothing and gear. Our business, like yours, is dependent on repeat customers and the only way to keep ‘em coming back is by continually bringing in the most exciting military and outdoor apparel around. For the South Beach folks, check out our new Pistol Belt Sandal pictured below with a straw sole and pistol belt style straps. And if you’re in Anchorage, you’ll love our new Woodland Camouflage Acrylic Face Mask, keeping you warm and stylish on the most frigid days.

Growing our businesses is definitely a cooperative effort. If there are any new products you’d love to see, just drop us an e-mail at info@Rothco.com and you can make our list of most influential retailers.

John Ottaviano

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Camouflage and Military Clothing are Everywhere

At Rothco, we have two very talented account executives who service the apparel industry, Darin Kaye and Luis Khoury. Besides visiting apparel stores around New York and the U.S. and seeing customers at our at 1466 Broadway New York showroom, they are constantly on the lookout for the latest in camouflage and military clothing in the stores and on the streets.

Recently, they each made some great spots within a few hours of each other. First, Luis spotted some out-of-towners lunching in Manhattan. Here’s his account of his encounter:

“While having lunch at the Mitro Cafe in the SoHo area of NYC I came across a group of women visiting our great city from California. They were in town celebrating a 40th birthday for one of the ladies. They had just come from a shooting of Good Morning America and needless to say I did a double take as I realized that all the women in the group were wearing camo.

I asked them if they would mind if I took their picture and they were very happy to oblige. I told them that I worked with Rothco and that "camo is my business". They asked for our web site and I said that with a little luck we would have their picture on our Camobloge.”

Just more proof that women just look better in camouflage. You can find a great selection of Women’s Camo here.

Then, just a few hours later, Darin spotted this gentleman along 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues wearing Rothco’s Olive Drab China Star T-Shirt . This shirt has been a proven retail winner, with sales increasing each year since it’s introduction in 2002 to become an iconic classic in fashion and Army/Navy stores worldwide. Note how well it goes with a pair of jeans, matching to classics together.

You’ll also notice that he’s standing in front of Lazzara’s Pizza home of the best pizza in the garment district. In fact, many musicians and fashionistas stop by for a slice, including Jay-Z who is currently hooked up with Beyonce, one this writer’s favorite topics. Read more about Beyonce below.

Have a great Thanksgiving all!

John Ottaviano

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey, Beyonce's in our pants!

That’s right, the woman many people (including myself) consider to be one of the world’s most beautiful is wearing Rothco’s own Women’s Vintage Paratrooper Fatigues. This is the second time in just a few months that Beyonce has graced Camobloge and I’m pretty happy to have any excuse to post a picture of this fine looking woman on our blog. Beyonce is pictured from the cover story of Elle Magazine

One of Beyonce’s greatest features is that she’s a woman with a figure, actual curves, that make our Vintage Fatigues look even better and why our Fatigues look so good on her. The title of the article is “Natural Woman” and the pants provide a natural yet fashionable look.

In a video of the shoot on the Elle magazine website, Beyonce comments on the clothing, saying “The concept of the shoot is metallic gold mixed with army fatigues or khakis and it’s fabulous, it’s very simple but it’s still really glamorous and sexy. I love for whatever I wear to be something that I would love ten years from now and that’s what I’m concentrating on, making sure it’s something that’s timeless but still young and funky. So I like to mix a harder edge with something really feminine. I like the contrast. Definitely what you put on says a lot about your character.”

Sounds a lot like the way we described the typical Rothco customer in our post of July 7th , so it’s nice to know that Beyonce is a Rothco kind of girl. And it’s right in keeping with the goal we have for our women’s clothing line, feminine with that Rothco edge that makes the person who wears it stand out from a crowd.

We’ve already received several phone calls from consumers who’ve seen the article. Not a bad idea to post a copy of the image above near your front register or display of Women’s Vintage Paratrooper Fatigues. I’m thinking most of your customers wouldn’t mind looking like Beyonce. Our pants have never looked so good.

A special thanks to Jim Korn at Kaufman’s Army Navy for making this happen! By the way, click on the underlined text above to see links to more pictures and video of Beyonce from Elle Magazine.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Hook Up

The consumers that shop in your Army-Navy and apparel stores are great folks, but they desperately need your help. You see, they don’t know how to deal with this military fashion thing. They know they want it and they may even pick up those great Rothco Vintage Paratrooper Fatigue Pants, but you’re losing out on a great sales opportunity if they don’t walk out of your place with the Hook Up.

What’s a Hook Up? While some of you selling street fashion know exactly what I speak of, there are others of you that may not be familiar with the term. Basically, you need to set them up with an entire ensemble including top, bottom and accessories (see picture to the right). Shoppers, especially men, will often just point to a mannequin that has the look they want and say, “Give me that!” And instead of just selling a pair of pants, you can sell the pants, top, t-shirt, cap, belt, etc. What was once a $39.95 sale is now closer to $129.95. Do that a few times a day, and your business becomes a whole different ballgame. By the way, this hook up consists of a 2866 Woodland Camo Special Forces Vintage Fatigue Shirt, 2562 Brown Vintage Paratrooper Fatigue Pants, 4147 Black Vintage D-Ring Belt and 10200 Military Sunglasses.

Even though Halloween is past, it’s not too early to start thinking about your merchandising for next year. Most retailers I spoke to had record Halloween seasons, but some folks say that they just don’t have any Halloween business. If your in America (except certain parts of Utah) you have Halloween. But it won’t necessarily come to you; you have to go get it. Merchandising is a big key. Put together some adult and kids soldier uniforms from boots to pants to tops to hat to pistol belt and accessories. Jeff Goldsmith from Joe’s Army Navy told me of a great idea. He takes all those messed up dog tags from misprints and puts them into sets and sells them off as cheap costume accessories. He also said that S.W.A.T. and Tactical uniforms were big sellers this Halloween. Hook Up a mannequin like the Ultra Force Poster at left (you can get a poster like that FREE from Rothco - use item #UNP on your next order) and watch some high end Tactical Vests fly out the door. Richard Geist at Uncle Sam’s had the same kind of success with tactical costumes.

Sell scrubs? Then put a set together with a stethoscope and there you go, Grey’s Anatomy (thanks again to Jeff Goldsmith). For the ladies, sexy costumes are preferred over scary, so camouflage pants or a camouflage skirt paired with a Pink Army tee gives just the right mix of sweet and sassy.

Whatever the season, keep those mannequin and window displays rotated every month or two. You have plenty of regular customers who come by often, give them something new to look at every time they come. Even if you have the same merchandise, changing your displays will make old goods seem brand new.

Got any more ideas? Just click on the comments link below or e-mail me at john.ottaviano@rothco.com. We’d love to hear YOUR success stories.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The most wonderful time of the year…. Merry Halloweemas?

Yes, I know, I’m mixing up my holidays, but then again so are your customers. Don't worry, it’s all good.

We are wrapping up the Halloween holiday, a favorite of Army/Navy and military apparel retailers, and one that has been particularly strong according to most of those I talk to. And there’s even BETTER news on the horizon for the 2006 holiday shopping season.

Here’s the upside: according to a National Retail Federation survey reported on http://www.emarket.com/, the average holiday shopper is planning on spending $791.10 this season, about 7% more than last year. The interesting (and confusing) thing is that over 40% of these shoppers plan on beginning their shopping in October or before. I guess that’s why I’ve already seen ads from Lowe’s home improvement stores on TV.

But I have even better news for all of you independent retailers out there. According to the survey (you can see it here ), 66% of buyers 18-24 and over 50% of buyers 25 - 44 plan on doing their holiday shopping at Specialty Stores including specialty CLOTHING retailers. That would include just about every retailer currently buying from Rothco or reading this blog. What’s more, older shoppers are LESS likely to do their holiday shopping at specialty stores.

What should YOU do about this? Start stocking product and marketing towards younger consumers. You can begin with some of Rothco’s Vintage Fatigues and Women’s Clothing. Pick up some of our Hooded Sweatshirts (the kids love da hoodies!) or some of our great new Vintage Canvas Bags. Put some of this exciting new product in your store window. Collect your customers’ e-mail addresses on a list near the front register and send out new product announcements and specials each month. Put an ad in the local high school or college newspapers.

With cooler-than-normal weather already covering most of the U.S., a bright holiday forecast and sharply lower gasoline prices, there is every reason to be optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. If you need more ideas on how to have a great 2006 holiday season, check out Rothco.com or give us a call at 800-645-5195.

Enjoy the holiday, whichever it is!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It’s still Halloween, it’s just a little greener

A few weeks ago our founder, Milton Somberg, brought me an article from the New York Times entitled “Army’s Fashion Fatigue” where a career Army bride bemoans the passing of the traditional military Woodland Camouflage Battle Dress Uniform (B.D.U.) in favor of the new Digital Camouflage Army Combat Uniform (A.C.U.). While it was an interesting read, it really didn’t move me much since, being in the industry, I’ve already grown accustomed to the new Army uniforms. (You can read the article here:

Then, this afternoon, I was checking sales of our kids’ camouflage uniforms as we head into the last days before “the most wonderful time of the year” in the Army-Navy business, Halloween. This is our first year carrying the kids’ Army Digital Camouflage uniforms and sales have been just great, quickly becoming our second best seller to the ever-popular Woodland Camouflage. I also noticed that our sales of the kids’ woodland fatigues are down just a bit. Then it hit me. Not only will our soldiers look different, but now so will all those trick-or-treaters walking down sidewalk. More and more of them will be in the green and tan Army Digital Camo and less and less in the old Woodland. This is more of what I call the “CNN factor” where the latest military uniforms show up on cable news and create a demand in the local Army-Navy store. When we first went into Iraq, that meant tremendous demand for the Tri-Color Desert Camo. Now it means kids wearing the Digital Camo in big numbers. (For the record, that's Sales Manager Hans' son in the Digital fatigues. We call him "Pretty Boy" after the horse he rode in Zion Canyon)

I hope your Halloween season has been shaping up well, ours has been very strong. The National Retail Federation projected costume sales to jump 50 percent this year with princesses, pirates and witches anticipated to be the leading costumes. If you’ve been stocking any of the dozens of skull tees and headgear that Rothco has been offering, you still have a few days to merchandise these together as pirate accessories. Any one of our skull headwraps or bandanas makes a perfect accessory item to for all those pirate costumes folks will be putting together over the next few days.

I’d love to hear about YOUR Halloween success stories as the season winds down. Just click on the comments link below or e-mail me at john.ottaviano@rothco.com

Have a very green Halloween!!

John Ottaviano

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

We beat Katrina, but got edged out by the Calendar

It’s a fact of life in the Army/Navy and Outdoor industry that calamities around the world can cause a great upsurge in business. In April 2003, for instance, as the U.S. military was entering Iraq, Army/Navy stores around the United States were swamped with requests from both soldiers and the military for equipment from t-shirts and socks to backpacks and M-16 clips. Rothco and our thousands of dealers responded to that demand and provided thousands of our men and women in combat with needed equipment. While we were glad to provide this service, it is with heavy hearts that we see our young people go off to combat and the increased business is accompanied by sobering realities.

A similar situation occurred last September just after Hurricane Katrina and the other Gulf Coast storms that hit the Southeastern U.S. In the immediate aftermath, Rothco and its employees reached out to their customers in the area to offer assistance and donated generously to groups helping in the area. Businesses in the area that remained open placed large orders for emergency supplies such as cots, ready-to-eat meals and blankets as well as military clothing for soldiers, public safety personnel and relief workers.

Sales of our military and fashion clothing were already strong that month, so the additional sales from the emergency supplies gave us the strongest September in our history. This September, we released the new 2007 Rothco Catalog with hundreds of new products. Even we were surprised by how well you received the new merchandise. Items like our Vintage Long Sleeve Henley, Special Forces Vintage Fatigue Shirts, Black Vintage Fatigue Cap w/Jolly Roger, Pink Camouflage T-Shirts, Womens Vintage Flyers Jacket, Pink Tee w/Camo Army Print, Womens Subdued Pink Camo Vintage fatigues and all those great new vintage bags from our Classic Packs & Sacks line, along with our regular merchandise, were obviously just what you were looking for because you bought them in great numbers. Top selling items for September 2005 like cots and Ready-to-Eat meals were replaced by Messenger Bags, Vintage M-65 Field Jackets and the old classic, the nylon MA-1 Flight Jacket.

At the end of the month, we were pleasantly surprised to see that our sales per day in September 2006 were actually MORE than September 2005. Only the fact that there was one less billing day in September 2006 kept us from having a record-breaking September sales total. In the end, we were actually busier this September, during what is thankfully a very quiet hurricane season. We were all able to have strong sales without the mixed feelings that come from the business surge we see after an emergency.

If you haven’t received our new 2007 Rothco Catalog, go to http://www.rothco.com/general/index.cfm?fuseaction=catrequest and send us a catalog request. Current dealers should have received our 2007 New Products Flyer featuring the best of our new products for the season. If you haven’t received yours yet, shoot us an e-mail at bdus@Rothco.com and we’ll send you one.

October is the next challenge. Our biggest month ever was October 2001, when patriotic merchandise and Halloween soldier costumes were all the rage after 9/11. Nothing would please us more than to eclipse that number and we are well on our way. With Halloween coming soon and the National Retail Federation, saying that Americans will spend about $5 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations and treats in 2006, up 51 percent from last year, things are looking good. Especially if you’re a pirate. More on that in the next blogpost.

For more on the NRF Halloween Survey, go to http://www.nrf.com/content/default.asp?folder=press/release2006&file=halloween06.htm

John Ottaviano

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Cut Above the Rest...

One of our sales reps, a young gun named Mike Schnorr, showed me this picture from King, a high-tech urban magazine. They picture a pair of fatigues made by Antik Denim, a high-end jeans company. With some beautiful and elaborate Japanese-inspired embroidery, they sell for $3000!!! They have sold 2 pairs so far, both to singer Sean Paul (who, not coincidentally I pictured in an earlier blog from Tuesday, September 05, 2006, Camouflage as a Caribbean Costume).

Now look at the picture below it. Look familiar? That's right, they're the same exact pair of pants (thanks to our Graphic Artist, Chuck Lupo for the picture). Antik Denim has turned our $39.99 retail pants into something that costs more than a 1997 Honda Accord. Does it bother us? Of course not! In fact, we're flattered.

What does this mean to our dealers and consumers? It means that they're getting one helluva deal on a great pair of military fatigues. Antik Denim is NOT going to put $2950 worth of embroidery on just any pair of pants. After all, these aren't just clothes, they're a work of art!

Speaking of art, there was a great article in the Chicago Sun-Times last week about the latest military fashion trends. It quotes Sandra Michaels Adams, who teaches clothing history and the role of dress in society at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She says some very interesting things like, "Camouflage has clearly become part of the 20th and 21st century fashion vocabulary," she says. "We selectively and collectively use these elements in new ways. They go out of the closet; they go back in. I do see them wearing military-style jackets -- olive drab, khaki. We're seeing a return to these colors. "

Later in the article, Roy Behrens, (no relation to Rothco buyer Diane Behrens) author of False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage says of the camouflage fashion trend, "it's really been going on for a long time but it's built up slowly and there seems to be a crescendo right now." Now hearing about camo clothing from authors and educators is one thing, but check out what Laura McDowell, fashion spokeswoman for T.J. Maxx says about camo this fall, "it's a huge trend for kids. Boys love the baggy look. What's different this year is that we're seeing it in things other than pants and shorts. It's in bookbags, backpacks and workout wear. Younger girls are wearing camo Ts with pink and blue backgrounds, and McDowell says that older women often shop T.J. Maxx's junior department for these trendy looks."

Hmmm, camo and pink combinations for girls.... Who would have thought of that? Well, you know who. There's a picture on the right of our hottest tee for girls and women this season, our pink tee with Camo Army print.

There's a link below for the entire Chicago Sun-Times article, check it out, it's an interesting read. By the way, you'll note that they quote an "Army Navy retailer" in the article. This is the retail location for one of the suppliers in our industry. Unlike that supplier, Rothco doesn't do retail. We don't compete with our partners, we support them. And then write to our partners in our blog.


John Ottaviano

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Start Spreading the News...

In the space of just four days, two news organizations ran features highlighting miltary fashion. This one on the left was in the New York Post, one of America's largest papers, touting the hipness of camouflage and military clothing in all of it's various facets. Notice that two Rothco products are prominently featured, our Vintage Blazer and our new Desert Camo Tank. Thanks to Soldiercity for the placement and the copy of the article.

The second article was run by the news agency Reuters that focuses on financial and corporate news. It discusses the relationship between world events and the current military fashion trend. I'm no political analyst, but it is surely more than coincidental that there is a great demand for military fashion at the same time as we are in our most serious conflict since the Vietnam War. Now that I think about, the '60s were a strong period for military clothing as well.

The article by Claudia Parsons speaks about what I call the 'CNN factor' where images appearing frequently on T.V. make them known commodities to the consumer market:
"With the United State engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, images of khaki-clad soldiers appear on television news daily.

"World events often times influence fashion, and that's why we're seeing accents of military," said Sherry Maysonave, an image consultant and author of "Casual Power." "These images have an effect on our psyche."

"Camouflage is huge even in children's and babies' wear, not just adult fashion," she added. "

You can read the whole article here: http://tinyurl.com/mx8l4

Reminds me of the old Talking Head's song, "Life During Wartime" where David Byrne confronts the paranoid early '80s with a song about about going underground. If the times seem a little scary to some people, then the best way to confront it is to be prepared and attack it straight on, outfitted for combat. As I've said in earlier blogs, the Rothco military clothing customer is a bit edgier and tougher than the average person and is looking for clothing to make that same statement. In any case, it's selling for men, women, children and babies. As I type this, an e-mail has just come across my desktop announcing the addition of new Infant Camouflage Crib Caps in Woodland & Baby Pink Camo (see picture). And it's appearing in newspapers all over the country.

You, too, can get that same kind of exposure, especially in less populated areas. Newspapers routinely list e-mail addresses of their correspondents, so look for the address of the style or feature writer for your local paper. You can look in the print edition or on their website. Send them some images of Rothco fashion from our website and let them know how popular they are in your store or just point them to this blog. Guide them towards the latest camo fashion items available in your store, right in their local area. It will be a good story for them and great publicity for your business.

Speaking of baby camo, we've been doing so well selling camouflage fashion clothing for men, women, kids and babies that we've added a new line of girls' camouflage clothing and it's done very nicely. After years of outifitting thousands of kids with smaller versions of our real military clothing, it's fun to be selling such fashionable clothing for girls, especially since I'm the father of three girls myself.

You can see our full line of girl's clothing at www.Rothco.com or go here:
Rothco Girls' Camo Clothing

I'll look for your store in the headlines.

John Ottaviano

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Camouflage in Clubland

Wanna party? Check out the flyer to the left for the MySpace Military Ball at Posh Ultralounge in Garden City, NY. It just happens to be one of the coolest clubs on Long Island, frequented by the young and beautiful saddled with too much disposable income, including some of the hottest players on the division winning New York Mets (rumor has it this is where Mets' catcher Paul Lo Duca got into a bit of hot water).

Interestingly, it combines two of the trends I've been writing about, camouflage clothing and blogging. If you check the fine print, you'll notice that all the young dogs and hotties are encouraged to wear their hottest camouflage outfits. Camouflage as clubwear, what a concept! Who would have thought of such a thing? Well, of course, Rothco would. We've been making sure young women and men look hot in their finest camo for years now and our women's offerings have just EXPLODED!! Our new 2007 catalog features no less than 12 pages of women's clothing and accessories. The hottest item so far is our Pink Tee w/Camo Army Print pictured below. Check out our full offerings at www.Rothco.com. If you don't already have our 2007 catalog, then e-mail us at bdus@rothco.com

If you're already carrying the latest Rothco fashion, why not contact one of the local clubs or promoters in your area about holding their own Miliatary Ball? Some promoters may only ask you to post notices and hand out flyers at the register to co-sponsor an event. You both have the same customers, you should work together to market each other's product. Club kids are great customers for military and camouflage apparel.

Did you also notice that this is a MySpace Military Ball? If you're not aware (and it's hard to not be) MySpace is the #1 social networking and blogging site in the world. After being a hot commodity for the under 30 crowd, it's now becoming a key marketing tool, especially for music and films. People like Somaya Reese have become huge celebrities using just MySpace as a marketing tool. According to DNR, MySpace will be offering a fashion channel next year and you can be sure Rothco will be all over THAT! As I've written before, blogging will be THE communication tool for business. To read more, see my e-zine article here.

Hopefully I'll see you at the Miltary Ball tonight. I'll be the one wearing the Rothco Vintage Paratrooper Fatigues. But I'm sure I won't be the only one.

John Ottaviano

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Camouflage as a Caribbean Costume

Camobloge took an extra day last week so we could report on the camoflauge scene from the biggest party in North America, the West Indian American Day Carnival which attracted 2 million people from all over the United States and the Carribean. Walking back to our car from the parade, my daughters counted 200 out-of-state license plates in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn where our car was parked (many thanks to the Maryland vehicle who was parked so close in front of us I had to 'nudge' him out of our way). This party is much larger even than New Orlean's Mardi Gras (click on the blogpost title to read a recent news report).

While camouflage is all the rage in mainstream America, there are some who have predicted its demise in the Urban market. As the attached pictures show, everyone from young girls to Caribbean pop star Sean Paul were wearing camouflage (he's the one in the aviator sunglasses). While it wasn't much of a surprise to see many of the masses on the parade route wearing military clothing, it was interesting to note that many of the participants in the parade were wearing camouflage as well.

The feedback we are getting from many urban clothing outlets is that some of the usual urban distribution channels have not shown confidence in the military trend for Fall 2006, but the urban customer is still very hot for this product. Fear not, oh urban retailers!! Rothco has excellent inventory in thousands of products for immediate delivery in sizes from 3 months to 8XL, including all those big sizes your urban customer demands. From tees to pants to outerwear, we have everything you will need this fall and winter selling season.

One of the most popular items on the street yesterday was a familar standard, the Camouflage Ranger Vest. With loads of pockets, a large game bag in back and authentic details like shell loops and a collar-hidden hood, this vest works as hard as it looks. Check it out here:

By the way, it's not too soon to plan to come to next year's Carnival. Labor Day is September, 3 2007. Go to http://www.wiadca.org/ for info. You'll notice that several marchers on their home page are wearing camouflage. See you next year.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Camouflage is Everywhere, From the Street to the Stage

We have a special guest blogger this week, Mike Schnorr, Rothco Sales Associate as well as fashionista and hipster:

The relationship between the music industry and the fashion world is tighter than Beyonce and Jay-Z. At the MAGIC show coming up next week in Las Vegas, all kinds of music artists will be showing and promoting clothing lines including their own. Just by wearing a garment, whether out in public or to 50,000 people while on stage, musicians can have a tremendous influence on the buying decisions of music fans. It constantly leaves an impression in the minds of the viewers.

I recently attended KTU’s Beatstock 2006, a huge dance music festival in New York (please see pictures below). I was absolutely blown away by the amount of camouflage clothing that adorned the fans and the musicians. The assortment of styles was broad, from thermals to hoodies to track jackets to shorts and even fitted camo baseball caps promoting their favorite team. And that was just the crowd. Almost 50% of the performers wore camo and military looks and if they didn’t, then their backup dancers did.

The bottom line is camo is here to very much in the forefront of fashion in the music industry and on the street. Performers and club kids alike love the aggressive statement it makes and the attitude it projects. This influence from musicians is felt worldwide the minute they appear on MTV wearing these looks. For the foreseeable future, we forecast strong sales of military looks. Keep your eyes open and never know who you will see wearing it next.

Friday, August 18, 2006

"We're trying to change the world"

With a sneaker. That was what Stephon Marbury of the Knicks said about his new sneaker that premiered August 16 in a discount sportswear chain. He introduced a new value-priced basketball shoe, trying to serve the type of people he grew up with back in Coney Island.

Rothco can certainly get behind that. We've been trying to change the world one sneaker, pair of pants and t-shirt at a time since 1953. Our Vintage Paratrooper Fatigue line offers the type of quality you'll see in specialty shops for close to $100 at a mere $39.99 suggested retail. And we have sneakers, too, great camouflage High-Top Sneakers in Woodland, Desert and Pink Camouflage that retail for just $15.99. They're so cool that the style watchers at Cool Hunting did a whole write-up on them (see http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2006/02/rothko_camo_fla.php)

Can a sneaker, or any garment for that matter, really change the world? I'm not really sure, but when people are comfortable and secure in the clothes they wear, then they're more likely to feel confident and act assertively in their daily activities. And if we in the clothing industry can really make people feel comfortable and better about themselves, then haven't we actually changed that person's world?

If you're interested in seeing more on Rothco's cool camouflage sneakers, click on the big R at the right or click here.

And if you want to read more about Stephon Marbury's new sneaker, click on the title of this post.

Enjoy the change of world.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Vacation all I ever wanted, vacation how can you get away...

Yes, it's that time of year, everybody heading out across the U.S., to the beaches, the mountains, the city and the country. I've been traveling a bit myself, which is why the blog's been a bit on the quiet side.

In fact, this summer I've been to the mountains (Poconos, Catskills), the beaches (Long Island, Cape Cod), the city (New York, of course, Allentown), the country (Fishkill, Phoenixville, Barnstable), and even places that defy categorization (Provincetown, MA). The one constant is that everywhere I've been this summer, on all kinds of people, I've seen an endless stream of camouflage and military-inspired clothing.

Take yesterday afternoon for instance. I was taking an evening bike ride around Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island, right near my home. Believe it or not, this is easily the most international beach anywhere in the world. I heard music from reggaeton to Slavic folk music. There were women dancing in saris, men playing cricket, and folks sitting, talking and putting a little goat on the barbecue. I spoke to people from Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Maryland and even visitors from overseas. The park had a group under every tree and every piece of grass, not to mention the beach.

Even with all that diversity, I saw kids and adults wearing camo tees, shorts, caps in Woodland, Desert, Pink Camo and more. It was everywhere.

How much has camouflage invaded the public conciousness? Check out this picture of Justin Timberlake from GQ, with his Marines physical training t-shirt and camouflage fatigues. Can you say wannabe? Of course. But that's the thing about military clothing, even Justin Timberlake looks like a hardass in camouflage.

In any event, vacation time is over here at Rothco and we're getting ready for showtime. We'll be at the Surplus Dealer's show at the Las Vegas Convention Center next week and at the biggest fashion trade show on earth, the MAGIC show at the Vegas Convention Center at booth 33036ST in the Streetwear section. If you want to see the latest in cutting edge camouflage gear, definitely check us out.

And if you haven't gone yet, have a great vacation.

Friday, July 07, 2006

They sell thousands for $149.50. How many can you sell for $39.99?

The ad to the right shows a lovely camo blazer advertised at Macy's for $149.50.

This is a really nice jacket from a fancy designer with stores on Rodeo Drive and Dubai who sells to places like Neiman Marcus and Sak's. His mission is "to bring our vision of a jet-set, luxury lifestyle to women and men around the globe."

Check out the jacket below. This is our women's Vintage Camouflage Blazer. Suggested list price is $39.99. Now besides the fact that we've done military and camouflage clothing for 53 years and they've been doing it for about 15 minutes, we also view the Rothco customer a little differently. We actually sat down and talked about who the Rothco customer is and this is what we came up with:

"Our customer is tough, a bit controversial, likes the outdoors and doesn't take any stuff from anyone. She is young or young-at-heart and has a certain energy. When it's time to work, he gets down to it, and wants his clothing and gear to do the same. She is what her clothing is, hardcore."

Sorry about the mixed he/she pronouns, but it applies as much to our female customers as to the males. Not the type of people to be hanging out on Rodeo Drive or Palm Beach, but more likely to actually be out there living, whether in the great outdoors or on the streets. Real people who want Real Military Clothing. They like our clothing for its quality as well as its value. She doesn't have the time or the money to waste on chi-chi boutiques. She also knows that looking sharp doesn't mean she has to sacrifice quality or take out another mortgage.

Just click on the title of the article to check out more on Rothco's womens blazers and vintage military clothing. If you're looking for $150 women's jackets, I'm sorry, but you'll have to go to Rodeo Drive.

Have a great weekend wherever you are.

John Ottaviano

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rothco Shorts a Top Seller at Up Against the Wall

It was a very cool surprise to open up the July 12th issue of DNR, the bible of the men's clothing world, and see Ruth Benaflor of Up Against the Wall say how well our shorts were selling for her. It's great to get compliments, but there's nothing better a retailer can say than that your product is making them money.

We carry a monster selection of military-style cargo shorts, from standard B.D.U. shorts to our Xtra Long Length to the Vintage Paratrooper Shorts that Up Against the Wall does so well with. We don't make the cheapest shorts around but we try to make the best. Our vintage shorts have lots of cool features like oversized cargo pockets, an inside waistband drawstring and soft, washed cotton blend material. I'm not surprised people like them so much.

I bet some of you are thinking that Rothco's 'gone all Hollywood' but nothing could be further from the truth. We are very conscious of our roots with the independent army/navy retailer and clothing stores. We're not going to get all exclusive. But it is nice to see our product succeed alongside the 'heavy hitters' of the industry.

John Ottaviano

Click on the title of the post for a PDF of the DNR article.

Click here to see our Vintage Shorts,

and our B.D.U. Combat Cargo Shorts are here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Uncommon Courtesy in a New York Minute

In an article in the July issue of Reader's Digest on the courtesy of 35 major cities around the world, New York, yes, that's right, New York was deemed to be the most courteous. London? Vienna? Sydney? Fuggedaboutit. They've got nothing on us New Yorkers. (click on the title of this post to read the full article)

How'd they determine this? Here's a quote from the article:
"The routine in New York was similar to the one followed elsewhere: Two reporters -- one woman and one man -- fanned out across the city, homing in on neighborhoods where street life and retail shops thrive. They performed three experiments: "door tests" (would anyone hold one open for them?); "document drops" (who would help them retrieve a pile of "accidentally" dropped papers?); and "service tests" (which salesclerks would thank them for a purchase?)."

New York scored an astounding 80%! They opened doors, helped pick up dropped papers, and most importantly, said thank you after a shopper made a purchase. That part is particularly amazing considering not only did they say 'thank you' the most, but they always give THE FASTEST SERVICE IN THE WORLD!! If you've never been in a New York deli or bagel shop, you haven't seen some of the fastest hands in the world making sandwiches, cutting bagels and taking the money. Then, after you get your stuff in a New York minute, they say "thanks" and go on to the next customer.

What does this have to do with camouflage clothing? Not much if you don't care when you get it. But for dealers looking for product quickly AND courteously, there really is no better place than Rothco. In all honesty, speed and service and courtesy is a bit of an obsession around here. We call it Ultra Service. You'll call it, "hey, I got these great military clothes quick and they were really nice about it." Same thing, really.

And I'm sure the same thing holds true in YOUR store, whether it's in polite New York, or Sheboygan, Junction City, Kenner or Los Angeles. It's important for us to remember who pays our salaries. Give them the best service possible and then say 'thanks' for the pleasure of doing so.

"Thank you" for reading along.

John Ottaviano