The apparel industry is changing, and you might not even recognise it if you haven’t watched closely.
Traditionalists will remember the good old days when clothing was more functional and less flashy, but those days are gone. Thanks to technological advances and the rise of streetwear, traditional methods of retail aren’t enough any more.
In fact, two of the most prominent apparel companies in the world are now owned by Chinese groups. Specifically, the owner of the Raceway brand is the CHN Group, a company whose shares are publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The owner of the Speedway brand is also a CHN Group company, and it goes by the name of EMEAL.
What this means for you, the reader, is that if you’re looking to invest in the U.S. stock market, you might have stumbled upon a great opportunity, as these brands have some truly amazing growth potential.
The Rise Of The Metaphysical Cowboy
To understand why these two American brands are so successful today, you have to travel back in time to when they were first established. It all started with a young man by the name of Clint Murchison, who, upon returning home from World War II, had the good fortune of being born into a wealthy family.
In the 1940s, the American economy was booming as never before, and it was a combination of things – the government’s willingness to promote domestic production and consumption, as well as the country’s newfound sense of patriotism following the war – that fuelled the growth of these two brands. It’s interesting to note that Murchison founded the Murchison Oil Company in 1939, which became part of the Saudi Arabian oil company, Aramco, and which was later bought out by a firm named Texaco in 1960.
The Birth Of A Classic Brand
The story of Raceway begins with a little-known but highly prestigious French brand called Louis Vuitton, which was established in 1854. Louis Vuitton is known for a number of things, including its handbags and its men’s ready-to-wear, and it’s often considered one of the most iconic luxury brands in the world. It would be an understatement to say that Louis Vuitton is a powerhouse.
In 1980, the original Louis Vuitton store on Madison Avenue in New York City was destroyed by fire, allegedly because of an electrical fault. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and business continued as usual. A couple of weeks later, the store was opened again, but this time an entirely new facade was put up. The design of the building was highly influenced by its original Louis Vuitton store. In 2006, Louis Vuitton celebrated the 150th anniversary of its store in New York City, and it unveiled a new Madison Avenue store that was a nod to its history. It wasn’t long before people were comparing it to the original Louis Vuitton store.
Traditional Vs. Contemporary Design
Not only does the style of the new Madison Avenue store reflect that of the original Louis Vuitton store, but it also evokes the style of its famed Parisian store. The reason for this is that, during the 19th century, Paris was considered the style capital of the world, and the French style of haute couture still influences the design of luxury brands today. The design of the new Madison Avenue Louis Vuitton store incorporates elements of haute couture, including a dramatic use of colour and texture. The combination of ornamental stitching, bright flashes of colour, and smooth leather are all hallmarks of haute couture.
Not too long ago, fashion wasn’t nearly as flashy as it is today, and brands like Louis Vuitton stuck to staples like plain white T-shirts and solid dark colours due to a lack of creativity. However, as the ‘80s rolled in, fashion became increasingly more vibrant, and designers began to experiment with different materials and different colours. Today, fashion is just as likely to inspire your home décor as your clothing collection.
Now, let’s take a trip back in time to when Speedway was first established. In 1949, another young man named Forrest “Farmer” Brown launched a brand with the same name, and he named it after the high-speed automobile racetracks that were becoming popular at the time. The first store that Brown opened was in Dallas, Texas, and his design aesthetic was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus movement, an influential art and design school that was formed in Germany in the early 20th century.
In 1967, a young man named Steve McQueen bought a controlling stake in the company, and the following year, he opened a second store in London. It wasn’t long before celebrities began to associate themselves with this budding brand, and in 1972, it was acquired by a company called Parklane Holdings. The brand continues to grow, and today, there are over 450 stores in 35 countries, with headquarters in London.
A Brand Naming Legend
If you’ve ever shopped at Speedway, you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the brand. For decades, it was one of the most prominent American clothing brands, not just in the sportswear industry, but in all of fashion. You’ll regularly see people wearing the iconic American flag on their shirts.
The company was first recognised for designing and manufacturing customised leather goods for the U.S. Army. When the military used to wear out their entire uniform within a couple of marches, it was clear that something needed to be done. As a result, a group of entrepreneurs, including two of the most prominent fashion designers of the 20th century, Ralph Lauren and Miles Spencer, came together and founded Speedway in 1949. They decided to provide the U.S. Army with a more practical and stylish solution to their continual uniform issue. Thus, the first store opened its doors in New York City, and it was an instant hit, due in large part to the fact that it offered a fresh approach to everyday dressing.
It wasn’t long before people were comparing the styling of the Speedway brand to Hubert de Givenchy’s work. The French designer is best known for creating the ball gown that Elizabeth Taylor wore at her wedding to Prince John in 1960. He designed this dress, and it was constructed from organza and crepe de Chine. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and it was one of the few times that Taylor’s dress was more practical than decorative.
In 1976, Ralph Lauren acquired a controlling stake in the company. A couple of years later, in 1978, he opened a third Speedway store in Paris. It was there, in Paris, that the fashion world began to discover the unique style of Speedway. The brand was already hot property in Europe, so it was only a matter of time before people started associating it with the city of lights. Ralph Lauren’s love for the French capital is obvious in the third store’s décor, which is inspired by the style of the city’s most prominent department stores.
While some people love to boast about the number of celebrities that have worn Speedway‘s clothing, the brand is just as likely to inspire your home décor as your fashion collection. After all, the brand is known for its brightly coloured and patterned fabrics that scream “cheese”, and those are colours and designs that you can easily incorporate into your own home.