Awards: World Trade Hall of Fame
Mow Chao Wei came to the United States in 1949 when he was thirteen. His family fled Shanghai just before the city fell to Communist rule. They settled in New York City, and he became William C. Mow. In 1967 Mow completed his doctorate in electrical engineering at Purdue University, and two years later he founded Macrodata, a company which developed and tested computer microchip technologies. Mow's successful venture captured the attention of investors, and Mow sold control of his company to a Milwaukee-based conglomerate. In 1976 the company filed a lawsuit against Mow, alleging wrongdoings, accusations which would take him twelve years to clear. When Mow left Macrodata in 1976 the noncompe tition clause in his contract prevented him from pursuing a career in the electronics field. Mow's new business enterprise would be in the apparel industry. In 1976 Mow founded Dragon International to import clothing from Asian manufacturers for American wholesalers; however, the high financial risk and relatively low margins associated with importing prompted Mow to close his business.
In 1977 Mow made a second attempt at founding an apparel business, Buckaroo International. The new company would produce casual clothing for young men under the label Bugle Boy. Even though Mow knew very little about the apparel industry, he felt that if he could design electronic components he could design, manufacture, and market pants. Despite the immediate success he achieved in the electronics field, Mow struggled to launch his new start-up. Mow's inexperience with the apparel industry resulted in several near fatal mistakes for his fledgling company, such as a product line that was too diverse, price points that were too high, and products that were introduced out of season. By 1981 Mow's assets were nearly wiped out, and the bank was canceling his line of credit. To save his company, Mow promoted Vincent Nesi, a merchandiser, to president of the company in charge of sales and merchandising, dropped the collection of expensive men's clothing, and converted the company to an item line manufacturer of moderately priced pants. After two years of struggling, the new strategy paid off, and one of the biggest fads of the 1980s, parachute pants, was launched. The tremendous success of this single item revolutionized young men's fashions, propelled the Bugle Boy label to the forefront of young men's fashions, and seemingly secured Mow's place in the apparel industry. However, when the fad passed, Bugle Boy was left with piles of nylon, and no new trendy product to replace the obsolete parachute pants. As Bugle Boy struggled to launch new, hot trends, the company decided to refocus its marketing strategy. Instead of risking the success of the company on the ability to launch fads, it would focus on building brand loyalty among consumers by producing a quality product, at a moderate price, with fashion forward styling.
This new strategy proved successful, and the tremendous popularity of the original Bugle Boy line allowed Mow to diversify Bugle Boy into other product lines and licensing agreements to provide a comprehensive line of coordinating products for men, women, boys, girls, toddlers, and infants. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, new Bugle Boy labels were launched, including Bugle Boy Co., Bugle Boy Classics, Bugle Boy for Her, and Gold Crest. The 1993 purchase of Ilio, Inc., added the women's labels Ilio by Bugle Boy, Row One, Cossette, In Place, and Coastline. These new labels target primarily men between twenty-six and fifty-four and the women's casual Friday niche. Bugle Boy also signed licensing agreements with Hampton Industries to produce men's and boy's loungewear; Merjo Enterprises to produce caps, hats, bags, and backpacks; Superba to produce men's neckwear; Keepers to produce socks; Van Mar, Inc., to produce women's intimate apparel; and several other companies to produce watches, footwear, underwear, sunglasses, belts, prescription eyewear, and small leather goods.
The Bugle Boy label provides casual wear with attitude. Bugle Boy garments are injected with small doses of the latest fashion and lifestyle trends to meet the demands of fashion-conscious young men and women. Bugle Boy jeans and washed-twill cargo pants have become part of the standard teen and young men's uniform. Bugle Boy is one of the largest privately held apparel companies in the United States, with sales regularly grossing around $500 million. The Bugle Boy line of products is carried in over 7,000 department and specialty stores; however, to maintain their brand identity, the products are not sold to discounters. The Bugle Boy label continues to provide a solid core of fashionable, comfortable, affordable separates for men, women, and children geared toward the American lifestyle.
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