In recent years we’ve become accustomed to counting Apple’s track record as far more certain than failures. However, this has not always been the case. Usually Cupertino’s company’s highest failure rates came when it decided to move away from its technology sector to focus on unrelated ones. A good example of this was the clothing line launched in the late 1980s, something that Californians no doubt prefer to forget.
Apple failed to enter the world of fashion
The saying “shoemaker to your shoes” must not have been very well known at Apple in 1986 . With the 90s almost around the corner and a company upside down after the dismissal of the genius and founder Steve Jobs, the company was trying to make a profit from its then valued brand by adding it to unsuspected products . Sweatshirts, T-shirts, pants and hats were some of the accessories where Californians decided to print their brand.
The most curious thing about this case is that these products were not merchandising as it may seem now after the passage of more than 30 years. The clothing line was marketed as if it were just another computer from that time. There were even catalogues in which we could see some of these clothes with somewhat strange descriptions in which it was a question of associating all kinds of situations with the fact of wearing Apple branded trousers or T-shirts.
The clothes as such were not entirely out of tune with the times. Even today with the return of retro fashion it could have even a small market niche. We see how as a rule, the colors and the fancy letters forming the word “Apple” were present in every garment. However did not seem to be enough to make an impression on the public. Fortunately, or unfortunately for some, they were only launched in United States .
Although the Apple brand was already recognized, the truth is that it did not have as much prestige as it has now. Especially in those years when its products were known for being expensive and sometimes even unnecessary, considering that competitors like IBM offered products that were very much on par and at infinitely lower prices. It was not in vain that the situation of their computers led Jobs to have to leave the company he founded a decade earlier with his namesake Steve Wozniak and at least known Ronald Wayne.
The marketing team at the time also failed to have sufficient knowledge of the fashion sector. A sector that has some somewhat complex barriers to entry , more so if the novices’ pretensions are to take over a large part of the market share.
Maybe you don’t know, but Apple still sells clothes
So many years later, and already being one of the most valuable companies in the world, the firm now led by Tim Cook has the sole focus on technology . It is true that its product catalogue has grown and we find telephones, tablets, computers, smart watches and even speakers or headphones, but everything is related to each other. As with services such as Apple TV+ or Apple Arcade, which are also integrated with the products.
An Apple clothing line would still be somewhat absurd today because of the impossibility of relating it to electronics. Or at least for the time being and understanding clothes as garments with no other object than to keep us warm and/or to keep us “in style”. However, products of this type are marketed, but in a specific place and with a clear objective.
In Apple Park , the company’s current headquarters in Cupertino, there is a visitor’s center in which there is an Apple Store that stands out from the rest because of the merchandising objects it has. These include T-shirts and hats with retro designs, with the Apple logo printed on them or with some legend indicating that they have been bought in the Apple Park. In this way, Apple does manage to give a certain sense and even exclusivity to its garments, but always being something purely accessory and with no other pretension than to make visitors take a souvenir.
Based on these products from the Apple Park and their good sales in visitors, ideas have emerged from many users about being able to perform similar actions in the world’s most iconic Apple stores . It would still be something exclusive as you would have to buy them in these stores physically and without the possibility of finding them in other less well-known stores such as those in shopping centres. However, this does not seem to be part of Apple’s plans at the moment.
In any case, we are happy to see that the apple company was able to stop its bad approach in time and over the years has been able to direct its efforts to products as popular today as the iPhone or iPad.