The man in the red velvet fedora / by Benjamin Steele

Blog #4

A memorable experience at one of America’s largest trade shows

It was Monday the 15th of February, I had just arrived at Mrket in Las Vegas, one of the largest men’s fashion trade shows in America, and the entire convention center was buzzing. You see, Mrket is a place where the fashion industry comes to life in its most genuine form. It’s sort of like having a backstage pass to see the Eagles play "Hotel California" (although not quite as awesome). At Mrket you get to see the “backstage” interactions between vendors (brands) and buyers (retail store representatives) before a product is ever placed on the shelf. This is the place where Nordstrom for example may decide to pick up a new line of neckwear. At Mrket you can guarantee that many of the major players in fashion will be present.

As I gazed the room, I saw lots of focus and also excitement. People were determined that this was the big day for their brands. After a second of observation, I started towards the men’s section of the showroom called Vanguards Gallery; it was then that I saw the man in the red velvet fedora. The man in the red velvet fedora, let’s refer to him as Isaac, seemed to be the center of attention. As he walked around the room, everyone was eager to greet him; everyone knew his name. He wore light brown wingtip dress shoes, baby blue dress socks, gray wool trousers with rolled cuffs, a classic white button up shirt, suspenders, a bow tie, and then of course the fedora. His hair was long and his beard seasoned. He had a very cheerful demeanor and a charm that would leave even your own mother blushing. I thought to myself, I must meet this man.

I connected with Isaac later that day. He was currently in the neckwear business, same as myself, although he had worked in the industry for over 40 years. By this point he had worked for many different brands, including multiple of his own. He had witnessed a variety of successes including his current endeavor that was bringing in millions of dollars of profit every year.

When I asked him what was the secret to his success, he said something that quite surprised me. With a smile at my questioning, he simply said “Oh, I don't know. I suppose it's been my own passion coupled with the help of others." Quite a humble response I thought. After speaking about it a while longer, it was obvious that he believed giving to others was as an essential component to success in fashion and any career for that instance. As you go out of your way to help others, he explained, you build an enormous group of friends that are wiling to help you as well. Some people try to rise to the top alone, but others rise to the top by surrounding themselves by good and talented people. Character, he believed, is what generally separates greatness from mediocrity.

This was perhaps the best lesson I learned that day walking the showroom floors in Las Vegas. No matter who we are, we should rarely be too busy to help others. We need to remember that it’s people who matter most. This is something I’m trying to remember.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Steele