The tradition of a designer using their namesake as their company name still runs strong; however, it isn’t the only approach. And perhaps it isn’t even the best one as it can invite legal headaches down the road. So, unless you feel your name and creations are seamlessly joined, you might want to consider not naming your fashion company after yourself. The names below can help get your imagination in gear.
Dirty Pineapple is a name with lots of slang meanings, from a martini made of pineapple juice, vodka, and olive brine (created by an unknown Mexican chef no less) to a fruit that is weirdly combined with ham and eaten on pizza. These slang meanings play to the brand’s contrarian aesthetic.
Takeaway: Slang — and colloquial language in general — can be a rich resource for naming. That said, unless it makes sense with your brand, avoid slang meanings that are exclusively obscene or offensive.
Noon By Noor
The initial of one of Noon by Noor’s founders, is the Arabic letter “n” (pronounced “nune”). Spelling the sound of this letter as “noon” evokes the brightness of day. This relates to one of the founders’ names, as Noor in Arabic means “light”. The moniker gains additional style through the repetition of the letter “o”.
Takeaway: When creating names, look for ways foreign words and letters might be turned into English words. Too, think about the visuals of a name. Spelling the Arabic letter “n” as “nune” would not have only lost the sense of “noon”, but it would have been less visually appealing.
According to Arijit Muzumdar, who founded Northmist, along with Smrity Gupta, the name speaks to direction (north) and clouds (mist), implying the company is expansive —moving skyward. Both “north” and “mist” also evoke freshness and coolness — two attributes which complement the brand’s clean materials and natural feel.
Takeaway: Names do no always have to tightly tie to a position to work. Northmist, for example, has nothing to do with organic, natural, or apparel. Nonetheless, it is a much more memorable mark than a name like Fresh Look.
According to Heidi Zak, the co-founder of ThirdLove, a woman truly loves an item of clothing for three reasons: style, fit, and feel (comfort). ThirdLove strives to design bras that check off all three.
Takeaway: ThreeLoves might more accurately capture the idea of a bra that checks off three boxes: style, fit, and feel. The founders, however, preferred the more ambiguous ThirdLove. This is a good choice. In naming (and maybe life in general), a bit of mystery piques peoples’ imaginations.
Rent the Runway
What does the name Rent the Runway have in common with LuluLemon and Weddington Way beyond all being apparel? All three brand names use alliteration—the occurrence or repetition of similar or identical stressed consonant sounds.
Takeaway: If using a more descriptive or functional sounding name, pay special attention to the name’s auditory quality. The use of alliteration and other literary devices like assonance (repetition of vowel sounds), or consonance (the recurrence of consonants that often in the middle or end of words) are like magic–they can transform a boring descriptive name into a memorable one.
Queen of Raw
Bringing jarringly different words together — in this case “queen” and “raw”—is an effective way to create striking names. Queen of Raw, is an effective way to create striking names. The word “queen” with its suggestions of power, wealth, and refinement, sits oddly (but wonderfully) with the more organic and primal image evoked by the word “raw”.
Takeaway: When done artfully, partnering words with radically different associations can lead to highly unusual names. Queen of Fabric would be bland, whereas Queen of Raw takes the mind to a whole new place.
A bonobo is a rare anthropoid ape that inhabits a small area in equatorial Africa. The menswear apparel company, Bonobos, supports a non-governmental organization that works to protect the endangered Bonobos ape. The elegance of these chimps — their limbs are longer and their builds less thick than the common chimp — makes this name an excellent fit with this brand.
Takeaway: Using a name that reflects a supported cause, assuming the commitment is not just window-dressing, provides a chance to raise awareness of the cause while speaking about the brand. This works especially well with a cause that is associated with an intriguing, fun, and rhythmically appealing word like bonobos.
Alliteration — the repetition of consonants in close-proximity—is well known in advertising and marketing. Less understood is the powerful role played by assonance— the repetition of vowels. Stitch Fix, which repeats the short “i”, creates a very sticky name.
Takeaway: The sound of a name can be as important as what a word connotes and denotes. When naming, become familiar with the different kinds of sonic tools, not only rhyme, but also alliteration, assonance, and consonance.
On June 4th, 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress and ratified on August 18th, 1920. This milestone amendment guaranteed all American women the right to vote. Nineteenth Amendment’s interest in bringing a new voice to the fashion industry reflects the concept of bringing previously unheard voices into the body politic.
Takeaway: History and politics are naming treasure houses. If you do go this route, think of ways to build activities related to your name into your company’s community activities. For example, The Nineteenth Amendment could support projects relevant to women’s empowerment issues.
Tulerie is a peer-to-peer, invitation-only fashion rental company that allows users to rent couture clothing, shoes, and accessories from one another. The name suggests the Jardin des Tuileries, a beautiful public garden in Paris that was once the site a tile factory (tuile is French for tile). The name gets additional flair from garden’s proximity to Rue Honoré, a high-fashion Parisian shopping area.
Takeaway: Though River + Wolf generally recommends using natural word spellings — whether English or foreign — artistic license can be taken if the alternative or phonetic spelling offsets a high probability of spelling and pronunciation errors. However, misspelling for the sake of misspelling is strongly discouraged. It can look cheap, gimmicky, or smack of URL desperation. ‘Nuff said!
It’s a win-win when the style of a fashion name complements the design style it represents. The simple, refined, and casually elegant designs of Modern Citizen’s apparel and other offerings, is reflected in the company’s simple and strong moniker.
Takeaway: As Coco Chanel once famously quipped, “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. This holds true in naming as well—elegant names are often the simplest. That said, simplicity doesn’t mean commonplace. Modern Women or Modern Apparel would be commonplace. Modern Citizen, on the other hand, is simply elegant.
The beautiful clothes we wear should not be created at the expense of other peoples’ health and safety. Unfortunately, the fashion industry, like many other industries, does not always put this as a priority. Reformation, a word meaning the action or process of reforming an institution of practice, is pitch perfect for a company whose DNA includes the well-being of both its wearers and workers. And speaking of “reformation”, consider the materials used in the garment. Sustainable is best.
Takeaway: Federal laws states that any advertisement should be truthful and, ideally backed up by scientific evidence or solid data. This should hold true for names as well as they really are a form of advertising. For this reason, never use a name that promises something you cannot deliver. But if you can deliver — as does the fashion manufacturer Reformation — your name can proudly telegraph that claim.