For Milan Rouge, the concept of branding has evolved well beyond her clothing line.
She is the CEO of Milano di Rouge, a streetwear brand that is leaving its mark on the fashion landscape.
“My brand is based off of who I am and my personality,” Rouge said during an interview at her boutique located in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden neighborhood.
“I was always that girl that would wear her boyfriend’s clothes. With me just wearing his T-shirt and wearing his jeans, it made me feel stylish chic. That’s why I created a unisex brand.”
Her line features an array of casual shirts, hats, jumpsuits, jackets and sweatsuits. The clothing is manufactured in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Rouge is marking her fifth year in business as she hosts the Making Dream Reality Fashion Show on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the One Liberty Observation Deck. The sold-out event, which is expected to draw about 1,500 attendees, features a performance by performing artist Paloma Ford. The red carpet will be hosted by TMZ’s Lauren LaRosa and Boom 103.9’s Paris Nicole.
She views the upcoming show as an opportunity to create an experience for others to enjoy.
“Fashion is something that I love but I more so love creating experiences and motivating the people who come from where I come from that you can do anything,” said Rouge, who hails from the Bottom section of West Philadelphia.
“You don’t have to limit yourself,” she said. “I don’t look as myself as a designer. I look at myself as a creative person. My brand is me, so everything that I love and everything I would do typically, I tied it into my brand.”
Rouge was inspired to launch a fashion line after developing a blog. These days she shares fashion and lifestyle tips through her Milano di Rouge’s mobile platform.
As she reflected on marking her fifth year in business, the entrepreneur said she is proud of her personal growth.
“My brand just helped make me into a positive person,” Rouge said. “This is basically my rebirth. I’m just proud of the woman that I’ve become because of Milano di Rouge. It basically changed my life.”
Rouge was selected Designer in Residence at the Center City Macy’s in 2016. The yearlong program offers workshops focusing on how to build a brand, sustain a business and break into the fashion marketplace. Participating in the program enabled her to connect with other designers and key resources.
“I felt like because I didn’t have the education background in fashion that I was just hungry for knowledge,” Rogue said as she reflected on the program. “I learned so much and the resources that I had gotten from that program were amazing.”
In 2014, Rouge set out to make her brand more socially responsible and use her voice to effect change. She launched the “Safe Sex Saves Lives” awareness campaign to promote safe-sex practices. Rogue participates in the AIDS Walk and hosts yearly toy drives to benefit children who are affected or impacted by AIDS. She uses her platform to raise the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention because she says its not talked about enough.
“You can prevent getting HIV and AIDS if you use precautions,” she said. “I wanted to use my voice for that.”
Rouge has been outspoken in the fight to free close friend and rap artist Meek Mill. She also speaks at rallies and uses her social media platforms to highlight social injustice.
“I know a lot of young people follow me and hopefully I can change one person’s life,” she said.