Clothes on the Sly

Clothes on the Sly


Sylvester Stallone Picture

Sylvester Stallone is launching a clothing line through his company, Sly Inc. I am a fan of Sly and his films. His ability to wrestle father time to the ground and pin him has been an inspiration to anyone who has a birthday…ever! However, I am writing this as a word of caution, as this new venture could hurt his brand.

Already he has launched a supplement company and magazine. Both of which should have been huge successes. My fear is that the same thing that prevented success with those ventures will only be magnified in this clothing line.

Sly Inc (parent company for the new line) will have to do what has never been done in clothing. They CANNOT approach this line in the same manner that Kim Kardashian, Kathy Ireland, and Donald Trump have approached theirs. The reason being; Sly Inc is targeting 25-45 male demographic with a brand by Sylvester Stallone, a name and image which is held in high esteem by every male in the past 60 years. That name and image are very large and Sly Inc intends to play off of the Rocky and Rambo image also. This iconic image is exactly what could cause them to fail; let me explain.

Kim Kardashian is a household name, as is Donald Trump, by Sylvester goes beyond “household” and is approaching super hero status! That’s a good thing, right? Yeah…if you are making a movie, but what 30 year old male wears Superman pajamas? That’s my point!

30 year old men love Superman, but they won’t wear a Superman clothing line. Rocky is a super hero. This past year the Boxing Hall of Fame had its nomination, and listed on the ballot was Rocky Balboa, a fictional character! Ask a young boxer who his hero’s are and on that list you will hear Rocky, a fictional character! The city of Philadelphia has a statue built in honor of Rocky, a fictional…oh you get the point. How many millions of people have ran up the steps and lifted their arms? For goodness sakes, I have even heard political leaders use Rocky as an example! The Rocky brand should be worth billions and I hope it continues to grow, but if a company thinks that it can parlay that image into a men’s clothing line, they will fail!

Sylvester’s ability to connect with the hearts of people through his characters is unmatched and even under appreciated. However, what has become so iconic needs to be handled correctly, or it becomes a laughing stock. Even if Sly Inc takes heed and doesn’t play up the Rocky/Rambo image in their efforts, they still face the problem of separating their namesake from the icons which were created by their namesake.

I doubt there is a day that goes by where Sylvester Stallone is not called Rocky or Rambo in public. This fact would seem like a golden gift to the naive. But again, what 30 year old wears a Batman watch?

Now, I am NOT saying that they shouldn’t pursue this clothing line! Matter of fact, I believe that if they handle this correctly, it could be in the top 3 in men’s clothing. Picture; “Sly” the name plate for their main line, “Stone” for the active apparel, and “Sylvester” for their high-end, semi-tailored label. Sly Inc cannot confuse a six figure auction bid for a pair of “Rocky” boxing gloves as a marketing indicator for a clothing line though!

For this to succeed:

1) Sylvester Stallone image

Start by drawing a distinction between Sylvester and Rocky/Rambo. Get him media where he is talking about him, not a film, or the icons he created, and certainly NOT the clothes! Give the world insight into the man, and that will allow the public to separate that icon from the man, while adding iconic status to the man.

Think of it like this; there is Batman and then there is Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne has an equally rockin’ persona in the day as his creation has at night. Sly is a modern example of Batman, now he has to show us Bruce Wayne. By creating the separation, it will allow a longer appreciation for Rocky and Rambo too actually.

2) Let Sly Stallone bring men to the world of fashion

Not only does Sly Inc have to overcome their greatest asset, but they are entering male clothing. If you think it is hard launching a long term female line (which it is), a male presence for a celebrity brand is even more difficult to establish. Every man on the planet knows who Sylvester Stallone is and he holds the image of a “man’s man.” Well, how many of these men have an interest in fashion at a level high enough to care and/or break brand loyalty?

This image, if done right, could be the single thing which could make Sly, Inc a top 3 player in the industry.

Men know Sylvester wears some nice threads, so that helps, but he needs to take men TO fashion. Since this is a main ingredient to the success or failure of this brand, I can, but will not, explain how this can be achieved. To reveal that could enable the competition to block the movements needed by Sly, Inc.

3) Don’t let Rocky bring us Sly clothes

Instead the man who brought us Rocky and who brought us Rambo, bring us the next creative masterpiece, his clothing. Again, there is some golden marketing strategy here which I cannot reveal, but trust me when I say that the launch of this line could equal the launch of a Rocky film!

4) Don’t listen to the Advertising/PR industry

Look, the Rocky/Rambo image has so much potential that the industry doesn’t need it to succeed in order to make money off of it. This could hurt Sly, Inc and is the very reason I wrote this piece. There needs to be a bucking of the norm when it comes to this brand. If they approach this in a similar fashion to what has been done in the past, it will fail!

5) Branding and Accessibility

This can be a mine field of mistakes. Price it too cheap and it destroys the brand because people don’t want it to be cheap…it’s Sylvester Stallone, remember.  There needs to be some “image” and “mystique” built up around this brand HARDCORE before it launches any of their lines! Leak some photos, promo gift some celebs AND normal people to spot light. Tease for 60-90 days before the launch. 

I sincerely wish Sylvester and his team success in this new line. If done right, he can become a fashion Icon. If done wrong, not only will the clothing line take a hit, but so will Rocky and Rambo as people don’t want to see their super heroes bleed.

Josh Tolley is a business and behavioral strategist.  His latest book, “Quit Your Job or Die: Discover the Importance of Self-Employment” has been a top ten best seller for over 16 weeks. He has been seen on NBC, CBS, on over 100 stations nationwide and he has been heard from coast to coast on the radio.  His teachings have been implemented by hundreds of people and dozens of businesses around the globe. He is ranked as one of the top 100 business and personal growth trainers in the world and is the developer of many human interaction technologies and strategies. Josh does take on a VERY limited number of personal clients, to discuss this or to book Josh for a seminar in your area, contact Mike with The Annex Project at 626-893-4917 or  You can also find out more about what Josh is up to at


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