Rohan 1975 – 1981 Innovators not Imitators
I have uploaded the 1975 – 1981 Rohan Catalogue to the Gallery.
A catalogue very sparse on words with line drawings and no photos.
As I was doing this I read it again and realised it answered a few questions that have been left unanswered over the years. I have also added some observations.
One really startling observation, we actually had the confidence to declare what our position in the market place was – Innovators and to then to state not Imitators. This was our reaction to the amount of copying that had crept in over the period.
If you read the text relating to individual garment it rather gives the mood of the catalogue away …
Nemesis – “Just when some people think they have caught up (wrongly) we announce Nemesis“. This was a reference to a certain manufacturers very similar line of stretch wear. Read the full text
Some of the garments in this catalogue did not make it into production in any meaningful numbers. I can now see the reasons why. The rapid development of the Rohan Day Wear collection was the biggest reason. The collection consisted of Bags, Shorts, Pampas, Savannah, Tropical and Safari Shirts with the subsequent additions of Olfio, Wild Vest Hot Bags Mariner and Voyager. Post 1981 it was the core garments that started to sell in very large quantities. The growth of the company between 1981 and 1986 was challenging Our time was committed to production, satisfying demand and opening up what was to become the Rohan retail chain. In all this activity development was concentrated around Airlight and MultiFlex fabrics. Added to this we had subscribed to a very clear code of conduct in the industry that fabric development was vested in the company that put in the most commitment. Hence Berghaus with Gore-tex , Patagona with Synchilla,Fleece, Rohan with Airlight, MultiFlex, Windlord, Insusoft and Insuflex. However the mood in the trade was soon to change and copying became the flavour of the day.
The unprecedented growth took us from Skipton to Airton to Long Preston and eventually to Milton Keynes. All the time trying to bring innovation to all aspects of the companies activity, not only the products. The first Rohan shop in Long Preston was like no other on the day it opened in 1984. Rohanists memories of Long Preston are extensive…
Taking the company away from wholesale to mail order and direct selling was ground breaking within the UK outdoor industry. The Regional Shows took the trade by storm and made us very unpopular with the retailers. Do You Remember – Rohan Regional Shows?
The first London Shop in Covent Garden started a trend that subsequently ended with Covent Garden becoming the mecca of outdoor gear retailers in London. Why Covent Garden?
I guess it could be summed up we did what we could. At some point we went from needing to persuade a market to the disciplines needed to supply a rapidly growing market. Two very different disciplines. On reflection I think we enjoyed convincing more than supplying!
Did we stay true to Innovators not Imitators during the early years (1972 – 1990) ?
I think we did but more importantly what do you think?
Sarah Howcroft – Co Founder Rohan