Bill and Giuliana Rancic Talk San Francisco Fashion

One of America's favorite couples was in San Francisco for two events that brought to the forefront the topics of fashion and small business in the City. Bill Rancic, winner of the first season of The Apprentice, real estate developer, restaurateur, and speaker to small businesses, and Giuliana Rancic, entertainment journalist, fashion expert, TV personality, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, know both realms quite well, and shared their views on what San Francisco brands can do to become major players nationally.

[jump] Bill was at the Chubbies headquarters in San Francisco on Sept. 24 to talk with co-founders Tom Montgomery and Preston Rutherford as part of Intuit QuickBooks' Small Business Big Game competition, where entrepreneurs go head-to-head to win an expenses-paid, 30-second television commercial during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. The colorful shorts manufacturer is one of 10 finalists, and the only one from the Bay Area.

“For us, the brand is all about lifestyle,” Chubbies co-founder Tom Montgomery explained. “There are a couple of things that we promote. First is the Friday at 5pm feeling, kind of a lightheartedness, a focus on kind of not taking yourself too seriously. That, we think, is a pretty universal kind of sentiment of fun, basically. The second piece that we really focus on, that is internal as well as external, is manufacturing in the United States and how we can build that ecosystem back to a thriving place.”

“Look at the environment they created here,” Rancic said. “You can just tell instantly, when you walk in the room, the room puts its arm around you and gives you a hug. It's hard to create that kind of a vibe, and that's what I felt when I first walked through the the door.”

Operating a small business in San Francisco can seem like an uphill battle, but we do have advantages.

“You have a great talent pool here,” Rancic stated. “People want to live in San Francisco. It's all about people.” As for small businesses in general, “there's a lot of advantages of being a small business, and one is that you're agile. These guys can see a trend and respond instantly. It's a lot easier to turn a small boat than a massive ship.”

Another advantage Rancic saw is that small businesses like Chubbies can have millions of followers on social media that they can easily and directly communicate with, providing content, information and tips, without the need for costly national campaigns. “It's a great time to be a small business owner. These guys are proof of that. The American dream is still alive and well, and we need to fuel that dream and push it forward.”

Later that day, Giuliana was also in San Francisco to host the Macy's Front Row Fashion Show, showcasing the latest fall trends, as well as work by this season's Project Runway stars Jake WallJoseph Charles Poli, and Blake Patterson. She also felt San Francisco is on to something in the realm of fashion, especially when it comes to tech. “That's actually big now, merging tech and fashion,” Rancic said when we told her S.F. sometimes has a fashion reputation of granola and techies in hoodies. “Maybe San Francisco is at the forefront of that or could be at the forefront of that, because you can merge the two here, more naturally than in other cities.”

Giuliana did give the City the props it deserves in the style department, “I think people have great style here. I come here quite a bit and I think there's a lot of really good style in San Francisco. You see a lot of edgier looks and people have fun with fashion here and enjoy it. It's nice to see that. It can't just be all work and no play — or all work and no fashion.”

Delving deeper into the topic of fashion, Giuliana shared her favorite trends from the recently ended New York Fashion Week. Loving all the florals and botanical prints, embellishments, and heavy beading she saw on the runways, she admits that being at NYFW inspired her Emmy gown choice, an elaborately beaded creation by Ziad Nakad. These feminine looks are a “departure from the more masculine, somber looks that we've been seeing for the past few years, which I still love,” Rancic stated. “But I think it definitely felt a little more feminine at fashion week, which I like. I think it was kind of a throwback, like a return to femininity.”

Having seen the latest on the runway, critiqued numerous celebrities in haute couture, and having been in the fashion world for quite some time, we found it important to ask Giuliana what a fashion designer from San Francisco can do to compete with those in the fashion capitals of the world.

“I think the most important thing is to have a distinct look, and style and not try to emulate the other cities. What makes a designer great is when they're different and they're an innovator. As long as they can stay true to who they are, and true to where they're from and what they grew up seeing and not force a certain look or style … you gotta stay authentic to who you are.”

From small business and first starts, to the big time and even bigger success, this is solid advice that no doubt has taken the very authentic Bill and Giuliana Rancic to where they are today.

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