NEW YORK — It’s all about smart decisions and fiscal discipline.
That emerged as a key theme Wednesday night at the Business of Fashion panel hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue and MasterCard with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The four panelists discussed ways to build financially viable businesses, particularly in the depressed economy.
The panel, moderated by New York Times reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom, consisted of Sarah Tam, Saks’ associate divisional merchandise manager for advanced European and evening collections; designer Robert Lee Morris; Jon Cetnarski, MasterCard’s senior vice president of information products, and Melissa Krinzman, managing partner at Venture Architects LLC, a New York-based firm that focuses on developing business plans, financial projections and investor presentations for companies that seek financial backing.
Krinzman recounted eavesdropping on a conversation about the economy between two ladies who lunch. One said that she wasn’t likely to be affected by Wall Street’s woes, but wondered whether she should back out of her weekly flower orders for the home as a precaution. Her companion advised her against it, since it would hurt the flower vendor she had helped support for years. The other woman responded that she might not get flowers for the rooms she doesn’t go into.
“Do you do nothing, do you cut back or do you make smart changes?” Krinzman said, adding that when speaking to potential investors, business owners should have a clear plan. “You have these expenses, but be able to defend them from a dollar standpoint,” she said. “Also, spend every dollar as if it’s your last. It’s about planning right now.”
Morris recalled how he sought an outside partner to start his business in 1977, but failed to secure one. Instead, he launched and built the business on his own. “Now we are being courted by investors…these talks are going on,” Morris said. He added he is uncertain whether he needs an investor, but likes that it would enable him to build his team and start advertising.
Saks’ Tam told the crowd, which included designers Jason Wu and Gemma Kahng, Panjiva’s Josh Green and industry veteran Gloria Gelfand, that despite the economy the luxury retailer continues to seek out young talent. “If you are a designer with finance issues, be upfront about it,” she said. “We will work on prepayment terms.
“It’s important not to make false promises on delivery dates and products you can’t produce,” she said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast