Alvin Valley has returned to the helm of his namesake company, which has been plagued by design and distribution problems since The Moret Group purchased a half-stake two years ago.
"Once any young designer gets in a partnership with a large corporation, you can lose sight of everything," Valley said. "It got too big too fast. There was so much money available to us that we got overwhelmed, and there were many layers between me and the product. I got so distracted doing so many other things, only working two or three days a week, that I didn't notice that the fit and design quality were changed. The image went from young designer to more mature."
By taking the reins again as full-time designer, Valley hopes to stop the declines caused by flawed fits and merchandising.
In partnership with the $300 million Moret Group, Valley has been working full time for the last month, designing the Alvin Valley Collection, As Is by Alvin Valley and Alvin, a contemporary collection launching at Nordstrom and Macy's this spring.
Valley, dubbed "the king of pants,'' has downsized his staff, cutting 12 to 15 design, sales and merchandising posts. Joann Langer, who was named president in 2006, left last spring, Valley said. Valley rehired his original production team, reinstating his original patterns and fits, and now has a group of about seven working with him at his showroom at 623 Broadway in Manhattan. Valley is also returning the brand's focus to pants rather than the other categories the brand had expanded into. Moret is still handling back office design.
"Moret brought in a few people to take us from cult pant status to a major brand, but instead we lost our DNA and our core customer," Valley said. "We took a product from a specific fit to a commercial fit."
The Moret Group in January 2006 bought a half-stake in Alvin Valley for about $23 million from Valley's business partner Richard Rosenthal, who started the business with him in 2002.
"We had a meeting of the minds and said 'let's go back to what was successful,'" said Gary Herwitz, executive vice president of The Moret Group. "Now we are getting back to the roots of the brand."The brand is carried in about 250 doors compared with an estimated 400 when the line was acquired. More important than the quantity of the doors, Valley said, was the quality of those lost, including Fred Segal, Ron Herman, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue.
"We weren't any longer selling to the edgier, fashion-y stores," said Valley, who hopes to regain the accounts now that he is back designing full time starting with the fall 2008 collection. "Not having that retail visibility really hurt."
The core brand has experienced about a 50 percent volume loss in the past two years (the company declined to quantify specific volume), offset partly by the launch of Alvin, Herwitz said. The dress cycle exacerbated the losses for the pants-based business.
“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