PARIS — Many designers strive to occupy a market niche. But what happens when that niche grows into a $10 million business?
That is the situation in which Andrew Gn — known for his opulent, couture-quality confections — finds himself these days as he angles for new avenues of growth for his 10-year-old, Paris-based house.
"There are a lot of opportunities for us to continue to build the business," said Gn, 40.
In January, Gn will present his first pre-fall collection to retailers, having launched cruise two seasons ago. He just signed on for a second collaboration with Leiber on handbags. And his burgeoning shoe collection is selling well and is stocked in some 80 stores. Meanwhile, Gn said he is exploring the possibility of opening his own stores.
"I'd like to do two simultaneously, in London and in Paris," he said.
In an industry dominated by fashion conglomerates, Gn has succeeded on several fronts. By sticking to an aesthetic centered on luxurious embroideries and lush fabrics, he has carved out a place on the crowded selling floor and is carried in 135 stores around the world, including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom. Socialites such as Tamara Mellon, Becca Cason Thrash and Lily Safra count Gn as their go-to guy. He attributes his success to an unwavering focus on high quality and an individual approach that doesn't pander to the trends. Rather, he said he focuses on satisfying customers' wardrobe needs.
"What I'm doing isn't trendy," he said of his clothes, which are priced from around $1,500 for a blouse up to $40,000 for an evening gown. "I'm like an ostrich. I do what I like and I follow my own way of doing things. That means that my product is very individualistic. A woman won't go to a party and see five other women wearing their dress. It's very exclusive."
Gn, for example, develops all of his embroideries and fabrics in-house. He even creates his own buttons. "We try to produce collections that can't be copied in 48 hours," he said. "There's so much finishing and handiwork that goes into the clothes. My guiding principle is to be unique."
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"It's really hard sometimes. I think I have a reputation for being really tough and aggressive and pushy but I really am a very shy person who wants to be liked, and that's the conflict constantly. There's something that takes hold - I want people to like me, I don't want to be mean - but if I see something that just cries out to be answered, I go for it," says renowned NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. (📷: @axeldupeux)