Daniel Vosovic, owner and creative director, Daniel Vosovic: Vosovic's first meeting with his mentors was a tough one. "I just felt like they were ripping me open. It was so raw and so seemingly brutal because it was like, 'Why did you spend $10,000 here?' It was a very realistic look at the facts." That led to a focusing of the business. "I can do beautiful gowns and I can do this and that, but at the end of the day, do people want that from me right now? No. I had to focus on my sweet spot, for me it's this high-end advanced contemporary space." Timo Weiland, creative director, Timo Weiland: "We learn something in the morning and we apply it in the afternoon. It's really been a huge thing to be able to talk to people who have decades of experience in production and sampling and costs and brand-building. We have a very presentable business plan now that is professional, whereas before we didn't." Greg Lawrance, cofounder, Number:Lab: "They've given us a tremendous amount of focus and not just for everyday business, but focus on the actual merchandising and the products…our true brand DNA."
Max Stein, cofounder and chief executive officer, Reece Hudson: Mentors encouraged Stein and cofounder Reece Solomon to make a brand book to help focus and communicate the company's message. The book includes pictures and "statements about who we are and who our customer is and words that describe us. We've used it already: We are going to be developing a Web site and we shared the book with some [Web designers] to give them a feel for our brand." Arielle Shapiro, owner of lingerie firm Ari Dein: "Nobody has come in here and tried to change what I'm doing or aesthetically make me into something that I'm not. It's been very helpful…in terms of adding new product areas. It's very important to stay focused. Not everything is going to be right for your company. It comes down to a numbers game. We only have the resources to get it right the first time. I can just come into a meeting [with my mentors] and bounce 30 ideas off the wall and see what sticks instead of putting 30 ideas into production." THE MENTORS
Douglas Hand, founding member of Hand Baldachin & Amburgey: "It's extremely gratifying to identify young talent and be able to nurture that talent—providing positive support and sound business and legal counsel. To truly succeed in the world of fashion, one needs not only artistic talent and a gifted eye, but the ability to exercise judgment and pay close attention to the health of the company—namely proper legal structure and a watchful eye on the bottom line."
Lisa Metcalfe, production-operations, Skaist-Taylor: "It's great to be able to give knowledge that we take for granted to these young, hugely talented people who are supercreative—some of them only have the creative and not the business side of it. We are really pushing and challenging them to think of themselves as a business, not, 'Oh, I'm excited and I feel good about being a designer and having a business.' It's like, 'No, you don't have a business; you're not making money.' The biggest thing that they need is real-life experiences. It's a reality check." Gary Wassner, president of factor Hilldun Corp.: "For me, it's a dream program. You're running this small company and you're getting a board, basically, of experienced industry veterans who come and spend their time helping you build your business. What we've learned as a program is that it's not enough to just have talent…you really need to understand the business basics. You can't wing it. If you want to make it in this business, you really have to understand where you're going and you need to have realistic sales goals. It's not a wish and a prayer." Roopal Patel, fashion consultant: "The program is changing and it's evolving and growing to fit the needs of all these designers. There's no road map how to be a successful designer. This [program] really gives them the tools to become a part of fashion's mainstream. One of the things we're starting to see is that the designer should really take full advantage of the two years [of the program]. They really have the whole industry at their fingertips. It's just wonderful; it's almost like paying it forward to be able to see a new group of designers evolve under your guidance."
Jeffry Aronsson, ceo, Chado Ralph Rucci: "Lisa Smilor and Johanna Stout [at the CFDA] are driving the means for promising early-stage designers and Stern School M.B.A. students to learn by experience how to build that critical bridge between creative design talent and the disciplines of business management." Steven Alan, ceo and designer, Steven Alan: "We've had a showroom since 1997 representing about 20 different brands. One of the most satisfying things is to be able to work with designers and for me, [the Fashion Incubator] is helpful because [I see] different approaches, other people who are also mentors with ideas. You can spend a lot of money early [when starting a design house] and unfortunately that could be the end of it. Focus is certainly something that keeps coming up with [the] designers." Jayne Harkness, business consultant: "It's a series of support systems. [Vosovic] had some preview meetings with some retail buyers to really give him the courage and the knowledge that he's headed in the right direction. Everyone from his mentoring circle has contributed to [Vosovic's merchandising plan]. That's the genius of the CFDA: putting together these great professionals who are able to say, 'This is really the right way to go.'"
Kyle Andrew, senior vice president, marketing, Kate Spade New York: "[The Fashion Incubator] has exposed me to a different, less cynical side of the fashion business. The designers I work with—Ari Dean and Reece Hudson—are both extremely talented and ambitious, yet they have a fresh, somewhat naïve approach that I find refreshing and energizing. I have found it very rewarding to work with them, as I know they will be successful and will have an impact in this business. I think I have been of some use in helping them clarify who they are as a brand. It was clear from the start that their design aesthetic was solid and strong. I tried to help them with the need to clarify their brand stories so that they are unique and distinctive in a very crowded field."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews