LESS IS MORE: After relaunching her signature label in the fall with a collection of cocktail sweaters, Alex Gore Browne is keeping things small and exclusive for now.
Matchesfashion.com was the first to pick up the line, and Moda Operandi has added the spring collection. The 10-style assortment is more defined than the 30-item women’s wear label she introduced in 2000 and kept going until 2008. She spent the next eight years consulting first for Alexander McQueen and later at Nina Ricci for Peter Copping. Unlike her first go-round, the collection will not be found at Harvey Nichols, Browns, Harrods and Net-a-porter.
Browne’s m.o. is “to really pinpoint where it gets placed,” she said. Retailing from $125 to $1,500, the cocktail sweaters are meant to be paired with a long flowing skirt, culottes or anything else. “I just love the idea that when you go out in the evening, you can be really comfortable but look glamorous, as well. Sometimes a dress can be quite restricting,” she said. “I know if I’m really comfortable, but I also feel like I look good, I’ll have a much better evening. If I’m uncomfortable, I don’t mind for a bit. But I definitely can’t relax as much and enjoy myself.”
A Bologna, Italy factory handles production and is “very keen to try new things,” including techniques tried beforehand on her own sewing machine to ensure they could be done. That wasn’t the case with other prospective factories that were locked into age-old traditional techniques. “It just makes the creative process much more interesting,” Browne said.
A Central Saint Martins alum, Browne runs her business from New York with the help of a production manager. There is also an office in the Cotswolds. “With our factory, we can shrink or we can grow depending on what we need,” said Browne. And a New York City Garment Center factory is helping to produce new fabrics and designs, including ones based on her own paper designs. She can also use its machines to knit.
Being immersed in all elements of business has its advantages, though. “I literally see the yarn on the cone through the fitted finished sample. That gives me a lot of control. The business has just grown very organically,” she said. “Because the factory will do very small runs, I’m not hit with stock. I just do what we need. It’s creating the pieces that we need and keeping it all small. And we’ll see where that all goes.
While she may sell to stores down the road, Browne said she is determined “not to suddenly be everywhere. It’s about partnering up with the right people who are going to support the brand. I can work very closely with whoever I partner with.”