It looks like a few fashion students could be about to get their big breaks at retail.
This story first appeared in the August 1, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This fall, Henri Bendel Limited Edition collection will include a floral printed cashmere sweater designed by students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Undergrads and professors in the school’s Working Class Studio retooled a student’s vibrant painting of poppies into a textile-friendly motif for the scoopneck, three-quarter sleeve sweater. Of course, their foray into retail fashion had to meet the inspection of vice president and fashion director Ann Watson and the rest of Henri Bendel’s merchandising team.
The $248 item will be sold in New York’s Fifth Avenue store later next month and will be splashed all over the flagship’s windows in October. Offered in purple or pink, the sweater also will be sold through the store’s Web site.
Henri Bendel, a store known by aspiring designers for its open calls, “has always been synonymous with supporting up-and-coming talent,” Watson said. “This opportunity has truly been a process of art-meets-fashion.”
This is the first effort in what Bendel’s and SCAD expect to be an ongoing partnership. Talks are under way for other product categories, but nothing is definite at this point.
“Art doesn’t just have to hang on a wall — it can be worn to great delight,” said SCAD president and co-founder Paula Wallace.
Another retailer-student venture is in the works downtown. Début, a new NoLIta boutique, is teaming up with Parsons The New School for Design to showcase recent graduates’ collections from Sept. 23 to 28. The postgrad designers will be selected Aug. 18.
Staying true to the spirit of the collections that are sold in the store, each designer will have his or her own display with a plaque listing the designer’s name, company name, geographic origin, the collection’s inspiration and launch date.
Parsons alumni already selling collections at Début include Angela Chen, Natalia Alcaron, Nima Taherzadeh, Salvador Trinidad and Rachel Rymar.
Simon Collins, the dean of fashion at Parsons, said working with Début in its first year encourages the school’s commitment to supporting the future of the industry.
Lisa Weiss, owner of Début, said, “It’s our hope that this synergy between retail and education — with two organizations so strongly rooted in the development and recognition of up-and-coming designers — will help pave the way for the next big names in fashion.”