The collaborative spirit for fashion collections at retail is spreading to designers’ workplaces.
Brand Assembly Square and The Park Creative are seeking to attract fashion designers who want to share their workspace with others. Along with competing firms such as NeueHouse in Hollywood, they form the growing trend encouraging mobile, flexible creative types who rely on digital technology rather than a physical space to root them in the business world. The difference is Brand Assembly Square and The Park Creative purposely cater to the fashion community with sites located in the center of L.A.’s Fashion District.
Brand Assembly Square, an offshoot of the women’s trade fair called Brand Assembly, chose Cooper Design Space as its base, amid showrooms run by AG, Mih Jeans, Ted Baker London and others. The Park Creative is located across the street.
“I wish, when I started in the fashion business, something like this existed,” said John Vorzimer, an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience who, along with Laurence Richards, is a founding investor of The Park Creative. “The entire fashion industry has changed. The traditional concept of a showroom is losing its validity in the market. The culture has changed. People in the fashion business are looking for collaboration.”
That rationale motivated Brand Assembly cofounders Hillary France and Alex Repola to duplicate the shared work space it opened in New York in September 2015 in Los Angeles. Unveiled earlier this month, the Los Angeles venue houses 13 rooms, decorated in white with glass walls, leasing monthly from $800 for 129 square feet to $1,900 for 325 square feet. The New York outpost features seven private studios with glass walls and also offers eight nooks in the communal open space.
In New York, tenants include Calypso, Max & Chester, Noella Showroom and Lebel Group. In Los Angeles, it has signed brands such as Drifter and Ström.
“There are so many designers now and less and less market share,” France said. “These designers have to band together and work together and get the exposure they need in front of the buyers.”
Repola noted that the big push for Brand Assembly Square in Los Angeles will be next January, before the commence of the fashion market targeting the summer 2017 season, when Black Halo is expected to move into its room.
“We have been showing seasonally at the shows for years, so this just felt like the next natural step,” said Lucy Melton, Black Halo’s national sales director. “While we have an amazing office in the Arts District, we find it important to keep our buyers in mind and a presence downtown is easiest for everyone.”
Marking its one-year anniversary in December, The Park Creative offers monthly leases that range from $250 for a spot in the communal area to $3,250 for an executive office. It can host almost 100 people working in the 10,000-square-foot industrial-style loft filled with modern furniture and Pop Art. Daily passes are also available. Apparel brands that are based there include Trumaker, Oublier and Lights Out from former football pro Shawne Merriman. It doesn’t house facilities where designers can make patterns or samples, but it encourages them to pool resources so they can avoid common mistakes that beset young fashion designers.
“We’re not just providing a space,” Richards said. “We could do incubation [of start-ups] in the future.”
Brand Assembly Square also strives to create a community. Applying the concept of “leveraging power with numbers,” France said Brand Assembly Square helped nook occupant Mestiza New York to sign Anthropologie’s wedding brand, BHLDN, as a retailer in its debut season last year. Moreover, in New York, it hosted a talk with a non-profit organization called Nest that connects artisans to emerging designers. France suggested samples sales and press previews as possible events in Los Angeles. Looking toward the future, France ponders expanding from women’s and dual-gender brands to men’s labels and moving into new markets such as Dallas, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Nashville, Tenn.
At the end of the day, the fashion executives said, it doesn’t matter how or where the designers work but what they create.
“The product speaks for itself,” Vorzimer said. “That’s what is important.”