Byronesque, the e-commerce platform for “contemporary” vintage fashion, has ambitions that go far beyond sourcing and selling vintage fashion from around the world. The company is making a move to design and manufacture its own label with the help of Carmen Busquets, cofounder investor and former board director of Net-a-porter.
Busquets is leading Byronesque’s next round of financing, said Gill Linton, ceo and editor in chief, adding that the cash infusion “will allow us to get to the next level. The investment will help grow us from just selling vintage clothes.”
Byronesque is starting with a limited-edition vintage T-shirt collection based on seminal moments in the careers of nine designers, including The Antwerp Six, Halston, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Claude Montana, Ray Petri and Stephen Sprouse. The collection, which ranges in price from $465 to $,1,000, will be sold in the fall on Style.com and at Assembly NYC and L.A., among other retailers.
Byronesque is also in discussions with a number of designers to reissue their archives, Linton said, adding, “It’s an example of where we’re taking it. It could be huge.”
In addition, Linton, along with creative director Justin Westover, is working on Byronesque’s next T-shirt series and in the fall will launch handbags in collaboration with several artists. She said the designer archives and names of artists would be revealed at a later date.
“We’re going to do more projects like the T-shirt line and more collaborations,” Linton said. “We have other plans for manufacturing our own products. We have some big plans to evolve into a multilevel editorial [platform] and brand in our own right. At the same time, our access to the kind of contemporary vintage we offer is vast. The investment will scale that up.”
Byronesque will also play a role in Style.com’s relaunch as an e-commerce site. “We’ll be their voice of future vintage. We’ll be identifying clothes from contemporary collections and letting people know which pieces are future vintage. We inherently and instinctively know what makes something hold or increase its value and make you wish you hadn’t given it away.
“Having a view of contemporary fashion has always been part of our take,” said Linton, adding that Byronesque would look at “all new collections.”
In addition to the limited-edition T-shirt collection, Byronesque created one-of-a-kind prints that capture the history of each designer in more detail. The distressed T-shirts were sourced by one of Byronesque’s vintage partners, Patrick Matamoros of Chapel NYC; fashion illustrator Jessica May Underwood brought the designs to life in a series of illustrations.
“We wanted to make sure we captured our fashion heroes, all of the key guys,” Linton said. All of the T-shirts are shredded, except for Yamamoto’s because “he had an obsession for pockets. The T-shirts were very hard to find. We selected the dates; for example, 1982 was the year of Rei Kawakubo’s controversial Goya cheese collection. The T-shirts are like a history lesson. You can hopefully viscerally feel the culture and inspiration of the design in the T-shirt.”
Each of the 200 T-shirts is numbered. Linton said she hopes that they become collectors’ items. There are also nine one-of-a-kind reversible T-shirts that “tell a deeper story. The Stephen Sprouse one-off T-shirt references a 1993 print the designer introduced with an album Debbie Harry launched, so the shirt is printed on a camouflage print,” Linton said. “His other T-shirts have color because he loved color.”
Linton said she’s working on the next T-shirt collection, which will also be on vintage shirts, but “it will be different.”
“We’re flexing our muscles,” Linton said. “Reissuing designers’ archives and future vintage is a big opportunity for us to scale up. That’s why Carmen has come on board. She realizes that there’s a much bigger opportunity than just selling the vintage pieces.”