Inclusively exclusive. That is the philosophy behind Wingate, the new luxury collection designed for women of “all ages and all sizes” that is having a pop-up launch during Art Basel Miami Beach this week.
Wingate is the brainchild of ex-Escada fashion director Daniel Wingate, whose long design career has included stops at Hugo Boss, Marc O’Polo and Strenesse in Germany, as well as J. Crew and Geoffrey Beene in New York. Available up to size 18, Wingate is also a style-driven reaction to the shopping frustration many plus-size women experience in the market.
“According to recent statistics, 66 percent of women in America now wear size 14 and larger. However, when it comes to style, there’s a white space out there. In my past work, I’ve met all these wonderful women from Tokyo to Tallahassee who can’t find anything to wear,” Wingate stated.
One such woman the Munich-based, Florida native knows well is Silvia Cubiñá, director of Miami’s newly reopened Bass Museum. “She’s an independent, modern woman who has to present herself, every day.” A typical Wingate customer, he suggested.
Wingate is dressing Cubiñá and other art world women during the five-day art event. It was Cubiñá who put Wingate in touch with Karen Quinones, owner of the Miami Design District’s multibrand shop En Avance, which is hosting a Wingate pop-up for the duration of Art Basel.
Quinones chose to highlight 12 styles from the 42-piece debut collection, alpha sized in 0 (4 to 6), 1 (8 to 10), 2 (12 to 14) and 3 (16 to 18). The fabrics in silk, cotton, and novelty blends and cashmere knits are all Italian in origin. Production is primarily in Italy and Poland, with two double-faced pieces to be made in China. This first collection for pre-fall features supple pieces, with the stretch factor built into the fabric or knit structure. The lines are clean but not strict, the proportions carefully balanced and the shapes all softly draped and relaxed.
“If you have the challenge of a curvy body, soft shapes are better than a box,” said Wingate, who thus styled the collection’s most formal jacket (in silk/viscose marocain) with no buttons or shoulder pads, the sides slit, the front falling from the lapels in a scarf-like ripple. Dresses simply slip over the head, always accompanied by a belt for those who wish to accentuate their waist.
The collection’s signature silk trousers have wide legs and a tie detail to create a soft pleat, though there are also slim styles in techno stretch or stretch gabardine. Loosely fitting shirts and tops, elongated shirt jacket/dress styles and comfortably droopy but sophisticated knitwear in cashmere, or wool/silk/cashmere blends are often sparked by metallic details, cotton insets or a silk back panel.
Strong on ivory, the collection also features a butterfly print and jacquard stripes for an added shot of cobalt blue, black and a tiny touch of hot pink. However, Wingate envisions retail clients taking a more customized approach, noting needs and tastes differ widely between geographic regions.
“I did most of [the collection] in off white so one can really look at the shape and at the quality. But if a store wants the silk satin seersucker in a color, for example, or needs more black, bright blue or even wants to pull out the hot pink, I can really bespoke it.”
Set to retail in the U.S. between $395 for cotton stretch gabardine pants and cotton poplin shirts to $2,995 for a dress in all-over metallic embroidery, Wingate said he wants to provide a sophisticated customer with a bit more playfulness and at a lower price point than they’d find with luxury contenders with a more minimal style like Bruno Cucinelli, Céline and The Row. And more flair than players such as Eileen Fisher at the other end of the market.
“I’m trying to take over in the footsteps of Zoran, who dressed all women, but in a new way,” he remarked. “Basically, I’d like Wingate to be a ‘go to’ for clean lines, beautiful fabrics, and hopefully timeless and seasonless fashion.”
First retail clients include 11 Honoré which will be doing online promotion as of January and trunk shows in Chicago, San Francisco and other still-to-be-determined cities, as well as Julian Gold in Fort Worth, Tex., and Elizabeth Anthony in Houston. Trunk shows will be a major sales tool, Wingate said, noting, “there’s a new discussion to be had. I would rather do trunk shows with retailers and have them pull in their people, than just sell in and have the clothes hang there.”
Though hardly out of the gate, Wingate Collection has already been seen on Debra Messing, who donned the ivory silk satin seersucker satin V-neck top and black silk pants on a recent episode of “Will & Grace.” Kelly Rutherford wore the black silk/viscose marocain jumpsuit at Us Weekly’s Most Stylish New Yorkers 2017 party in the Jane Hotel ballroom in September, and Bernadette Peters also owns a Wingate style.
Moving forward, the designer envisions a gradual progression, adding perhaps a new butterfly motif, or going all navy for the next round. “And I want more dresses for a dressed but not overdressed look that women like my mother at 84, my sister at 50 or my niece at 22 could wear. I want to see them in fewer, finer things. Pieces that let them breathe and create a wardrobe.”