Jason Wu RTW Fall 2018, Proenza Schouler RTW Fall 2018

“The reality is that we can work with the same people [as in Europe] on creating buttons, we can work with the same people on creating feather trim and embroideries and stuff like that. So the access to the people you need to make things happen exists whether we’re here or there. It’s a little bit harder to schedule and figure it out [in the U.S.], but you can do it.…I think there’s this notion [with the houses in Europe], when a name is 50 years old, 100 years old, it’s sort of like a French wine. There might be a better wine from the Napa Valley but people don’t [recognize it as such].” — Marc Jacobs

“When the most revered of European fashion houses makes the bulk of their sales on T-shirts, denim and sneakers, it begs the question of what does luxury really mean in today’s world. It definitely doesn’t have the same definition it once had. We believe it is more about ‘brand’ these days than anything else.” — Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Proenza Schouler

“I like to think that I do luxury very well. Why would LVMH have hired Marc Jacobs if he couldn’t do luxury? Why was I at Gucci and made it so successful if I couldn’t do luxury? That’s a ridiculous thing….I think it might also be a question of money. I mean, 95 percent of the European brands that we are talking about are owned by LVMH and Kering, and money is no object. Money, assistance, manufacturing, shows, extravagance. You can’t compete with a $15 million Chanel show.” — Tom Ford

“I say all the time that it’s hard to hang next to Dior. I mean, we haven’t been in business for 50 years, we don’t have the team. We try to make sure that what our customer gets is so much for the money, whereas if you did go to Dior, if you went to Giambattista Valli and you were going for couture it would be $50,000 or $100,000 as opposed to what we’re charging, which is hopefully a price that they feel like they’re getting great value.” — Christian Siriano

“When Chanel released its numbers a few months ago I believe the revenue reported was around roughly $10 billion. Of this $10 billion, roughly $1.5 billion was spent on global marketing and brand support activities. What this says to me is that to be a competitive global luxury brand at this time, a huge amount of money has to be spent on reinforcing the perception of the luxury and prestige of the brand through expenditure on image. If large-scale American brands are not competing in this way, and combining the expenditure on image with design and product that is constantly refreshed and in tune with the demands of the moment, then they will not compete well.” — Brian Phillips, Black Frame

“I’m very optimistic about the talent in New York and America. I just find that any patternmaker and seamstress, there is the plethora of talent out there. I have not been scratching my head figuring out where to find it. I think that that’s also a misconception about America. In terms of factories and getting shoes made here, it’s a struggle. I think the accessory category is just harder in America, but in terms of ready-to-wear, I think that there’s so much out there.” — Brandon Maxwell

“I have tremendous problems recruiting people, especially on the design side. We think of ourselves as a design-led company. And I’ve been looking recently for people in our sample rooms, leadership roles in our atelier. Those folks are difficult to find in New York. They’re less difficult to find in Europe, but to get them from Europe to the United States is incredibly difficult. Our visa programs are massively outdated….I can’t get people here because H1B visas are taken up by the likes of Microsoft and IBM, within a nanosecond of those visas becoming available.” — Alex Bolen, ceo, Oscar de la Renta

“I think ‘luxury’ is perhaps the most diluted, misused, possibly meaningless word in fashion. And yes, I still use it all the time. Mostly it seems to mean expensive-ish. So yes, America is doing just fine producing luxury fashion. But if you’re talking about producing things that you might want to pass down to your daughter or son, that’s not what America does. That’s not really what most of fashion does anymore because consumers have been trained by markdown-obsessed retailers, social media, reality television and pop culture in general to buy the next new thing at a faster and faster rate. But America certainly could produce heirloom-quality fashion. It is better positioned to do that than to churn out fast fashion.” — Robin Givhan, fashion critic, The Washington Post

“American designers…simply cannot compete with the massive resources that the European houses have. We can’t afford the marketing dollars or the fancy trips, the extravagant sets or the celebrities. So that’s been challenging.

“The other fact is that most of us buy our fabric from Italy and France, so by the time we sell our goods there, we’ve incurred double duty. We are more expensive than the luxury brands in their homelands. And from a customer point of view, they simply do not see the value. Not to ignore the fact that our taxation for import is changing every week right now and it’s kind of making us very nervous.” — Jason Wu

“I like how versatile that word [luxury] is because we do make some things that are very luxurious. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you pair it with your Kelly bag when you’re getting out of your brand new Land Rover. That’s not really what we’re going for, nor have we ever done any of those things.” — Zoe Latta, cofounder, Eckhaus Latta

“The big issue here is competing for limited resources when it comes to luxury production, which is largely monopolized by European designers with bigger pockets. But still, it happens, especially for those who work hard or recognize the value of quality control. Look at Paul Andrew, who created a luxury shoe business from scratch, or The Row, where the Olsens employ beautiful dressmaking details that I thought no longer existed. Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta still have enormously talented and well-staffed sample-making studios, as do some younger designers like Zac Posen.” — Eric Wilson, fashion news director, InStyle Magazine

“Luxury right now is in the specific –– where does something come from, where was it made, even which artisan made it. The artisans’ mark is the new logo. There are deep and wonderful artisanal traditions across this country that I wish American designers would tap into more. Weavers and tailors and silversmiths and fabric-makers that are a fundamental part of the American tradition that could create truly American luxury.” — Stellene Volandes, editor in chief, Town & Country

“Europe will always be able to offer something that we as American designers can’t necessarily offer, which are brands with a deep heritage. The heritage that comes from over a century of history. But as Americans, the concept of luxury is different and not so overly consumed with a rich history and price. Our luxury is more about creating aspiration and innovation, and that spans across industries outside of traditional fashion. What Patagonia does for activewear, what O’Neill did for surfwear, what Supreme has recently done to reinforce streetwear and what Apple has done for technology and communication, are all examples of luxuries that American brands have revolutionized in their respective fields.” — Jonathan Simkhai

“I’m not trying to compete with the Chanel money and the Gucci money and the Dior money. I mean, they are going to win all day long, everyday. But do we do something that we think is unique and different and fun? For June, we invited our guests to a park and 10 minutes later we had a New Orleans-style brass band marching down the streets with the models behind them and everyone fell in line. And it became this inclusive event. That’s very us….I think that you can be creative, you can be different and interesting. Yes, I love those Dior shows, they’re amazing. But I also look at them and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, how much money did they spend?'” — Lela Rose

“There are already brands that produce a luxury level that we stock, so the American industry is set up for it — The Row, Rodarte, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Bienen Davis, Mark Cross, Gabriela Hearst, just to name a few. [But] they all have one thing in common and that is that they have a strong aesthetic that I know our international customer loves.” — Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director, Matchesfashion.com

“I like that American fashion has a sense of ease and a certain realism that can be particularly relevant for today’s new, young luxury customer around the world. At Coach, we are focused on the present and on relevance, not in an old-world idea of luxury. I think then we can look to the future and consider what the next generation cares about. I feel less constrained by the old codes of luxury.” — Stuart Vevers, executive creative director, Coach

“Our structure is inherently different. I don’t think the average consumer feels American brands are as glamorous as the big European brands. The European brands spend much more time and money cultivating image and desire. U.S. brands don’t seem to have the same long-range vision or strategy.” — Tracy Reese

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