The Guess brand has been known for all things denim ever since the early ’80s when four brothers from the south of France landed in Los Angeles and started their own blue jeans label.
Over the next 50 years, the company has morphed into a $2.6 billion publicly traded venture, with the Marciano family still a major shareholder and some members continuing as part of the operation. Now, the next generation is putting its own mark on the fashion industry.
Emma Marciano, whose father is Guess cofounder Maurice Marciano, a former chief executive officer and current board member, is designing a new independently owned and operated label called Mimchik, which is not associated with the Guess label. It launches in October with the help of her business partner Mia Kazovsky.
The two joined forces at the beginning of the year after meeting through Emma’s older sister, Olivia. “Olivia and Mia were best friends in the eighth grade and separated ways for a while,” Emma Marciano recalled.
When Kazovsky caught up with Olivia, she shared she was starting her own brand after leaving her previous label, Dooz. Marciano was also looking to start her own label. Olivia introduced the two, and they immediately hit it off.
Marciano, 24, who studied at New York University and did a one-year apprenticeship at Guess, had a wealth of ideas, but she felt overwhelmed by being in the shadow of Guess’ greatness. “There were obviously some big shoes to fill,” she noted.
Kazovsky, 30, who has a bachelor’s from Pratt Institute, had cofounded an astrology-oriented apparel, handbag and accessories company in 2018 called Dooz, but she left last year to branch out on her own. “I moved from New York back to Los Angeles and felt I needed a fresh start,” Kazovsky said. “I started to pursue something else, but it was hard to do by myself.…Emma and I hit it off, and ever since, we have both been inseparable.”
The idea behind Mimchik, which will initially be sold online, is to create something different for the girl who has completely run out of different things to wear. “It is for somebody who doesn’t want to wear the tight black dress anymore and wants something very outside of the box,” Marciano said.
The working tag line for their customer is the “conscious hot girl.” It is about the girl in her 20s or 30s who likes to have fun and wear different well-made clothes, which are not throw-away fashion. “It is very much someone who is willing to pay a little more for something that will last forever,” Kazovsky said. Price points will range from $120 for a tank top to $800 for a jacket.
The two creators, who are self-funding their project, are fashioning designs manufactured in Los Angeles in small batches made primarily from eco-friendly fabric, deadstock or recycled material to reduce waste. “We are a fashion brand coming into this huge world, and we don’t want to add more waste and continue to mess up our earth,” Marciano said.
Their first collection consists of about 12 styles, including one dress, two skirts, two pants, a top that comes in several colors and jackets. “Our clothes are playing on men’s suiting and taking the formality out of it, making it playful, whimsical, fun and sexy,” Marciano said.
There will be oversize, men’s-style jackets paired with a miniskirt. “It is our own visual language, playing with proportion,” Kazovsky said.
One of the challenges developing the brand is to find the right fabric and then hope it doesn’t go out of stock. Another challenge has been getting back samples from the sewing factory and finding they don’t quite live up to their expectations and need to be redone.
Kazovsky brings to the new label her technical skills learned from launching Dooz with Rachel Borghard, who remains at the company.
And Marciano has a wealth of product ideas. “I live and breathe clothing,” she said. “This is just the one thing that actually brings so much joy and gets my heart beating super-fast. I come to Mia with all these ideas, and she is able to bring them to life,” she said.
Marciano is also sharing her ideas with her father, Maurice, even though he is still recovering from a bicycle accident he had two years ago in Napa Valley, Calif. “He is not able to speak,” Marciano said, “but me showing him what I am doing gets him excited and shows him I am able to do this on my own.”