NEW YORK — After two years of keeping a low profile by selling to select personal clients and stores, Gaby Basora is back on the scene with her Tucker label.
The downtown designer launched her sportswear collection in 2006, developing it into a nearly $10 million wholesale operation. Along the way, she assembled a following that included Maggie Gyllenhaal and the illustrator, author and publisher Leanne Shapton. Now based in The Tunnel building in West Chelsea, Basora quietly relaunched her e-commerce business about six weeks ago. She has no immediate plans to reopen a boutique, although she had a SoHo store for two years until 2013. Since that time she has been selling to a handful of retailers, but not according to the wholesale calendar, she said.
In addition to securing a business partner, whom Basora declined to identify, she went back to school, enrolling in the part-time fashion executive MBA program at Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. “Pierre Bergé is one of the founders and Didier Grumbach is the dean, so it was definitely an invaluable thing for me. I went to Sarah Lawrence. I didn’t go to business school or fashion school,” Basora said. “It’s vital to have a partnership to sustain a business. I mean, most businesses require partnerships, but fashion is particularly one that requires all sorts of different areas of expertise to really create a sustainable, meaningful business.”
A CFDA member, the designer said she consulted with some of her “heroes” there for guidance. She said, “The ride can be a bumpy one, but if you’re in it for the long run, certainly the bumps are common,” Basora said.
The redesigned Tucker site features short films that focus on clients such as Gyllenhaal and fellow actress Anna Baryshnikov, Shapton and designers Solange Azagury-Partridge and Melissa Joy Manning. (Basora will host a trunk show at Azagury-Partridge’s Madison Avenue store on Oct. 22.) She started using films to tell her label’s story in 2010 and has been doing so ever since. An e-mail from Shapton titled “An Appreciation for the Blouse” detailed how she was “totally reliant” on one she had purchased more than five years ago, Basora said. “When I had scaled back the business, it was quite difficult as a designer to have a constant stream of e-mails from stores and women looking for more Tucker.”
Shoppers at the Tucker site will also find a short film shot by Aaron Rose featuring rising BMX riders “Jade” and “Hazel.” The film uses a Cat Power song, and the musician liked the project so much she screened it for concert fans while on tour. Having made films for Nowness and The New York Times, among others, Basora is working on some collaborations with artists.
She is eager to explore multidimensional ones like the Rose one, which came about purely through happenstance. “The girls live in Santa Fe, but I met their uncle when he drove up West Broadway in front of my store in a vintage car, just as I was saying that I needed one for a prop shoot with Benny Horne. So I ran up the street and introduced myself and he agreed to bring the car to our shoot at Industria. I had run the New York City Marathon and was wearing my medal and I told their uncle that in my past life, I was a BMX rider or in my next one, I would be one. He said, ‘That’s so strange that you say that, because my nieces are.’ So he introduced me to them. And we went to Santa Fe and made that film with Aaron Rose, who is a skater and a gallerist and a director. It’s the merging of all these elements – art, music, fashion, design and athleticism,” she said.