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By Tugcan Dokmen - April 20, 2017
Sarah Andelman knows what’s going down. Although Instagram is a diluted and expertly controlled view of how a person experiences the world, scrolling through the account of Colette’s founder makes it evident that the shop is much more than just a place to buy products – it’s got a holistic and inherently personal approach. There are pictures of intimate dinners, dolphin watching with the Colette sailing club, jazz nights with her son, flashes from fashion weeks, handfuls of flower bouquets – snapshots are collected from all over the world, illustrating Andelman’s well-defined taste; documenting as well as forecasting what’s happening on 213 Rue Saint Honoré. Perhaps it is fair to say that the department store, which houses around 20,000 products at any given time – from candy to Vertu phones to €30k dresses – is somewhat of a cultural movement.
Even as the Parisian landmark is nearing its 20th anniversary, Andelman still makes all the buying decisions herself, trusting hardly anything external from her gut feeling. It may seem like a big task to keep the perpetual innovation going, especially in a time where questions about ‘disrupting the seasons’ or ‘see now buy now’ strategies continuously pop up on the news feeds of emerging talent. But she keeps going, unfazed and in a laidback demeanour. Royal College of Art graduate Tugcan Dokmen, who did her BA in Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins, sat down with Andelman to find out if there’s any magic formula for a young designer to ‘make it’ and charm all fashion buyers.
What makes a young designer stand out for you? Is it about how well a graduate collection is being received?
Oh, it doesn’t matter how and when you get the attention. The start can be your graduate collection, or it can be your first collection when you are forty years old. I think what’s important is to bring something that we haven’t seen yet. Something very special, made of very good quality, with a message that makes you noticeable and desirable.
And to keep the interest fresh, designers shouldn’t repeat themselves and keep surprising.
Yes, it is very important.
“Add something that is not expected. If you can prove that you have talent for something else, it is even better for you.”
But in the first couple seasons, don’t you think that it is okay for young designers to repeat some elements? Maybe key techniques, fabrics, patterns or concepts?
Yes, it is necessary to find out what you are comfortable with. But especially when you are young and you have time and energy, I think it is important to be courageous and push yourself outside the boundaries to surprise yourself. I do trade shows all the time, and when I see a designer and love their collection, after a while I need to see progression. Let’s say I book their key rings and after five years there is still the same stand and the same key rings – of course I won’t buy it for Colette anymore. Because it is done, and they don’t understand it themselves. How don’t they get bored with the same thing?
I would still say: add something that is not expected. If you can prove that you have talent for something else, it is even better for you. It means you are very talented. And you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t receive any orders in your first seasons.
After showing my first official collection in London, I decided to come to Paris too. And I became conscious of the difference between trade shows and private showrooms. From a buyer’s point of view, which one is more agreeable for you?
There is no rule. As a buyer, I have to go to Premiere Classe, for example. I think starting with big trade shows like this is not a bad thing for a young designer. It is actually good, because so many visitors go there: buyers, maybe some owners of showrooms and press. We have a very busy schedule and it is easier for us as buyers that lots of designers are all in the same place. So we have to go there. It is true that it can be frustrating for designers to be in the same place, with everybody in a square meter, having the same light and walls as everyone else, and you cannot express a lot apart from your products. I do lots of showrooms too, but not all of them, so it depends. There used to be some designers who were together in one showroom, in an apartment in the 18th or 19th arrondissement, but even if I want to go there, I cannot. I won’t have enough time.
Today, some designers can have success just by themselves with social media, with the Internet. You can be independent. You can have a great website, a great Instagram, and it will give you more attention than one of these tradeshows or showrooms.
“You need someone to help you to do everything as early as possible.”
What are the main mistakes that young designers make, from the point of view of a buyer and a retailer?
To not take care of early delivery, to not be in the showroom and let other people speak about your collection, to not support the retailer in any way, to not renew yourself.
Is Paris the only city to set up your showroom if you want to get orders?
Paris is essential, but you can also have your showroom in New York, London or Milan.
How important is the social following of a new brand for you?
It can be important, but not 100%. I consider everything, but the most important thing is my instinct and feeling, and the fact it can complete our current assortment.
“Everyone copies young designers because they have a strong image.”
Do you think designers should have a PR at the beginning of their careers? A lot of emerging talent is quite unsure about these kinds of decisions.
You are very lucky in the UK with London Fashion Week and British Fashion Council. They give so much support to young designers, and push them a lot. We don’t have the same in France.
I have studied and worked in London for many years now, but I am Turkish. Even though Turkey is strong at textiles and production, there is no systematic help for designers there too. Most countries don’t see the importance of supporting young designers – the UK is special in that sense. But still, if a designer will hire one person at the beginning their career, who should that person be?
You need someone that can help with everything. When you get an order, it is important to get your collection in time. It is great if you can do your lookbook in advance. Someone that can help you with press, with contacting people, production of the collection, production of the showroom. You need someone to help you to do everything as early as possible.
“Follow your instincts and when it comes to style, don’t worry about the current styles.”
Do you think customers right now are more interested in young designers?
I think we are all a little tired of big brands which are the same everywhere and who don’t really renew themselves. Very strong brands like Vetements are being copied by companies like H&M, and they are very fast at it. Everyone copies young designers because they have a strong image.
Are we in a transitional period right now, where there are no specific rules and designers can create their own path and be successful?
What is interesting right now is that a lot is coming into industry just from the streets. You see something on a celebrity; it goes super fast. It is about ‘see now, buy now’. It is true that we are in a moment of transition, but I am not sure if it actually changed a lot for a young designer to establish themselves. It is not only that the system is moving, I think for a young designer starting up a brand, you still have to focus on your collection, make sure it is still relevant.
In a previous interview of yours, I read that you would like to see a ‘buy button’ on Instagram. It would be great, but at the same time a bit scary.
The ‘buy button’ is actually happening; there are apps where you do exactly that.
Do you think the influence of social media is negative or positive?
Well, you need to be careful. It is a great way to communicate. It is fantastic to be so well informed all the time. We have now been open for twenty years and I know that a dress can be on the covers of all the magazines, it can be super strong for press, but it might not always be good for sales, unfortunately. And this is what I love: making a selection which is good for both press and sales. Sometimes there are some pieces that are everywhere in the press and on social media, but they remain on the shop floor and you don’t know why. It doesn’t mean that that look is bad. You can love it, but not really want to be the person who wears it.
Do you think that young designers should discount their pieces at the end of the season in the same way that big brands do, or can a different model work for them?
I’m not sure if there are other solutions, I would be interested to know…
“Sometimes there are some pieces that are everywhere in the press and on social media, but they remain on the shop floor and you don’t know why.”
As a young designer, there are many moments where you question everything. Your style, your decisions, your timing…
You shouldn’t be asking these kinds of questions to yourself. There is space for everything. There are lots of shops around the world and lots of different people. You should do what your instincts are saying. Follow your instincts and when it comes to style, don’t worry about the current styles.
What is a big no for you in the work or attitude of a designer?
I’m sensitive to all kinds of little things… but you have to be extremely rude to get a big no! And I know how things can turn around in many ways…
Is there anything that young designers are not aware of that can really influence your work with them?
Not really, I think they have to try with all their energy. Some designers I meet say: “I was afraid to contact you.” Don’t be afraid!!!
How do you like to be approached by designers?
Again, no rules. I like to discover them by myself of course, through the Internet, showrooms or social media or friends, but I don’t mind being contacted directly, and it happens a lot.
Could it be better for new brands to show you their collections off the fashion week schedule? I can only imagine how many appointments you have during the fashion season – what would be the most ideal time for you?
Any time. Anywhere. Any place.
Interview Tuğcan Dökmen Illustration Eden Barrena
ne of the futuristic promises of 3D printing in fashion was that one day the technology would allow you to walk into a store, give the staff your measurements, and walk out with a garment made on the spot, just for you.Read More
By Benjamin S. Seigel, of Counsel to Greenberg & Bass in the January issue of Fashion Manuscript
(The names used in this article are fictious. Any resemblance to actual names is unintended and is purely coincidental)
Does this sound familiar? Modern Girl, a 50-store chain of women’s apparel is sued for infringement of a copyright claimed to be owned by Happy Prints. Modern Girl purchases hundreds of fabrics from suppliers all over the world. It has enjoyed a substantial profitable business resulting from it’s unique fabrics containing colorful geometric and floral designs. Happy Prints is seeking millions of dollars in damages as a result of the claimed infringement of its copyrighted floral print design fabric used to manufacture skirts that are being sold in the Modern Girl’s store. Modern Girl attempts to contact the Chinese manufacturer of the fabric it’s purchased but learns that it is no longer in business.
Modern Girl attempts to resolve the litigation through settlement discussions with Happy Prints principal without success. It then retains a lawyer to defend the action and there follows months of intense litigation; interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admission, depositions and related Court hearings resulting in tens of thousands of dollars spent in attorney fees and costs. Modern Girl claims it was unaware that the design was copyrighted because it was very similar to dozens of other fabric designs used by it and its competitors over the past decade. In the course of the litigation Happy Prints produced a
copy of the patent registration. Although the designs were similar there were differences that could be pointed out to a judge or jury. Modern Girl believed that the differences were substantial and could be detected by any reasonable person.
The parties agree to go to mediation in an effort to resolve the litigation. After a day of mediation Modern Girl is told by its attorney that continuing the litigation and going to trial will be risky. A judge or jury could decide in favor of Happy Prints and award untold damages and perhaps even require Modern Girl to pay the attorney fees incurred by Happy Prints. After continuing the mediation into the evening hours, Modern Girl makes a business decision and agrees to settle for $500,000 and destroy the remaining inventory containing the infringing ﬂoral print.
How could Modern Girl have avoided the litigation? There are precautions that can be taken. However, none will guarantee that litigation such as this will not be brought by attorneys, referred to as “patent trolls” who initiate bringing numerous actions of this nature. Here are some things that could prevent or defeat patent troll litigation:
1. When a pattern is shown, ask the manufacturer if it has been copyrighted. If not then ask for an indemnifcation agreement. If suit is brought the indemnifcation agreement will provide the
basis for a cross-complaint against the fabric supplier.
2. If the fabric supplier advises that the pattern is copyrighted, obtain a copy of the copyright registration, which includes a sample of the copyrighted design.
3. If the supplier will not provide an indemnifcation agreement or a copy of the copyright registration think twice before purchasing the fabric. If you decide to go forward, understand
the risks that there are patent trolls lurking in the background.
4. Your attorney may be able to search the copyright registration records to determine if there are similar designs that have been copyrighted. If so, obtain copies and understand the risk that the fabric being purchased, if similar, may be grounds for litigation.
5. In the event that you are sued by a patent troll, you may still have the right to cross-complain against the fabric supplier for indemnifcation if it is still in business. However, suing such a supplier who is in a foreign country presents enormous challenges and substantial costs and attorney fees. Even if you succeed in obtaining an indemnifcation judgment, there are
problems in collecting the award, particularly when the supplier is in a foreign country.
In today’s business atmosphere if you know and understand the risks involved in purchasing printed fabrics from suppliers who are not well known to you, who are under-fnanced or have other operational problems that could lead to their inability to respond to an indemnifcation claim, and you are still willing to go forward with the purchase, the risk may be just another cost of doing business that you are willing to bear.
Read Ben Seigel's article in the November issue of Fashion Manuscript, a leading national apparel industry publication.Read More
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By From staff and wire reports
President Donald Trump pulled the plug Monday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his first step in replacing Barack Obama’s globalist trade policy with his protectionist “America First” ideals.
Some economists and analysts fear the move could rattle trade-dependent Southern California industries and the shippers who move the goods around. Still, others hope the tycoon-turned-politician’s multitiered strategy will buoy business here and across the nation.
“Great thing for the American worker that we just did,” said Trump, pausing for comments Monday in the Oval Office.
The president condemns massive free-trade agreements such as NAFTA that he believes have disadvantaged American workers and chased manufacturing and other jobs overseas.
But many in trade-steeped California are fearful.
“We have opened up a gap for another country, another leader to shape what the trade policy of the future is going to look like,” said Stephen Cheung, president of World Trade Center Los Angeles. “It takes us out of the conversation.”
The partnership, hammered out by the Obama administration over the past few years in an attempt to counter China and deepen U.S. ties in Asia, involved 11 other countries that account for about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
The mood in Washington on trade soured in recent years, however, and Obama never sent the accord to Congress for ratification, making Trump’s actions Monday largely symbolic.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Monday that the decision to abandon TPP “ushers in a new era of U.S. trade policy in which the Trump administration will pursue bilateral trade opportunities with allies around the globe.”
The White House has said it believes it is easier to negotiate bilateral agreements on equal terms, instead of a multinational pact such as TPP, in which a group of smaller counties can more easily exert their will.
Experts say the challenge with bilateral trade deals is that the Trump administration would have to complete far more negotiations and the final rules might not be uniform.
Trump’s boosters say such complex negotiations, however, are in the billionaire deal-maker’s wheelhouse.
“They are looking at it from a different perspective than Obama,” said Kenneth Wengrod, a member of the Southern California Regional District Export Council, appointed under the Obama administration but supportive of the policy shift.
John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, said Trump missed the point of TPP, which boosters said would have put the U.S. at the center of international negotiations.
“You pull the U.S. out and the great fear is that China steps into that void and leaves us out,” he said.
Though Obama labored for years to get the pact passed, some members of his own Democratic Party were skeptical of its impact on U.S. jobs, and the former president never sent it to Congress for ratification.
China is America’s largest trading partner, manufacturing everything from furniture to high-tech appliances to clothing. Trump branded the trade relationship lopsided and vowed to launch tariffs as high as 45 percent on the Asian giant.
If the flow of Chinese goods slows, some economists believe that will hurt the logistics industry that ships goods from mammoth ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles to miles of warehouses in the Inland Empire and beyond. The sector employed 650,000 people last year in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino.
“This was a loss of an opportunity in the short term and, in the long term, it opens up the opportunity for China to put together the equivalent of TPP with us left out, which would hurt Southern California,” Husing said.
But some say this move is just the first of many strategic steps Trump will take to defend American jobs.
“The new administration is trying to find ways to address and protect the U.S. manufacturer,” Wengrod said. “Where there is turmoil, there is opportunity.”
TPP was a flawed deal that ignored some key concerns in a complex international economy and would have fallen short for California, Wengrod argued.
“There are a lot of things that TPP didn’t address, like currency manipulation,” he said. ”When you can have people manipulating currency, that doesn’t bring parity to the world.”
Some say Trump’s bold moves have the potential to reshape the world economy and hand the U.S. the steering wheel.
The president met with key business leaders Monday, as well as union leaders.
Elon Musk, who owns major Tesla and SpaceX facilities in Hawthorne, and Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin were among the executives who sat in with the president.
Trade is just part of his formula, he reminded all of his guests. Trump said there will “be advantages” to companies that make their products in the United States and suggested he will impose a “substantial border tax” on foreign goods entering the country.
The president also repeated a campaign promise to cut regulations “by 75 percent, maybe more.”
“I would take the president at his word here,” Dow Chemical Chief Executive Andrew Liveris told the Washington Post. “He’s not going to do anything to harm competitiveness. He’s going to actually make us all more competitive.”
Michael Camuñez, a former assistant secretary of commerce at the International Trade Administration from 2010 and 2013, said he does not believe California will benefit.
“It’s a step backward for California’s interest,” Camunez said. “You are narrowing, not opening up, opportunities for new markets. That’s a setback for our economy.”
Camunez said TPP would have imposed labor standards, environmental rules and intellectual-rights protections that would benefit Southern California’s “Silicon Beach” tech industry, Hollywood’s recording artists and the booming gaming business.
Technological advances — such as automated production lines and streaming delivery of entertainment — have done more to slash jobs than overseas production losses, he argued.
“There is this perception that trade is bad for American workers,” Camunez said. “It’s technology and productivity that account for most of the job losses, not trade.”
He said TPP would have opened up agricultural markets in Central California and helped protect digital rights for Hollywood.
“It would have set a global standard for trade,” he said. “China would have had no choice but to play by the rules we set.”
Jock O’Connell, a trade adviser for Beacon Economics, said Trump’s approach is outdated.
“His trade policies are designed to address the need of manufacturing workers in the upper Midwest,” O’Connell said. “It penalizes the more advanced technology companies like those in California.”
Meanwhile, Trump made it clear he’s only getting started.
“We’re going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It’s really very important.”
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