TRIESTE, Italy — Greetings from sunny and beautiful Trieste, home to the annual International Talent Search, or ITS, competition. Earlier today, alongside some of our friends, including Nicola Formichetti and Floriane de Saint-Pierre, I met some very talented designers from around the world, each with very impressive concepts and, in some cases, the kind of extreme creativity that gets my heart racing.
But how do young creative designers like these succeed once they have entered the real world, one dominated by business people, revenue targets and sell-through metrics?
This week, we sat down with the dynamic duo Shane Gabier and Chris Peters behind the upstart New York label Creatures of the Wind. Shane and Chris have managed to do what so many young designers dream of: securing an experienced investor who can help them build a real business. One thing that came through loud and clear in this honest, forthright interview was that the designers (and their investors) understand the value of protecting creativity, while balancing this with sensible commercial and merchandising strategies. I think (and hope) these boys will go far.
Another talented fashion creative also shared some lessons of a completely different kind this week. Fashion's punk polymath Vincent Darré, who has lent his creativity to everything from Fendi’s collections by Karl Lagerfeld and the French and Italian editions of Vogue to the interiors of the nightclubs owned by Paris cool club king André Saraiva, recounted the ups and downs of his fascinating career, including a major stumble as creative director of Ungaro. Lesson learned?
“I’ve learned you just have to do what you want,” he said. “Be open to anything that might fall in your lap and just follow your instincts.” Sounds like sage advice from someone who knows what it is like to be consumed by the relentless demands of the contemporary fashion system.
There’s a completely different kind of system — something we called a ‘robot ballet’ — orchestrated by a company called Quiet Logistics in Devens, Massachussetts, where a combination of Kiva Systems robots and human touch powers order fulfilment for some of fashion's fastest-growing e-tailers, including Nasty Gal, Bonobos and The Fancy. It was the latest article in our series on the current state of e-commerce.
Speaking of The Fancy, it emerged this week that Joseph Einhorn, the company’s founder, who has previously secured investment from François-Henri Pinault, has recently raised a new round of funding from more A-list investors including American Express, billionaire Len Blavatnik and actor Will Smith, valuing the business at a whopping $600 million dollars. According to recent figures, provided to BoF by Mr Einhorn, the business is turning over about $100,000 a day, approximately $3 million a month.
It’s always inspiring to see entrepreneurs build something of real value, being used by real people, especially when there are so many other businesses raising pots of money without viable business models.
There was also big news in Europe this week. LVMH took the luxury world by surprise by announcing that it had taken a controlling stake of 80 percent in the ultra-luxe cashmere purveyor, Loro Piana, the holy grail of knitwear for many a fashion aficionado. The transaction has made billionaires out of Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana, the brothers who operate the company on behalf of their family.
That’s all from us this week. More fashion business news, analysis and opinion from BoF again bright and early on Monday morning. Until then, happy weekend to you all.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
How Creatures of the Wind Found Their Ideal Investor (Intelligence)
LVMH Takes 80 Percent Stake in Loro Piana for $2.6 Billion (News & Analysis)
Wheels of Fortune (Intelligence)