>> Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte became the first American designers to take home the 100,000 euro Swiss Textile Award last year, and the 2009 nominees are half American brands this time around: Thakoon Panichgul, Ohne Titel, Alexander Wang, Erdem, Alexis Mabille, and Peter Pilotto among them.
A winner will be announced Nov. 12, but in the meantime, Wang, who's been on an winning streak with the 2009 Swarovski Award for Womenswear and the 2008 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award under his belt, recently spoke to Vogue about how he's gotten so far in such a short time.
He's known for his model selection now, but in the beginning, they came from Craigslist.
"In one of the first pictures we did, the model, who we found on Craigslist, was just wearing a sweater, slouching, and smoking a cigarette. People identified with her then, and she hasn’t changed much since.”
"When I first started, my product was definitely a lot safer . . ." »
He stopped being so safe with his designs.
"When I first started, my product was definitely a lot safer than it is now, but my look book still had the same look, the same kind of girl . . . It’s important to put together a strong brand look — think about the kinds of trays you want to display your jewelry on; think about what kinds of props you want to use in the pictures that you take of your pieces."
He never forgets he's running a business.
“A lot of designers get caught up in the creativity, but you’ve got to think about the legs of your collection — essentially, how the line is going to move forward. Who is your customer? How are you going to merchandise your clothes so that they make sense to store buyers? How do you package it?"
He knows how to pander to magazine editors.
"Working at a magazine teaches you how to see these things, and how to see clothes the way that real women will see them. It’ll also show you what’s missing in the market. When I decided to launch my first knitwear line, it was because I saw a void in the basics category. The editors were always looking for cool, fashion-forward tees and sweaters. So that’s where I started.”