By Nicole Jackson
At WWD Magic, designers from all over the world filled the convention floors, setting up booths for different types of products in the fashion industry, ranging from clothing apparel to accessories and more. Many of the brands at Magic we saw this week had participated in previous seasons, and there were also those who were making the trip for the first time.
The fashion market here at WWD Magic connects designers to potential buyers and manufacture companies, as well as offering extensive amounts of exposure and media--all by having a booth at one of the largest fashion conventions in the world. Established brands utilize these three days to publicize and expand their team, and most importantly, sell products! WWD Magic offers a smaller section for the up and coming designers who may not have the funding or expansive network to hold a booth. Every season, countless designers apply to be in the Emerging Designer Showcase, providing any media as well as the future business plans for the company for the selection process. Only a few are carefully chosen and presented by the FBI (Fashion Business Incorporated) and Global Purchasing Inc. I had the pleasure of interviewing each of the twelve designers who were given the opportunity to present their work this season, some of which took advantage of the LA Fashion Photo Studio for some professional live shots.
The first brand, A by Anubha, elaborated on their trip to magic last February as attendees, which had inspired Anubha Srivastava to submit to exhibit as an Emerging Designer. Using Indian hand spun fabrics from 100% cotton or wool, the line consists of mainly comfy, unique coats with the traditional Indian high necked cut, as well as few other clothing items that appeared on the runway at San Francisco Fashion Week. Each coat is hand made to order with the special touch of fabric buttons and organic dye for these one-of-a-kind colors.
The Las Vegas based Paul Redmond, who recently appeared at Concept during LA Fashion Week, is focused on keeping the buzz going for his bold garments. Finding his inspiration from the geometric shapes of mainly squares and triangles, these funky pieces were made for the brave fashionistas who aren't afraid to make a statement. I'd have to say, as extreme as the designs are, it's either a look you absolutely love or completely despise.
Love to relax and unwind at the beach in super soft Italian made silk paired with bright, cheerful colors? Berjheny's resort wear line Del Mar provides Columbian-made bikinis and an assortment of gorgeous beachwear pieces produced in New York. These eye-catching designs were created by Berjheny, influenced by nature and geometric shapes, as well as her love for travel. The brand hopes that after following up with the retailers they came into contact with this week and continuing to publicize their brand through trunk shows and E Commerce, they can venture to events in Milan and Ibiza.
With her background with lingerie and sleepwear, Kassie Wilson strove to create comfortable, easy to wear, easy to pack basics for women...meet Love Loungewear. Inspired by the female silhouette, her dresses, skirts, and ponchos reflect the soft, feminine side, and are perfectly comfy for sleepwear but can also be worn outside the home. In her past experience with retailing, Kassie was disappointed to see all the manufacturing happening overseas, so with her new eco-friendly line, she ensures that all of her products are hand crafted in the U.S., using 100% organic cotton, in hopes of creating jobs for her fellow Americans. Sustainable for the wardrobe and the economy--now that's the basic women's wear.
Award Winning American Designer Arefeh Mansouri launched her very own fashion couture line in 2007, which has since made appearances on red carpets, runways, and major Hollywood Productions. Her contemporary Avant-Garde flair reflects her love for the glamor of the 50s era, while her graphic patterns suit the styles of the modern day woman. Arefeh specializes in bridal designs, featuring Italian lace and French silk on traditional fairy tale gowns, with just a touch of architectural structure. Full of hidden talents, I also discovered that the gifted designer invented outsoles in her new shoes, called Flatplats, comfortable flats that offer support for feet that have suffered in heels all day long.
Slow and steady means success for Los Angeles-based Wearmena, a new boutique line for the woman who carries herself with elegance and class, but loves a look that she can rock on a bike. Designer Misty was captivated by the wit and elegance in the style of the 30s and 40s Hollywood stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, and strove to relay this strong, yet ultra feminine look in her line. The result: the same lovely vintage look she admired throughout her life, with a modern, romantic feel. Aiming for a stable growth, the brand plans to kick off with a roadshow to hit multiple cities where the Wearmena girl lives and shops.
Winner of Project Runway Season 12, the U.S. made Dom Streater Collection is partnered with Skai Blue media with the focus on boutique placements and wholesale. Using her school background in textile design, Dominique creates her own prints on high quality fabrics including silk and kona cotton. Her spring/summer line "Elevated" is inspired by the topography of a birds eye view from a plane, featuring reversible garments with a retro vibe.
Teacher turned fashion designer Sara Largent, had always longed to pursue her lifetime dream of getting into fashion, and after becoming a self-taught seamstress and creating patterns of her own, she has finally launched her first line into mass production in Dallas, Texas. Fancy Fox focuses on the classic vintage silhouettes that are eternally flattering, but adds a pop twist to modernize the look for today's girl. Tried and true, the hour-glass style is timeless, and Sara has had much luck with the smaller, ethically prioritized boutiques in her hometown, and is now looking to expand her brand.
Varying from the previous clothing designers, I next interviewed two handbag brands. Houston-based Bianca Chowdhury has an eye for quality and timelessness, apparent in her Shanaz luxury handbags made with real imported Italian leather. As a luxury brand with a focus on detail and quality, Bianca has experienced a lot of restraints on buyers, but is determined to be selective and keep the brand's standards high and is willing to put the effort in to end up in a department store next to Marc Jacobs and Coach. Lynn Tallerico's U.S. made leather handbags are a bit more versatile between luxury and casual, and rather than end up on the racks in a department store, she aims to work with boutiques for the feedback and proximity it allows with her customers.
Last but far from least, I came to the accessories...and oh does a girl love her bling! LK Atelier Jewelry came all the way from Hawaii, which is the inspiration for her collection, to showcase her casual, playful pieces as well as the more polished, professional ones. The Canada-based Dori Collection also traveled far with the goal of penetrating the U.S. fashion industry. Starting with simple beginnings in a jewelry store, Dori utilized her innovative creativity to launch her own brand of functional, yet trendy jewelry and accessories, including Ethiopian leather gloves with touchscreen capabilities, sheepskin earmuffs with built-in headphones, and stylish hats. The primary jewelry and custom made bridal pieces, as well as many of her other accessories are heavily influenced by her love of bows, available in sterling silver and gold--a classic cute that is both feminine and original. Another one of her signature pieces are the buffalo horn/bone wing-shaped earrings and necklaces (that she designed herself), all hand carved in Bali. Oh, did I also mention that she owns and manages her private talent agency for her selected team of models? Very young but driven to success...got to love it.
While speaking with and learning more about each designer, I was extremely impressed by the creativity and stunning presentation I encountered in the WWD Magic's Emerging Designer Showcase. For them, the competition was fierce, but the opportunity was well worth the effort. With media, manufacturers, and buyers all under the same roof, the trade show was the perfect place for these up and coming designers to mingle and network, expanding and creating buzz for their brands. Many of them expressed their satisfaction and excitement for the convention and the contacts they established, we sure hope to see them next season. Each of the twelve are well worth checking in to, or else they wouldn't have been chosen to showcase here at WWD Magic!