Radical Recruit

Talking to a downtown buyer who discovers young designers before 'Vogue' does

What are some classic pitfalls? Using really expensive fabrics early on. It's more about the cut, the silhouette, how it fits on the body, the feel of it. A lot of our designers use jersey and sweatshirt material. It's cheaper and makes the prices a lot more accessible.

As opposed to someone who found some unbelievable leather . . . Or yeah, like some silk chiffon that's 50 bucks a yard and they're doing dresses in it that cost $2,000. Again, why should a customer spend two grand on your dress when they can spend $2,000 on a dress from Proenza Schouler or Peter Som?

Anything else? Don't try to cash out too fast. I noticed a bunch of designers who we've worked for, I'm not going to name names, but in the past, they started out doing really radical work. They were barely making any money. But they were getting a wicked amount of publicity, due to how creative they were. They thought they could do basics to increase their sales and it totally backfired, they crashed and burned and now they're gone. They lost what made them unique. As a young designer, if you're going to make basic black turtlenecks, why should someone pay the same amount of money for your basic black turtleneck when they can get a Calvin Klein one? You have to keep going, and the money will follow you.

I guess it helps to have a rich dad. It's gross. But look at Zac Posen.

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