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Q&A September, 22 2010

Second Look | ASOS’s Purchase Off Runway Q&A’s

(L-R: Tim Soar, Unconditional)

The fashion calendar hasn’t made sense to us for a while so it’s only natural that someone would try to shorten it. Selling pieces straight from the runway has been an idea that was flouted around for a few years but, possibly due to Oki-Ni’s success with JW Anderson’s collection last season, it’s appearing like a viable option. ASOS are the latest retailer to take advantage of people’s lust for fashion, teaming up with several leading British designers to sell pieces directly from the runway. Involved in the project are Carolyn Massey, Tim Soar, James Long, Katie Eary & Unconditional (the latter’s pieces are already available on the site). So, with LFW’s menswear day happening as we type, we’ve interviewed each designer to gauge their thoughts on the project.

Take a leap to see our Q&A’s with each designer.

(L-R: Carolyn Massey, James Long)

Carolyn Massey

Can you tell me a bit more about the collection?
Carolyn Massey’s Spring Summer 2011 collection has been influenced by two books: ‘Un-Fashion’ by Tibor Kalman and ‘Farm’ by Jackie Nicolson.  Inspired by the unaffected and natural approach to masculine dressing depicted in the books, Carolyn’s latest collection also gives a distinct nod to the East, with a taste of  ‘functional wrapping’.   All this whilst retaining her eye for the quintessentially ‘English’ in menswear tailoring signed off with her signature ribbon detailing which runs through all the pieces.

It’s taken a while for British menswear to get retail support but it’s finally started happening, why do you think that is?
Its been a bit chicken and egg with the buyers/stores and the product. For years menswear was a lot more boring, now its getting more exciting its fueled an interest, and become a trend in itself. The stores are slowly catching up… some quicker than others!

What are the advantages of selling your product this way?
The must have side of fashion, the instant gratification of buying in this manner is something that is massively appealing to everyone- I like being able to be part of that. It feels more democratic.

Do you think things like this are the future of fashion?
With the lead times of fashion shortening, along with seasons becoming more temperate with the weather, this may well be the future –

With the fashion calendar calibrated the way it is, a project like this might be more successful for the AW season. Do you think the success of projects like this depends on which season this is done in?
I think it’s more to do with the must have now-ness of the product, rather than the season. You may spend more in AW, or talk yourself into that expensive coat, but generally if you gotta have it you gotta have it no matter what the season.

Do you feel that projects like this have the potential to alienate other retailers or will it force them to eventually change their buying schedules?
I think its all good for a bit of healthy competition. Brands and retailers are being forced to realise that that its not enough to churn out 2 or even 4 collections a year, its about special projects, limited edition collaborations. The consumer is educated and the consumer wants more.

Tim Soar

Can you tell me a bit more about the collection?
The collection explores some familiar TIM SOAR ‘themes’ – mix of tailoring, utility and sportswear. And some newer ones – 70s silhouette, longer lines, primary colours.

It’s taken a while for British menswear to get retail support but it’s finally started happening, why do you think that is?
Hmm… well I wish I knew the answer. In general men are cautious about exploring/buying into new brands, and I imagine that store buyers are therefore circumspect about buying into the unknown

What are the advantages of selling your product this way?
I think anything that engages the your customer, and keeps the shopping experience fresh is a good thing.

Do you think things like this are the future of fashion?
Yes, I think so. The internet encourages the desire for instant gratification.

With the fashion calendar calibrated the way it is, a project like this might be more successful for the AW season. Do you think the success of projects like this depends on which season this is done in?
In general AW seasons will always be bigger sellers in a cold and windy country like this. But I don’t think this idea is season specific.

Do you feel that projects like this have the potential to alienate other retailers or will it force them to eventually change their buying schedules?
I think Asos have put their money where their mouth is. Hats off to them. If other retailers don’t like it, it will be because it is a good idea.

Katie Eary

Can you tell me a bit more about the collection?
a wardrobe of designs inspired by the world of fighting dogs.
Trained to be brutal, powerful, relentless, they become alienated into outsiders with no place in society.
THERE IS NOBILITY IN THE RESTRAINT OF THE SAVAGE.
Leopard print appears as silk shirts, ultra-slim trousers and trenchcoats.
MADE IN ENGLAND.
Tartan, pleated shirts in a long, lean silhouette with gold press stud fastenings.
Mohair knit striped t-shirts.
Raw denim skater jeans with integrated silk shorts, gold studding at the knees and bulldog motif t-shirts.

It’s taken a while for British menswear to get retail support but it’s finally started happening, why do you think that is?

I believe Menswear is finally really being pushed as there is such a demand for it. For the first time we are able to showcase our collections on the Paris Mens fashion week schedule where all the buyers are- This has so far been the biggest push for me, and has really got the ball rolling!

What are the advantages of selling your product this way?
Exclusivity is never a bad thing. I believe everyone likes the idea of getting something they love before anyone else!

Do you think things like this are the future of fashion?
Lets see shall we. Haha.

With the fashion calendar calibrated the way it is, a project like this might be more successful for the AW season. Do you think the success of projects like this depends on which season this is done in?
Not for me… Spring Summer, winter Autumn, i always design for Winter… This is after all England, we have a 2 week summer and thats it really… Im not sure people dress in seasonal code unless there is a heat wave.

Do you feel that projects like this have the potential to alienate other retailers or will it force them to eventually change their buying schedules?

For me personally i have always designed quite outlandish pieces, and this collection i have managed to  create A collection that references British codes from Savile Row through punks and bruisers, with heavy contrast in a wearable way. Im pleased to pilot this as i would like to be remembered- iconically British. By ASOS showing interest i believe it will make other retailers see the commerciality of having a new designer in as opposed to ward them off…

James Long

Can you tell me a bit more about the collection?
Well the show is tomorrow so you can see it all. its a hallucangenic concoction of liquid spills.
It’s taken a while for British menswear to get retail support
 but it’s finally started happening, why do you think that is?
There is so many things happening on the menswear scene its quite exciting. The brave dive in.

What are the advantages of selling your product this way?
it means its more instant for the consumer and there is only a few pieces avaialble so its first come first served.
Do you think things like this are the future of fashion?

There will always be new ideas and concepts for selling in fashion to keep it new and exciting. its great. fashion love a new idea.
With the fashion calendar calibrated the way it is, a project 
like this might be more successful for the AW season. Do you think the
success of projects like this depends on which season this is done in?

we will have to wait and see, i think if someone is a follower of anything they will find and buy.

Do you feel that projects like this have the potential to 
alienate other retailers or will it force them to eventually change 
their buying schedules?

I have seen my shows go from having no retail buyers to a full retail attendance so its seems to be getting better. i think more british retailers should support british designers. i know lots of designers who sell internationally and have no support from a london store.

Unconditional

Can you tell me a bit more about the collection?
The SS0011 collection has been a very complex marriage of many disparate parts that in my head make a perfect whole! It increasingly made sense of when I again looked at the work of Peter Beard , one of my favourite artists, whose whole lifestyle I have always greatly admired and interests I share . Mirroring his life, I have said this collection could take you from the African bush to Manhattan ….. but I think the show may actually now cull some of those parts as to tell that story it would have to be 100 looks long.

It’s taken a while for British menswear to get retail support but it’s finally started happening, why do you think that is?
Personally I’m not really aware of that- my menswear was actually quite well received from day one, albeit in a niche way. Reading that back maybe sounds a bit like being up my own arse – not intended. What British menswear are you referring to ? …. Paul Smith is a major global player for example. If you mean some young British designers – I’m not sure- from my experience of the having the Concrete Shop, maybe some are too expensive, too “out there” and too over designed, and bad at delivery, poor quality… lots of reasons – but that’s the same all over the world. There will always be success and failure in everything everywhere. But maybe things being online does give things a far wider and much needed audience.

What are the advantages of selling your product this way?
No advantages really other than for the consumer who is not able to access product easily or who hates shopping… then it’s perfect for them. I could also add it’s also great to do it before the high street copy cats can get it in their shops before we can ourselves!

Do you think things like this are the future of fashion?
Fashion constantly evolves. Personally I think it’s nice to wait for something a little while, but also not too long or one can be over something … particularly when these days things are so exposed … it’s a delicate balance. The creation of desire is an interesting topic.

With the fashion calendar calibrated the way it is, a project like this might be more successful for the AW season. Do you think the success of projects like this depends on which season this is done in?
No not at all – also the market ASOS sells to is global. Most of the pieces we jointly selected are also very trans-seasonal… they are as perfect for now as next summer- if not more so.

Do you feel that projects like this have the potential to alienate other retailers or will it force them to eventually change their buying schedules?
Every viable retailer has their own customer base with their own needs – online needs are different to normal retail needs. Plus the shopping experience is entirely different. Personally, when buying more expensive things, I feel nothing online will ever replace going shopping in person; the experience is real as to what I see as almost virtual. However there is a certain convenience and if you know a brand well and know how it fits you, are aware of its quality, etc, then maybe it makes sense- plus it all depends on where you are situated. If you can’t get someone on a local shop then of course… it’s so easy to take being in central London for granted. If I were living in the Orkneys, I’d live for online shopping… when I wasn’t eating the most amazing fresh local food Second Look | ASOSs Purchase Off Runway Q&As …  !

Highsnobiety