Brand Interviews

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Blue Jean Baby, LA Label

What difference does Indie Source make for its clients? We asked Blue Jean Baby’s Lola Rogers.

Lola Rogers gives us a real world look into how Indie Source delivers on its commitment to designers developing and producing their lines in Los Angeles. Lola has a commitment to Made In USA and a passion for the success of her eclectic and inspiring brand, Blue Jean Baby. In our interview, she reveals how partnering with Indie Source is making the difference in having it all come together beautifully.

Tell us about your line and what sets it apart.

Blue Jean Baby is the name of our line. My sister, Taylor, and I are from Texas, where the American classic – blue jeans – are a staple from farm girls to fashion girls alike! We love the easy going, care free vibe that a pair of blue jeans give to an outfit, but we have also always been drawn to luxurious fabrics that make up vintage lingerie, like silks and lace. Our line is a combination of these elements. We curate vintage as well as manufacture our own line.

A big part of our vintage line is our denim, predominately Levi’s 501’s, 505’s, and 517’s, but we also pick up Wrangler, Lee’s and any other unique looking denim we find when pulling vintage. The redline and selvedge Levi’s, we sell as is, in order to keep that authenticity, as some are from as early as the 1930’s. The later era denim, we rework with patches, embroidery, rosettes, etc. Our rework process is constantly evolving and it’s a lot of fun!

for-web-vintage1On the other side of things is our capsule collection, a vintage-modern twist on classic pieces like the slip dress, slip camisole, wide leg trousers, blazer with shoulder pads and a contrast hem, ruffle bloomer shorts, and a muscle tee. Our line is predominately silk, with a few cotton and rayons thrown in the mix. It is also all ivory, a simple neutral that we love because it can mix with anything … especially denim!

We love clothes that feel soft and easy, so that’s what we aim to create. Our Spring/Summer 16 line is mostly made from washed silks, linen, and cotton. We will continue to put an emphasis on quality fabric, as we believe that is what will set us apart from competing brands. High-quality fabrics are timeless.

We’re curating vintage, which we sell on Etsy currently, and once our line is being manufactured, we’re going to launch our vintage on our site, as well as our line. We’re hoping to open a storefront in Texas in the next year or so, and in the meantime we’re planning some pop-up shops in malls around Texas and possibly the LA area. We’re hoping to get on the festival scene or even get an airstream truck to sell our line on the road. We’ve done Flea Style in Houston and Dallas with our vintage collection and received a great response.

Who is your target customer?

Our customer is your laid back all-American girl who is inspired by culture, art, and music. She’s always down to try new things and meet new people because through these experiences she learns, finds new passions, and falls in love with what the world has to offer. On the other hand, she feels most at home in a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Blue Jean Baby will be a fusion of exactly that. Our vintage Levi’s are a focal point of our brand because they are a base on which any style can be built, like the first coat on a canvas.

for-web-me&tay-copyWho or what inspired you to create your line? 

Growing up with a very fashionable and creative mama – although she would probably tell me not to say that – and we learned a lot from her sense of style! She was always re-decorating our house and we would tag along to vintage shops around Dallas finding amazing pieces of furniture, sometimes she would re-cover chairs, or re-work vintage furniture. As we got older, we developed our own taste in vintage clothing and loved the adventure of finding new shops, scavenging for the best pieces, etc. We knew from a young age that we would love to have our own store.

We are most inspired by the craftsmanship of vintage clothing; the delicacy, quality, and thought put in are impressive. As customers, that matters to us. So, we want to deliver that same standard with our clothes.

What is your fashion background and what type of work were you involved in before developing your line?

I went to college at Arizona State University, and Taylor went to Texas State University. After I graduated, I went on to FIDM because I wanted to learn everything about the fashion industry. My first job out of college was at Topson Downs of California, a large scale manufacturer in Culver City. I was doing accessory design and development as well as sourcing for a 20 person design team, in multiple divisions. Working at Topson really gave me the tools and confidence to begin the basics of design, which starts with conceptualizing the line, and sourcing the right fabrics and trims.

Taylor went on to work in retail at Aritzia in the Chicago area, and I went to work for Versace after I left my job at Topson. Once we’d gained substantial knowledge in multiple aspects of the industry, we felt prepared to take on this adventure of our own line, Blue Jean Baby.

for-web-boutique-neonWhat stage are you at in the development process?

As far as our capsule collection goes, we are in the last stages of the development process, which is so exciting! As far as designing and sampling and getting everything right, the process is not quick, most the time things need a second sampling, as it’s hard to get everything just right. Even the smallest details cannot be overlooked to bring together a precise and inspired collection that flows just right. We should have all our complete and perfected samples done by the end of this week. From there, we’re going to do our photo shoot, look book and then we’re going into production.

With our vintage line, the development process is never really complete, because each piece is one of a kind, it requires constant searching for the right pieces. We have reliable sources for most items at this point, but there are always more places to scour! The embroidery on denim trend is really hot right now, so we’ve had a great response to that, but we try to be innovative and fresh, so we’re never really done finding new ways to rework those pieces.

What challenges did you face before working with Indie Source? How has Indie Source made a difference for your success?

We just started conceptualizing our line and brand as a whole around October 2015. So once we knew we wanted to start with smaller runs, we began looking for a boutique full product manufacturer in the Los Angeles area, as Made in USA is a crucial aspect of our line. We visited with a few, and Indie Source just stood out.

Our first meeting with Emily was great, she was able to answer all the questions we had and calm any fears we expressed to her, all the while being extremely down to earth and easy going! It felt like a great fit.

It has been amazing to work with a team that is
really just there for us, isn’t too pushy, and has been willing to both collaborate and completely sit back and let us do our thing. Having done sourcing for one of my previous jobs, it was really important to me that I was able to collaborate in this aspect- and when I expressed this, they did not hesitate to meet this expectation. I was able to spend a morning sourcing alongside Nara, which allowed me to assure that she understood what exactly I was looking for. Some places won’t give you the time to work with them side by side like that.

So the biggest challenge in designing and developing a great line is always going to be time. Everyone is always going to wish there was more time in the day to get everything necessary done, especially when you’re working with different sources that all must work together to get one style done. Our project manager, Jennifer, has played a huge role in keeping us organized and on track. Having someone like her assures that little parts of the process, like care labels and hangtags, that can easily be overlooked in the craziness of creating and developing a line, are completed and ordered on time.

As far as production, we are just getting started, but I know that having someone work out our costing, is a huge, huge plus for us. Building our brand is the most important thing to us, but making money is obviously what we came here to do. So having someone we trust to crunch those numbers and assure that we are on track is a big factor for us.

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Is there anything you would have done differently?

The only thing we think we can improve on is just timing. When we decided to actually do this thing, we were in between seasons and new to the whole process, so we were designing with a certain season in mind and ended up having to adapt and change certain things to meet deadlines and ensure our product will hit the market at the ideal time to sell. When you are a creative mind, things can kind of take off in the direction of your art, but in the end, this is a money game, and staying on track is essential!

What has been the best surprise along your journey so far?

I think just the genuine response we’ve gotten from friends, family, and our vintage buyers thus far, has been the biggest victory! Having sorority sisters, and old friends reach out telling me they have told boutique owners about us, and not only that, but that they have gotten great responses, has been unbelievable!

 

for-web-neonWhat advice would you give to aspiring designers?

Follow your dreams! The marketplace may seem intimidating these days, everything is oversaturated and there is seemingly endless competition but staying true to YOU is what will set you apart from the crowd. You have an idea that you think is brilliant and you start Googling and you see it’s already been done. Fashion is always going to be a “knock off”. There’s no new silhouette you can come up with; everything’s been done. It’s all about putting your own flair on things. Confidence is key. My sister and I were very nervous at our fist show and the more you’re in the moment and making things happen and hearing people respond to things, it changes everything 100 percent. You have to just start doing it.

Not feeling the pressure to know it all is important. My dad was CEO of a company and he would say, “I don’t look to hire people who I’m smarter than; I want to hire people who are smarter than me”. He wanted to bring people onto his team who could teach him things and provide a new, fresh point of view.” That gave me a lot of insight. In my first meetings I felt nervous and shy about not knowing everything. But I realized the reason for working with other people is to learn and hear their ideas and get inspired from that. Knowing your strengths, and knowing when to sit back and listen to other people is key.

Everyone is afraid, no matter what people say. It’s scary to invest in yourself sometimes, but that’s the best thing you can do. Take the time to learn as much as you can before you go out on that limb, but there is no way you can know everything. Once you take that leap, you learn that you must be willing to adapt and learn as you go. Things will be thrown at you and you will be forced to make big decisions, but you will rise to the occasion, I promise!

Jesse Dombrowiak

Interview with Production Manager of Electric Yoga

You. Are. Electric. This slogan is found on Electric Yoga’s website and definitely describes the feeling woman will feel while wearing one of their pieces. Customers are deemed as “electrifiers” according to owner, designer and master yogi Michelle Bohbot. Bohbot opened Electric Yoga in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles with her daughter, Stephanie Bohbot, with the purpose to combine modern fashion and function to each of their pieces. Each of these characteristics are evident when browsing their online store. Leggings feature bright colors and unique designs with the perfect mix of Nylon and Spandex. Accessories, outerwear, tops and bottoms are also sold in their store It also helps that Michelle Bohbot was previously a fashion designer for 20 years with Bisou Bisou. Indie Source conducted an interview with the daughter Stephanie Bohbot, who is the production manager at Electric Yoga. Read on for Stephanie’s view of how she produces their successful line. www.electricyoga.comIMG_0952

Interview conducted by Laura Stone

Q1: I see you are a production manager for Electric Yoga. Why did you decide to work for Electric Yoga?

A1: I believed in the line and its potential. The colors were different. The patterns were sexy, but most of all the bras were supportive! I knew the line was heading in the right direction.

Q2: What are the day-to-day duties of a production manager? How would you describe the lifestyle?

A2: Constantly meeting with different factories. Attending trade shows and expos to see what are the latest trends.

Q3: What is the most challenging part of what you do, and how have you been prepared or have prepared yourself to tackle it during the day-to-day?

A3: Being organized. I was very disorganized and in order to succeed in production, you must keep every file and document every change. Files within files needed to be made. Once I figured that out, my life as a production manager came together and I was able to work more efficiently!

Q4: What do you wish you had known before getting into fashion production?

A4: How organized you have to be. I wish I was trained on being organized.

Q5: What advice would you give for people trying to start their careers as production managers, or any other part of a fashion production team?

A5: That you must believe in the products and that you have to wear every item to decide what changes should be made and go from there.

Q6: You have your line manufactured in the United States. What are the advantages of this?

A6: The quality is amazing. The feel of the material is luxurious. You don’t see sweat marks. Every item either has a dual function or is super detailed and catered to the woman who is active.

Jesse Dombrowiak

Allison Andrews’ approach towards Fashion Week

In its eighth season, FWSD 2014 is  on the rise of establishing the coastal-beachside city of San Diego as a viable platform for fashion designers & industry  professionals from all over the world. The city of San Diego is becoming an ideal fashion destination for industry professionals to  showcase their latest collections with the support of visionary Allison Andrews, Founder & Director of FWSD. And, despite San Diego’s laid back fashion culture of beachwear attire with staple pieces of  tank tops and flip flops, Andrews exemplifies how San Diego embraces an immense appreciation for  high fashion couture, capturing the very pulse of San Diego with all its creativity and style. FWSD  is vastly becoming a place that encompasses everything in fashion—–because just like how art is subject to personal interpretation, so is fashion and Andrews feels it is important to see the uniqueness of each designer.  It is through her commitment and dedication that she is at the forefront of rallying community involvement, and vastly establishing the runways of San Diego to be a canvas for fashion designer to display their artistic creations,  while simultaneously providing consumers access to the latest trends and styles.

San Diego  is progressively becoming one of the major fashion capitals within the US—housing so much talent from their local designers while welcoming international talent from abroad.  It makes sense, since San Diego is already a major travel destination in the US and to merge San Diego’s tourism with fashion is an ideal location for designers to springboard their careers and get noticed and be seen.

FWSD is not trying to be anything else, but FWSD,” shares Andrews. “We were created to give a reputable and quality place for designers from everywhere in the world to show their collection to the general consumer, and [those in] the industry that can help them launch their career. This is what we do and what we stand for.” This is one of the major differences of FWSD, and its approach, because not only is it a showcasing to preview the latest trend-setting styles down the runway, FWSD  is evolving into a platform to help grow the fashion designers artistic creativity into a successful and lucrative business in the marketplace.  With FWSD, Andrews incorporates and offers business workshops along with personalized trunk shows to help promote brand recognition and provide designers that maximum exposure needed for their brand, leading up to the actual festivities of FWSD’s catwalk., which is usually held the first week of October.

Even fashion designer, Wilhelmina from Star Fashion House, who has been in the industry for over thirty years had the opportunity to participate in a personalized fashion luncheon and trunk show at La Jolla’s charmingly prestigious La Valencia Hotel.— reminiscent of a time when women would engage in having high tea and models would twirl about wearing the latest fashion and trends.  This was an ideal location for Wilhelmina to have women preview her latest collection prior to showcasing on the runways of FWSD.  And, since her clothing boutique is located within La Jolla, where she caters to the sophisticated high-society woman housing upscale ready-wear clothing with an emphasis of couture cocktail evening gowns and bridal fashions—having a private showing of her collection at La Valencia Hotel  was definitely the right venue for her.

Wilhelmina FWSD

And, as Andrews continues to break ground embracing all facets of fashion, it is no surprise that this year’s FWSD winner for “San Diego’s Top Designer of 2014”—-was awarded to A’doreus- a high fashion couture clothing line for the plus-size woman.  Sharlene Borromeo, creator and fashion designer of A’doreus,  has passionately dedicated her career in establishing more of a fashion selection and providing clothing options for the plus-size women. She designs contemporary and timeless pieces for the full-figured silhouette of a woman, and though she has been challenged with some of the negative comments regarding the difficulty with pre-conceived notions of taking plus-size women’s clothing and evolving it into mainstream high fashion, she has always stayed the course and now has achieved the recognition as “FWSD’s Top Designer of 2014.”

A'doreus FWSD 

As  Borromeo glances at her sketches, she fondly reflects on her overall experiences and all that she acquired and gained by participating in FWSD.  “FWSD and Allison hold the designers accountable, and it has taught me how to work through my weaknesses and capitalize on my strengths….I highly [recommend] any emerging designer  to participate in [FWSD].”  Borromeo  enthusiastically commented.   “There is no better way to learn how to work through the struggles than to just jump in and do it. But, the key element is to return a second year, so that you can quantitatively measure your progress, gain the momentum to continue, and dream bigger.”

“I am most proud of myself, because throughout this entire journey I was transparent and stuck to my vision.”

 

To learn more about FWSD, you could log onto:  http://fashionweeksd.com/ and to inquire on how to become one of the participating designers for the upcoming FWSD 2015, you could contact Indie Source’s PR/Marketing Dept at (858) 472-6204 and ask for Joyce

 To check out Wilhelmina and Star Fashion House and the latest with her evening cocktail and bridal wear, especially as we are fast approaching the holidays, log onto starfashio2.wix.com/boutique


To check out more about high-fashion couture plus-size fashions with Sharlene Borromeo and A’doreus, you could log onto http://adoreusfashion.com/

 

Wilhelmina FWSD '14

Jesse Dombrowiak

Developing a High-End Clothing Line; Q&A w/ Meir Yamin

Meir Yamin, fashion designer of Donatella Dresses launched his line of sexy upscale dresses and clothing in spring/summer 2011, showcasing his collection of attainable luxury that displayed his flare for rich detail and embellishments with unique and electrifying pieces. With his designs, Yamin created glamorous and sophisticated looks, incorporating vibrant colors, exuding a woman’s sex appeal from the “hott” beaches of Miami. His looks and style of clothing is something that can be seen straight out from the Kardashian’s, with the intention of bringing out the celebrity persona in everyone. We are fortunate enough to have Yamin share with Indie Source and our network of emerging industry professionals how he was able to create and produce such beautiful designs and take it to the marketplace; from starting a sample to going into production and finding the right clientele for his garments of clothing. In addition, Yamin provides us insight on his decision to go 100% US Made & some of the benefits and challenges he has had along the way in selecting this pathway for his brand.

1) Q: Yamin, in establishing a creative idea for design, how challenging was it to implement an initial sample of your design and what were some of the first steps you took to have your vision come to life?

A: Any first collection is a bit exciting and confusing at the same time. The process brings up a lot of practical questions, such as: What inspires me and how to translate it to fabric choices and from there to the actual design. The first steps were to collect the right ideas and find the right fabrics and trims to make the collection come to life.

 Donatella Black Dress

2) Q: In finding a good pattern maker and seamstress, what advice can you render to select an ideal candidate and professional who could assist in creating your samples?

A: The pattern maker should be able to find mistake that I didn’t take under consideration while designing. The idea is to create designs that will look right and at the same time not to delay the production. Some designs were found time-consuming and in production they just delayed everything and we were behind on orders. If the pattern maker and the seamstress were able to recognize that in the sampling stage, we could have saved a lot of time and probably money too.

 

3) Q: When choosing various textiles and fabrics along with different textures to incorporate with your design, how challenging is it to balance price points to reduce costs, but not compromise the integrity of your designs?

A: That’s one of the biggest issues in production. Sometimes I can find a fabric or accessory that I would like to have in the collection, but the price of it is too high to stay in our line price point. There are two choices: 1. To give up on the design; or 2. To make this design a limited edition with a small quantity.

 

4) Q: In following Q:3, I understand with the Donatella brand that everything is made and manufactured in the US. Though, honorable, how are you able to compete with other brands that decide to go abroad to reduce manufacturing costs and are able to produce garments of clothing similar to the Donatella brand, and can sell them for a half of the price of your clothing?

A: We deal with this issue all year long. We actually have other companies from around the world that come to our booths in trade shows and just take a catalog and 6 months after we see our designs in a cheaper version. Clients care for price and quality— We don’t compromise with our quality and I think that is what plays a big role in the progression of our brand with Donatella. Beside that, some countries that import our goods buy from us because our goods are made in USA and not China or India. It is important for us to support the American economy and it’s important for us to create more jobs in America. I just wish that the government could help us a bit with this initiative.

 

5) Q: Can you please share with our network of industry professionals, what key tips to consider when deciding to stay within the US for production, what are the benefits and challenges to manufacturing within the United States?

A: Some clients like to buy American made. Made in USA means quality and above all “Made in the right conditions” – which means, everybody received the financial compensation that they deserved , no one is being used and we work by the law and labor standards. I feel this is important for some clients to ensure that they are not supporting any forms of labor and manufacturing abuse including child slavery.

 

6) Q: Please tell us a few key concepts a new designer should consider and evaluate in the whole development process during the design phase of creating a more high-end clothing line of merchandise?

A: Always care for high quality and don’t compromise the sewing process. Always buy fabrics from a reliable supplier that can remake/reorder the same types of fabrics if needed for your designs. Do not over price your items, while maintaining your quality standards and finding that balance.

 

7) Q: Can you please provide our network of emerging industry professionals effective marketing techniques and strategies you’ve used to test your designs, and get feedback from your target clientele before going into production with your designs?

A: For us it’s a little different. We own retail stores, so we test designs in our stores before adding them to the final collection. Other designers make a group of samples for feedback, while showing and selling the current collection. They ask their clients for their opinion on the new samples and this way they direct & promote their upcoming collection.

 

8) Q: How do you, as a fashion designer, get motivation and inspiration for your designs and keep it fresh and new from each season to the next, while maintaining the continuity of your brand?

A: Every season there is something else that inspires me; however, there is a concept that I have to work under, so I don’t go out of the frame of our line concept. A metaphor is like telling a few different chefs to make a dish with strawberries. The dishes will all be different, but the concept will be the strawberries. The same with my collection of clothing; they all have the “Bling” concept, but many designs can go under that category.

 

9) Q: What advice can you share with designers, who are starting to enter the fashion industry, that would be beneficial on how to get their designs the proper copyright and licensing for their designs, once they are ready to go into the production phase?

A: My suggestion would be to first decide on what designs will be included in the next collection. After checking in the collection, determine what designs are originals and are important to be copyrighted, then contact a lawyer or a company that specializes in that matter.

 

10) Q: What are some time-saving tips you can provide during the design element to assist with stressful deadlines of staying on top of your production for all your orders etc.?

A: Simply, not to work with too many fabrics or too many trims.

 

11) Q: If you could provide one piece of invaluable advice to new designers that will help them during the initial design stages of developing their clothing line that you would have done from the get go, if only you knew what you knew now, what would it be?

A: Beside talent, it requires the right funding. Never start a collection using all your money. There will always be some extra expense on something you didn’t consider.

Donatella Dresses

12) Q: Lastly, what is your definition of good design in the marketplace and how does that translate into the celebrity persona for the everyday consumer? To add further, we were told by one of your sales reps from Magic Marketweek Feb 2014 that your clothing has been featured in some of the reality shows such as Housewives of Beverly Hills, please share with our network of followers how this came about for your brand, and let us say congratulations for such an opportunity!

A: Thank you ! Well… It’s always nice to see my designs on TV, especially on the right celebrity. This helps in marketing and it sure does create a buzz. In the Housewives case… we never sent them anything, they just purchased my dresses in stores in their area. This season my dresses were purchased to be on one of the starts of the show “Married to Medicine.” It’s always exciting !

 

On behalf of Indie Source, we would like to thank you for sharing some invaluable information based on your personal journey of developing your brand of Donatella Dresses, with our network of industry professionals. We know they will find your insight of valuable advice useful and beneficial. Thank you for helping us pay it forward and educate those who are starting out in the industry, by sharing your area of expertise in the initial design phase of production. We feel that our network of up-and-coming industry professionals will find potential solutions based on your experiences within the professional world of fashion. But, most of all, thank you for sharing with us how you were able to get your unique and luxurious designs to jump of the paper, get a sample made, and test the marketplace to take it to your niche clientele of higher-end consumers. Donatella definitely is a brand that caters to consumers, who exudes and creates a celebrity lifestyle & persona for themselves.

 

To read more on Donatella and check out their latest fashions, go to

www.donatelladress.com

 

 

Jesse Dombrowiak

J.Toor’s: A Classic Tailor-fit For Modern Conscious Male

With modern technology streamlining simple apparel design in the men’s fashion industry and constantly mass-producing garments at increasingly high volumes, it’s impossible not to grow nostalgic for unique and authentic styles. Luxury bespoke design house J. Toor, has made a name for its menswear brand by mastering this challenging creative balance. Looking at their signature intricate, meticulously tailored, and overall thoughtfully made bespoke suits; it’s clear that J. Toor’s classic aesthetic and modern conscious that will be reshaping the lifestyle and wardrobes of all true Modern Gentlemen.

J Toor

After graduating from college, J. Toor founders Jivesh Toor, Diana McCarty, and Jamie Pate established and founded their Chicago-based design house, which quickly became a vehicle to bring back the quintessential English style of menswear. Attuned to modern styling and employing their vast knowledge of menswear, the trio produced looks for men that are classically refined but far from being staid and outdated. Their suits are a refreshing mix, marrying the old and new by combining the best heritage fabrics with updated cuts adding pops of color. With their show-stopping fashions, they have successfully reinstated the high quality standards of crafting any garment for the modern day gentleman. Their design studio houses suits that are unforgettable pieces of wearable art, creating an experience not only for the stylish client, but for all fashion admireres, who can appreciate attention to the finest of detail.

 

Like the physical garments itself, the J.Toor individualized and personable experience is memorable for all clientele, unlike the many impersonal shopping experiences that are too frequent in today’s world. J. Toor invites the fashionably elite to private appointments at their exclusive speakeasy style Gold Coast suite, where upon arrival, they partake in a conversation on their own fashion style and clothing needs with a J. Toor designer over a glass of scotch.

 

Jtoor MenswearThe uniqueness of J. Toor’s custom design process is that completed suits speak not only to the J. Toor aesthetic, but are also direct reflections of the wearers themselves.  Clients are treated to an abundance of lavish suiting options within J. Toor’s luxury English style, choosing from an abundance of fabric patterns and weights from the top European suiting mills such as Holland & Sherry, Loro Piana, Zenga, Cerruti, Scabal, Drago, and more. However, the client’s choices don’t stop at just the outside fabric of the suit. J. Toor stands by their dedication to quality and their beliefs the inside of any garment should be just as impeccable as the outside. So, client’s can also choose to add splashes of color in the jacket lining, aside from it’s already completely canvassed horsehair-lined interior. To J.Toor, not one detail is too small. They let their clientele choose the parts of theirsuit down to its under collar, button holes, jacket lining, and hand stitching.

Every part of a J. Toor suit is collaboration between the client and the designer,making the design house a leader in extremely customizable men’s suiting and accessories. Jivesh Toor, sites this as one of the brand’s most competitive advantages. “What sets us apart from the rest is the immense design factor that we include in our services. There is simply no other clothier that offers such an in-depth level of design customization at our prices,” says Toor.

 

Redefining luxury standards, giving the consumer more stylish options, and putting the personal connection back into men’s fashion, J. Toor is a leader in the new era of dapper bespoke menswear. With an array of upscale styles fit for all seasons and a plethora of detail and accent options, J. Toor helps clothe men in standout pieces for all functions. From the Chicago businessmen conducting meetings in the middle of winter, to the groom wed on the Chicago River of a Midwestern summer wedding, J. Toor’s suiting are tailor made for any fashionable affair. Reflecting the individual’s own fashion sense and personality, J. Toor’s bespoke suits are a perfect fit for the sartorial modern gentleman.

 

150 150 Jesse Dombrowiak

International Clothing Line Shares about Creating Apparel

As one of the exhibitors of Magic Marketweek Feb 2014, Indie Source, got a chance to meet with Founders, Sheena Gao and Laura Krusemark from the brand International Citizen (i.CTZN), who was also awarded as being “Best Emerging Designer,” for Magic Marketweek’s 2012. We wanted to sit down with i.CTZN to hear more about their personal story on creating an apparel line with global appeal that is unifying various cultures from around the world. Here we got the scoop from some eclectic ladies that have some interesting strategies and techniques to share with aspiring designers. Our interview is as follows:

 

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Q: Please tell our professional network at Indie Source how the brand of International Citizen came about? What was the brainchild behind iCTZN?

A: After 15 years of working in Apparel Product Development with some of the leading retailers in the U.S., as well as mentoring many talented designers from Europe, Asia, and U.S.A., I decided I had the perfect opportunity to launch a fashion line, something I had been wanting to do for a long time. Along with my talented friend, fellow fashion designer Laura Krusemark, we formed International Citizen Design House, LLC also known as International Citizen [i.CTZN]. The brand is based on inspiration from both of our passions for world travel and fashion.

 

Q: So, how do you take an idea and concept that spans world-wide, meant to unify all cultures, and develop an apparel line that reaches a broad spectrum of individuals to create mass appeal? What type of research did you both do before going into production with your line, so you knew you would attain a global desirability for your brand?

A:  From our world travels, we’ve realized there is a niche market for our unique style that blends cultural details into the garments.  We incorporate these cultures and countries by showing their flags as patches or screen-print calligraphy in different languages but all with a universal style that is comfortable to wear and easy for travel.

 

Q: Is there a particular age demographic for iCTZN? If so, can you please tell us more about your target consumers and who you feel are the buyers of your brand of clothing and why?

 A:  Our demographic is between the ages of 28 and 48. We target a middle to upper class individual that has a strong level of education, works in the creative field, is inspired by travel, international cuisine, music and learning about the cultures of others. Our clothing stands out clearly from other brands and the demographic we cater to is always excited when they get to touch and feel our product. Its all about getting in front of the right people, at volume.

 

Q: Is i.CTZN currently abroad in any specialty stores that are located in foreign markets? If so, how were you able to tap into those markets? Please give our network some solid tips to break into certain markets based on some of your personal experiences of being in the industry in regards to building iCTZN’s brand on an international level?

A:  Yes, we are currently carried in stores in Tokyo, Japan and have lots of interest from Germany, Spain and France as well as Canada. We were able to find these buyers by doing trade shows such as MAGIC.  We find the best way to break into the market and find new buyers is by doing these trade shows…as many as possible for the best exposure. We have also done fashion shows and been featured in magazines which helps for the branding and exposure, but for actual sales, tradeshows have been the most valuable.

 

Q: If you are physically not in markets abroad, does i.CTZN produce a lot of online sales on a global level; and if so, what type of online marketing have you done to be effective in gaining an online presence of followers to promote sales abroad?

A: We have our website online and we also promote and sell on Amazon and Etsy which are both Internationally known sites.  We also have followers on our Facebook fan page, Twitter, our blog, Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest – all of these sites provide international exposure and allow us to have more the most reach.

 

Q: Where is iCTZN housed, where can consumers purchase your clothing– in stores locally here within the US and online, and how did you connect with the owners and boutiques of some of these stores?

A: We are based out of West Hollywood and consumers can purchase our current inventory on Etsy.  However, we predominately focus on wholesale to buyers for retailers.  Most all of these storeowners have met us through doing trade shows such as MAGIC.

 

Q: Can you please share with Indie Source and our followers some current projects that i.CTZN is involved in that our professional network of followers would be interested in hearing about, so we could keep an eye out and promote iCTZN with these endeavors?

A:    We will be showing with RAW Artists fashion show coming up on April 13th in Hollywood and also working on partnership and licensing with Paramount Pics.  Please follow our progress on our Facebook fan page, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates and news on International Citizen’s events.

 

Q: Since the world is so big, how do you strategize and determine what destinations to hit up first, and what are specifically some pre-marketing tests that you perform to do some of the analytics to verify if i.CTZN’s clothing will be well received in various countries abroad?

A: We have worked with a marketing company in Spain, who have recommended testing our product in fashion capitals such as Berlin, Milan, Barcelona and London. We have discussed a gorilla style marketing technique(s) to introduce the brand to their markets and see how well received they are.  In our four year experience, our feedback from European countries as well as Asian countries have been very positive so I know we would have a good customer following there.

 

Q: Lastly, what does i.CTZN mean to you and what type of lasting impression do you want i.CTZN to have within the industry of the world of fashion and for your consumers?

A: We are dedicated to promoting the power of universal oneness and creating openness between cultures and countries through unique men’s and women’s fashion. We hope we can continue to represent this vision and create a lasting impression within the world of fashion for many years to come.

International Citizen Apparel

International Citizen Apparel


Jesse Dombrowiak

Onzie Yoga Apparel; Q&A w/ Founder Kimberly Swarth

More than two decades ago, Yoga became a lifestyle practice for Kimberly Swarth and with it, the driving force of her business. Swarth has another milestone coming for her next year; she is coming into motherhood. Now that the Onzie brand, pronounced OWN-zee, has been well loved within the culture of fitness and training, she takes most of her work / life balance along with her vision, in the most wonderful humor. “My brand will pierce the heavens” could easily be her mantra—and until today, her thriving L.A business has been her baby. Swarth shares her wit and wisdom with Indie Source in an exclusive interview.

Q: Are you just the woman behind the Onzie brand, or are you part of an out-front effort to manufacture a holistic line of active wear?

A: We have really created this business as a team here. In terms of creating the brand, I feel that the people who are here with us have created it—this brand is not even really me anymore. We have created a workplace culture, a powerful all female crew with an entity of its own.

Q: How did your team come into being?

A: Each person here came to us in a different way, there was not a usual hiring process, everyone is so unique and brings a piece to the puzzle—each one an individual in our community that has built us into the company we are today.

Q: Who is the woman behind the Onzie brand? How would you describe her? Who is she and how does your brand pay tribute to her?

A: On our Instagram there are hundreds of photographs of this woman—this woman that is dedicated to the practice, very dedicated to her workout and she is proud of her own health. The Onzie woman is all of these things; she is like a goddess. Our site shows her in so many forms, she is healthy and she is glowing in all of her beauty. With our product, we aspire to match that goddess concept—in both femininity and strength.

 

Q: Beauty in strength is also a hard-fought win. The Onzie woman has worked hard to evolve and to strengthen her form through meditation and stamina. In what ways has your business done the same?

A: In our organization, my mother, has been doing Bikram Yoga for now, 25-years. It all started with her. Bikram Yoga is done in a heated room of about 100 degrees. Back in the 90s, you worked out in a leotard. You sweat so much that you had to wear a one-piece garment and we started playing around with a mix of different colors for that initial piece—sort of like a onesie—a classic piece for practicing yoga was at the center of our design. We made a word play off of it and pronounced it OWN-zee, and all we were making was a leotard at the time—we liked how the word looked, and then it took off.

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Q: So, you set out to put an end to the plain black yoga wear?

A: Yeah, I guess we did. Four-years ago people were not doing color like this. There were no prints for yoga. It was subdued an pastel, calming and quiet. The Kundalini woman was soft, draped in white fabric. She was not letting her higher-self shine through. Today there are many other expressions of exercise and we wanted our line to really let the practice match the experience and all of that color brings.

 

 

 

Q: So, is it safe to assume that you all practice yoga. How have you utilized the principles of yoga practice in your own business?

A: Yes. We do. My staff here, they are all dedicated to their own workouts. The health and wellbeing of our minds is something we practice in our business as well. Our roots are in Bikram Yoga and hot yoga. Dedication, endurance, and determination are huge in our business. At its core—what makes it work— we are sometimes too dedicated—but we have really worked as a team to achieve our goals together and stay strong. We have a Rock star authenticity, All of us here, we are all determined to get that high that comes with doing something really well, and that helps us all to be focused.

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Q: How do you decide what to manufacture in your line? Who makes the decisions as to the growth and the look of your brand?

A: The Bikram Yogi was always a bit flashier, a bit more whimsy; we want that to be live in our brand. What’s the most important to us is that we are making a killer fabrication—the product is key—there are so many different products out there, we have stayed really true to our core— and for the price-point that is required for accessibility of our clothes. All of our decisions are made around that truth.

 

Q: You have celebrity interest in your designs—in the funky prints and ‘mod’ designs.  Even Lady Gaga wears Onzie. How did she find out about your clothing and come to take a selfie wearing one of your prints?

A: It is all, organic—it is through the yoga. She is actually an avid Bikram yogi and one of her teachers is connected to the brand and bought our stuff, and literally just rocked it in class. It was not just a PR thing. We don’t do anything like that. The clothing speaks for itself—it’s where a little bit of karma gets you, and a good product.

 

Q: Offer a bit of advice to aspiring designers here. What are the four things you can suggest to make a line a success?

A: I would say that they should have spirit; they need to know their customer well, and live the lifestyle to match their end user—and have some fun. It is also important to make your line accessible to people and an affordable part of their lives—make that a priority in your business and everything else around your commitment to your work will come natural.

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At Onzie, our philosophy is “keep your practice challenging, and your wardrobe simple!”

Indie Source makes premium apparel for clothing brands, then ensures those products make a big impact in the market. Learn more about how they support fashion brands with garment development, apparel manufacturing,  fashion sales and marketing at www.IndieSource.com  

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