Young Design Talent: Is their Future at Risk? Atom Cianfarani of NYC's Gaelyn and Cianfarani Reveals that Independent Designer Cooperatives Are Fighting Back Against Financial Barriers & Mass Chains - WEEKLY FASHIONTRIBES FASHION PODCAST - MP3 File
Yes, it's oh-so-chic to claim we all shop at little out-of-the-way shops and small boutiques. But how many of us actually do...especially more than once in a while? If we did, the fashion landscape wouldn't be dominated by fashion mega-chains and monoliths.
For a recent feature in Fashiontribes - Attack of the Style Clones: In a World Dominated by Chain Stores and Cookie Cutter Fashion, Designer Atom Cianfarani of Gaelyn and Cianfarani Worries About the Fate of Young Designers - I interviewed Atom Cianfarani of NYC design duo Gaelyn and Cianfarani, , www.gaelynandcianfarani.com (pronounced Chan-far-ANN-ee), latex couturiers whose clients include Bjork, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Britney Spears, and Steven Meisel and Italian Vogue.
Yes, the prices and selection are attractive at the mega-chains, but the problem is the fate of young design talent. According to Cianfarani, conventional fashion industry wisdom says it takes millions of dollars in sales to even attract financial backing. "To say that until you make $35 million you can't get an investor or financial help sounds ridiculous, but that's what's happening to fashion. We're a somewhat successful company, but we don't even come close. What does that mean for us as young designers?"
Another problem is the lack of support for young design talent from the fashion industry itself. Fresh talent is often hired away by well-known designers before they ever get a chance to develop their voice. "Supporting young designers doens't mean hiring someone to be your assistant. It means keeping an eye out and seeing the Gaelyn and Cianfaranis, or someone like Zac Posen, who is amazing and is becoming more successful." Cianfarani is of the mind that if the Donna Karans and Marc Jacobs of the world consider themselves artists rather than just business people, they need to prove it by supporting young talent.
In the case of Gaelyn and Cianfarani, they teamed up with nine other small, independent designers and opened a designer cooperative Wear NYC, www.wearnyc.com. By splitting the costs and the workload, they are jointly able to afford showroom and retail space that would otherwise not be an option. "We collectively work together. Everyone has a list of jobs to do. These types of collectives are going to be more and more common. I definitely think it's the future of young designer fashion."
So while designers do their part by keeping their voice heard on the fashion landscape, we - as consumers - need to do our part by buying from smaller designers. (Besides, it means you'll never run into your fashion clone!) "If you want to see young designers develop, it's just really important to come on down and support them. We're here in the East Village, this is our art, and we need support."