“How do you take that beautiful sculpture and create it so it’s commercial?” Don Howard, Executive Director at Alvanon, the global apparel business experts specializing in fit for a range of companies was referencing the garments of their newest mentee, New York-based designer Rosie Assoulin during our interview about their mentorship program.
Assoulin is already an industry favorite for her American sportswear with a devout consumer following. She launched in 2014 and is just getting started. The brand has distribution in top international stockists such as Bergdorf Goodman, Moda Operandi and Kirna Zabete, and was recipient of the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear and the New York Fashion Production Fund in 2015.
With no formal training and learning through what she calls “osmosis” at the top studios in Paris and New York, she has quickly shown an incredible penchant for creating fantastical silhouettes that are nowhere shy of fluidity, artfully exposing the body and striking color. For the brand’s resort and spring 2016 collections, petals and geometric cutouts captivate the eye, flares dominate and appear to get larger each season while shoulders are blessed with attention; asymmetry, exaggerated cascades and delicate straps all set the stage for harmonious layering.
Alvanon’s Dr. Kenneth Wang Mentorship Program
Selecting Rosie and Max Assoulin, her husband who manages the business, was a natural fit for the two year program. Last fall, Alvanon’s CEO Janice Wang announced the news.
“Rosie is a perfect candidate for our Mentorship Program. She has been in business for just over two years and is already an accomplished, inspired and professional designer.
An equally important part of Rosie’s attractiveness to Alvanon is the strength of her business team, led by husband Max. No designer can work without effective support. Max brings vast business knowledge to the Rosie Assoulin brand. They work together, one creative, one business, two brilliant sides of the fashion coin.” – Janice Wang, Alvanon.
Working closely with Alvanon, the program will enhance the brand’s strength and business competence with statistical sizing data, technical design tools and training in key areas, including production, supply chain, fit, marketing and sales.
The comprehensive curriculum will be invaluable for Assoulin. Howard stressed the importance of fit, calling poor fit “unforgivable” and the one detail that failed designers and brands wish they would have paid more attention to in hindsight.
Optimizing Assoulin’s Brand
When discussing their baseline with fit, Assoulin stressed that as an emerging designer, it was first about creating an aesthetic vision for the brand and when seeing the garments on a model, the next question became how will they translate to the customer. Realizing the opportunity to hone in on this area of the business aligned with Alvanon.
Already working together for a quarter of the program, Assoulin said it already feels like a family which is very relatable and important for the two. Howard explained that it’s about helping maximize what they are already doing to make the business more efficient.
To do this, the process began with understanding where they are in the business cycle and looking at the fundamentals including core sizing, how many sizes are needed to cover their customer range along with what intervals should those sizes be in. A testament to their success thus far, little needed to be refined.
What lies ahead is taking Assoulin’s aesthetic point-of-view which is grounded in an emotional connection, one that makes her woman feel something towards clothes and combining it with technical insight. Together, it’s what Howard calls art and science on steroids.”
“Having a woman feel comfortable in what she is wearing is our highest priority and that is why fit is so important to us. We want to keep making clothes that women love and can rely on. We are excited to continue to perfect our fit while working with Alvanon for the new FW16 collection!” – Rosie Assoulin
Alvanon’s Pillars of Success
Howard defines three pillars of success for designers with the first being aligned on who your customer is, which they already know. The second is engagement which is already happening and the next component and opportunity for the brand is innovation which involves being aligned internally and taking a risk with their customer to create something stronger.
For Assoulin, a combination of design, business sense and thoughtful attention to fit will continue to make her label even more admired. And, working with Alvanon, an industry resource that continues to graciously give back, it’s a win for both.
Photo credit: Sophie Holland
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