Surviving Fashion’s Summer From Hell - 2 minutes read

The new (mostly printless) Tibi was harder to categorize. It didn’t help that the brand had never been embraced by the fashion guard, which Ms. Smilovic has often attributed to fashion’s warped gender dynamics. In a business dominated by women, she said, there aren’t very many women designers at the top, and even fewer praised in the pages of Vogue.

“If you were a woman, it seems you either have to be a socialite — Rosetta Getty, Gabriela Hearst, Tory Burch, with a serious last name — or maybe a movie star,” she said. “I don’t say that to take away from the Olsens. I really like the Row. But are any of the top male designers in America socialites or movie stars? No, they all kind of made it on their own.”

One unforeseen consequence of the pandemic is that Tibi has been freed from some of its more toxic wholesale relationships, like with stores that ghosted on payments, or with companies that proposed paying the they money owed via payment plans as long as one year. (Ms. Smilovic said no.)

And don’t get her started on “exclusive styles,” which is when a store requests tweaks to existing items, like a skirt with a shorter hem. Sometimes the end result wouldn’t look like Tibi at all. Ms. Smilovic gritted her teeth and made them anyway.

“I would take the money, but it would tug at me,” she said.

Not anymore. When orders like those are produced and then canceled, it doesn’t mean just a potential six-figure loss. It means being stuck with clothing she didn’t like and didn’t want to sell on her own site — not after working so hard to refine Tibi’s aesthetic.

“It turns into this weird David and Goliath situation, where the stores are really just threatening the solvency of your business,” she said.

Source: New York Times

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