Your bags have been likened to “hidden gems.” As a designer, you must see the importance in branding yourself. Are department stores even desirable at this point? Do you see value in being boutique, catering to a select clientele without an overlarge commitment?
You know, it does work for me. Because my bags are one-of-a-kind, maybe I would start making 10 of the same instead of 1. My clients will still feel the exclusivity of the product; my bags will never be in every household. Large stores were confused with my process initially but reactions have been different.
You can’t deny that it will be extremely difficult for department stores to convert their business model. In the end, won’t they need to compartmentalize, to become boutiques themselves to accommodate designers with constantly changing inventory?
Yes, I think so. Growth as a designer really needs to be based upon demand, rather than perceived demand. I didn’t sell to stores until I sold to private clients first. Designers are getting burnt out, and I find myself asking “What are you really inspired by?” It is my fantasy to have designers creating new things all of the time, to see new things every week. Other industries have done it; for example, computer companies. Computers are created according to demand; it’s a completely commoditized industry.
What do you hope to achieve with Paige Gamble atelier in 5 years? For that matter, where do you think New York fashion will be?
You know, I can never predict what women like. My box clutch, a rather small, awkward shape with little interior accommodation, is flying off the shelves. People don’t want to carry too much in their evening purses these days. I’m always learning.
Are we moving into the era of the couture designer? Are people deserting large fashion houses in search of a more unique and individual fashion experience?
I hate to say that the successes of boutique designers depend on the failure of large fashion houses; it’s not a zero sum. Buyers are more conservative and taking a new line is considered very risky these days. Globalization, and the rise of the internet, has given many people access to information they may not have had 20 years ago. I think this is all happening at the same time; people are just changing their business models. I think that the opportunity to work collaboratively with an incredible brand, to reach out to their client base and to make something unique, is the perfect form of creative cross-pollination. For the first time, designers are asking the question “how can we help each other?” This frankly wasn’t the case 2 years ago.
More information about Page can be found on her website paigegamble.com
We’d also like to thank Kittichai, at 60 Thompson St for their wonderful hospitality and brilliant mouth watering food.