Badgley Mischka’s James Mischka on the state of the luxury market — and what he won’t spend money on
Mark Badgley and James Mischka launched their luxury fashion label in 1988. Since then, their garments have been sold in high-end retailers like Nordstrom Inc. JWN, +0.09% Saks Fifth Avenue HBC, -0.25% Neiman Marcus and at their own boutiques.
Their clothing, which ranges from gowns that make a “grand gesture” with bows and beads to more understated or casual looks, have also appeared on the red carpet, worn by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez.
In 1993, another high-end brand, Escada, became Badgley Mischka’s parent company. The label was then sold to Iconix Brand Group Inc. ICON, -25.29% in 2004, and Iconix sold the rights back to the designers, Titan Industries and MJCLK LLC, the brand licensee, in March 2016 for $16 million.
Iconix said it made the move because “the time and resources required to properly support it are not in line with the rest of the Iconix portfolio.”
Now the duo, who were married in 2013, is celebrating the brand’s 30th anniversary, recently launched a new fragrance, and participated in New York Fashion Week in February.
James Mischka spoke with MarketWatch about the brand’s latest collection, the influence of athleisure on luxury apparel, and what he simply won’t pay for.
MarketWatch: How was the most recent New York Fashion Week show different from years past?
Mischka: This season we were inspired by postwar glamour, by people coming back from the war and having an idea of optimism and wanting to feel protected as well. That was our entire theme for the show.
Our last spring show was extremely fanciful. Our 30th anniversary show was a sort of Alice in Wonderland, sort of magical and a fairy tale. This is much more coming back to real life. That season sold very well, but as a fashion designer, you have to anticipate what’s going to happen a year out. People want to have their clothes make them feel stronger for fall.
MarketWatch: How would you describe the state of the luxury consumer?
Mischka: I think the luxury market is still very strong. As opposed to two years ago, people are buying more clothes, buying more luxurious things, maybe treating themselves after trying to figure out what was going on with the economy and with politics. There was kind of a wait-and-see attitude two years ago. Last year was probably our best year in business ever.
MarketWatch: These days, what do you think is the definition of luxury?
Mischka: Traditional luxury, which is what Badgley Mischka is about, is always going to be there. It’s what people are always going to want. There’s another version of luxury, streetwear luxury, which is fantastic as well.
We’ve always wanted it to be really easy to get glamorous; one zipper, you’re dressed.
As technology has advanced and people’s requirements for their clothes have advanced, we have incorporated that. Every fabric in our collection is stretch no matter how traditional it looks, which is important for comfort and ease of wearing.
That’s where athleisure has evolved into luxury clothes. It’s informed our clothes and made us smarter about how to dress our customers.
MarketWatch: China is critical to the luxury market. What is the biggest difference between the Chinese consumer and the luxury customer in the U.S. and Europe?
Mischka: The Chinese customer is more focused on brands. In America, it’s about finding the new things, the things that aren’t logo-ed, aren’t as in your face. In China, they’re wanting the more identifiable brands.
We don’t put logos on our clothes. Even though we’re a 30-year-old company, people are still discovering Badgley Mischka because they haven’t worn it before. We mostly sell accessories in China and when we do sell clothes, it tends to be the more over-the-top pieces, the more sequined and more beaded. We sell daywear as well. So there’s two different versions of the luxury customer in China.
MarketWatch: What has been the most dramatic change in fashion since you launched in 1988?
Mischka: Just how fast everything moves now. Back when we started, there were only like three voices in fashion at the time; a couple of magazines with influential editors. For us, there were four stores that mattered. Now there are so many points of distribution, so many ways to sell clothes.
There are thousands of points of view that you hear about fashion. You can have a blog or tweet an opinion and you don’t know if that tweet is coming from the editor of the most powerful magazine in the world or someone in a suburb somewhere. A tweet looks like a tweet and they all have the same impact.
MarketWatch: What’s the last great thing you purchased?
Mischka: Probably a horse for Mark [Badgley]. This one is McKinley. We’ve got several. He’s an equestrian.
Don’t miss: Old Navy and Athleta get their chance to shine with Gap split
MarketWatch: What are you a cheapskate about?
Mischka: I’m actually picky about shipping charges on online purchases. And I’ll change my purchase based on the shipping.
MarketWatch: Do you plan to retire?
Mischka: I don’t plan to retire. I know I will some day, it’s something to dream about, but it’s more for the future.
Want news about Asia delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to MarketWatch's free Asia Daily newsletter. Sign up here.
Source: Read Full Article