No such feelings for us any more – Fashion Week – well I read a bit on-line and that is about as far as I need to go. No longer do we have to struggle onto a small plane going out of Cardiff to Paris – drag suitcases of clothes to the exhibition space only to find that the tent is flooded with 2 inches of the river Seine ‘no problem – it go away now’ – precious expensive dresses hooked up onto a rail – will the buyers think to bring wellies as for a Glastonbury Music Festival? Or there is a ‘manifestation’ and all the public transport is ceased up and crowds of French locals are looking menacing because they want this or that from their government. This creates fear in the buyers and they stay in their hotels or scurry around to the more private showrooms and place their budgets in the few ‘safe’ havens of established companies.
After a number of such bad experiences we decided to show in one of the grand hotels on the right bank where other designers had escaped. Here we sat in extreme comfort – again waiting just in case a buyer might come across us by mistake and sit down because they are shattered and actually look at some of the collection and marvel at the unique qualities – sometimes even placing a small order. Then the long wait again – do we wine and dine in the evenings and go to parties – absolutely not – there is nothing more exhausting than sitting around doing nothing. Our only indulgence was to stay an extra day to visit the lovely streets around the Rue de Seine, enjoy the galleries and then after lunch at a tiny restaurant just off Pont Neuf we would go to the garden centres and buy seeds – big fat packets of seeds that were not readily available in Monmouthshire.
Last year we thought we should try to re-establish some contacts again particularly with American shops. We decided to apply to show with one of the big groups in Paris. They requested that we send photographs, list of stores that we supply, press features etc. We were then turned down with them citing the fact that ‘we were not a designer collection’. My first reaction was a huge sense of rejection – then a few days later, having stamped around a bit and expressed my feelings in expletives that should not be written down – I decided that they were right. The term ‘designer collection’ has been taken over, hijacked, stolen – by the big corporations. These organisations establish a brand name (often not even related to an individual human being) and then they market it – get the goods produced in the Far East for pennies. They have the money to advertise big time, they can demand that shops restrict their margins, etc. etc. and the little people do not have a voice at all. The magazines feature big corporations because they will pay for advertising – they are controlled by finances rather than their own creative instincts.
This whole commercial takeover has meant that the small, individual designers like ourselves had no-where to go – UNTIL NOW.
NOW IS OUR TIME. The internet does not bow to big commerce – it is there for every designer, every individual can be there, in public, able to be heard, seen, appreciated, and most of all their creations purchased without endorsement either by the shop buyers or the doyennes of the press. Individuals with no axe to grind can write reviews, make suggestions, correct spelling mistakes – one to one. Isn’t that just so fantastic? Shops no longer control what the purchaser can buy – the customers have the entire world open to them – they can browse at home, in the middle of the night in their pyjamas – shop and not have to pay for car parking, struggle in poor weather. OH what heaven. AND the designers can compete for that attention whether they are whacky creative individuals who make half a dozen pieces a year, or have a small team like us of 6 people who create our collection. Yes six – with another 4 who work behind the scenes on the paperwork, keeping order and dealing with the complexities of the computer stuff.
So Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris, Milan or anywhere else in the world will see us by the seaside playing with the dog – watching the sun set and marvelling at the wonder of the world and this extraordinary technology that has created a NEW ORDER. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’ and we are here busy sharing that inheritance with you!
ARE WE JUST PLAYING – NO WE ARE BUSY CREATING A NEW ON-LINE SHOP: charlespatricialester.com
Thinking of London Fashion week
Another view towards New York