HOW QUITTING FASHION WEEK HELPED NOMIA'S YARA FLINN GROW HER BUSINESS

Categories:Fashion

Yara Flinn. Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Getty ImagesYara Flinn.

In our long-running series, "How I'm Making It," we talk to people making a living in the fashion industry about how they broke in and found success.

Despite describing herself as a very cautious person, New York designer Yara Flinn's career is marked by major risk-taking. When she didn't get into graduate school for sculpture, Flinn took it as a sign to follow her interest in fashion design and launch Nomia in 2007. More than five years later, when she felt her business was stagnating and her designs weren't true to the kind of simple but distinctive style she initially set out to create, she quit fashion week, left her showroom and PR agency and went back to the drawing board. The resulting collection was her most successful to date, and Flinn has been growing that momentum ever since. After finishing the 2014-2016 CFDA Fashion Incubator program this spring, she moved back to her Williamsburg studio to focus on her dedicated customers and building her advanced contemporary collection of sleek, slightly architectural pieces that are now carried by Barneys, Totokaelo, Mohawk General Store, French Garment Cleaners and many more specialty boutiques. 

I spoke with Flinn about selling her first collection, navigating the business during the financial crisis and learning to trust her gut. Read on for our conversation. 

What did you study in college and when did your interest in fashion begin?

When I was at Oberlin, I was studying Studio Art, so I was doing sculpture and sound and video installations. I used to customize men's shirts and stuff, nothing huge, and then I did an art installation that [featured] fashion. It was a cool video thing. It was clothing but it was more meant to be art. So that was my experience with fashion before then. And then when I graduated I got a job at Prada’s art foundation [in New York].

How did you get that job and what did you do there?

I speak Italian, so that was a really big help and then my stepmother's friend had the job and she was leaving it, so I interviewed for it — which obviously was very helpful, to have that connection — but I thought I had no shot at it.

The Nomia fall 2016 collection. Photo: NomiaThe Nomia fall 2016 collection.

Did you want to be a curator at that point?

No, I knew that I always wanted to make things. I wanted to apply for a master's program, in sculpture mostly. And I ended up applying to three places and I didn't get into any of them. It was obviously very disappointing at the time, but it was also so fundamental for me to even end up taking this risk because I really thought my path was one direction. I've always really been into fashion and I've always been specifically more into style and the way that clothing and dress communicate to society. I wrote my high school thesis on the sociology of fashion.

What did you do after the Prada Foundation closed its New York office in 2006?

I worked at different retail jobs part-time and then I started making my first collection, literally three pieces, and that's when the this whole story aboutPamela Love happened. I know her through an old friend who worked atUrban Outfitters with her in 2005, so we're all friends. She had started working at Barneys and I made one linen sack dress thing and she said, "I want to wear that dress to a meeting." So she wore it to the meeting and she looked so cool in it, even though it was literally cut raw seamed at the bottom, when it wasn't cool to do that. They said, "Who makes that dress?" She basically helped me set up an appointment with them. I had to make a few other pieces last minute, but it was at a time when Barneys had a very different kind of way of buying. It was item driven, so they'd buy pieces.

At that point it was 2007, it was a totally different time. I sold dresses from pictures that I took on a digital camera because camera phones were that bad, and I would email them to buyers and they would buy it. It was crazy, I got into Totokaelo’s first store and I sent her pictures and there was another store called Jonathan & Olivia in Vancouver. There were way fewer brands. I had interned at United Bamboo for a bit also, which was something that really helped me. Once I decided I wanted to do fashion in 2006, I took pattern-making classes, which were amazing and super hard and technical. I'm pretty much still making all the patterns.

How did the recession impact your business?

[Before 2008] I went in for another appointment with Barneys and [they said], "We're not buying this season." I was too young to even know what the conversation should be, I didn't know that I should be following up with them all the time: "How is it going? Is it selling? Can I help with things?" But it made me start working harder to get other accounts, which is great. I don't know how many I was selling to when 2008 happened, but that was a crash, almost. A lot pulled out, some went out of business and some hung out for another year or two but eventually went out of business.

The Nomia fall 2016 collection. Photo: NomiaThe Nomia fall 2016 collection. 

Between dedicating yourself full time to the brand in 2011 and joining the Incubator in 2014, what happened?

That was a lot of struggling. I think that was a time when I had lost myself. We had PR people, we had sales showrooms and everyone was telling us different things. We did Made [Fashion Week], which was awesome, and it was very reasonably priced, they offer a lot, and we would always get hair and makeup sponsors. But it does still cost quite a bit even if you do it at a shoelace budget, like we literally were. But it's a significant cost [with] no return — I didn't feel like I was getting huge press from it and whatever press I got didn't seem like it was impacting my sales much. There became a very one-lane approach to how to make it as a young designer.

I wasn't wearing anything that I was making and that, to me, was a problem. Eventually a friend-slash-mentor told me, 'You know, you're cool, you're from New York, you dress like this, why are you making these clothes?’ He felt like I was fighting what I could be doing. I worried too much about how the run of show is going to look, and I'm just like — this isn't what my brands, that's not what I want, I want easy clothes, I want everyday clothes, I want statement pieces that people are going to wear all the time.

You decided to stop doing shows?

Fall 2013 was when I stopped doing any presentations... At that point I was depressed, it really had gotten to me, because it's emotional and it's personal. You're putting your ideas out there, they're not working. So I [decided] I'll just try [designing for myself], and then I ended up having probably one of the best seasons I've had to date at the point, in terms of sales. and I [thought], "Whoa this is crazy." Without having done a show and just reaching out to buyers myself.

Why did you apply to the CFDA Fashion Incubator program?

I've never had a business plan, I've never had to be all about my margins and my costing sheets. I had been "in business" very loosely for five years at that point and [I thought if] I can't survive this, I've got to figure something out, this is not sustainable. Then I had the issue of [paying] rent for the [CFDA Incubator] studio. They're subsidized but it was more than twice what I was paying for my studio [before]. I'm just overly cautious, I didn't realize it was an investment and it was something that we would be able to eventually pay for it if I was able to implement the advice that they would be giving me. I borrowed a little money from my parents until I could catch up.

Who is your team at Nomia?

I started with a consultant basically to help me with production and that was 2014, right when I got started going to the Incubator. That's a thing that a lot of young designers struggle with because when your units are the smallest, you get pushed to the back of the line. It's tough, you have to get in there really early and you have to establish a really good relationship with the factory. Who I have right now is our production manager and then the other person is our studio manager, basically a catch-all thing — sending our e-commerce out and organizing our shipping and doing the press pulls.

What are your goals for the next year?

I want to increase our reach on PR, our awareness. I want to do events: having an open studio maybe, things where people can come in and look at things in person. I, myself, am a very tactile shopper.

I really enjoy collaborating with people, that's something I feel I've been missing out a little bit on, so hopefully if we hire more people I'll be able to put into place all those things. Because otherwise, they're just ideas. 

Tags: bag Alexander Wang New Bucket

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MOYNAT REJANE BAG

Categories:Other Brands

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It’s always a great thing to be ahead of the curve. For those that haven’t met the Moynat brand yet – please meet the oldest french trunk-maker (even older than the famous Louis Vuitton brand).

Moynat might not have walked the same path as Louis Vuitton, but do know that the LVMH Ceo, Bernard Arnault, has bought this brand through his holding company in 2011 and have re-launched it in 2011.

So now that the prices for the Moynat Bags are still reasonable and affordable, you might want to shop a few of them. Starting with the most famous bag – the Moynat Rejane Bag.

Like any classic bags, the Moynat Rejane Bag is a structured city bag and perfect to use as an everyday accessory. The design is minimalistic, but you will love that because it can easily adapt to your outfit. Also, the design is made to carry in all seasons and it can be worn at work as well as the weekends.

The shape is quite unique – it’s boxy but then its not, the top is made slightly curvy. Then the bag can be carried in several ways; there is a leather handle to carry by hand and it comes with a long leather strap for shoulder carry.

The Moynat Rejane Bag comes in three sizes; the medium, petite and mini sizes. Here are the details:

Moynat Mini Rejane Bag in Taurillon leather
Size: 20 x 8 x 15 cm
Price: $4070 USD

Moynat Petit Rejane Bag in Taurillon leather
Size: 26 x 10 x 18.5 cm
Price: $4570 USD or €3400 euro

Moynat Rejane Bag in Taurillon leather
Size: 30 x 14 x 20.5 cm
Price: €3700 euro

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Tags: bag Valentino Alexander Wang And Pre-Fall FROM More 2016 We’ve Already Spotted Pre-Orders

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BALENCIAGA MINI CITY BELHARRA BAG

Categories:Other Brands

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At Bragmybag we not only talk about the latest releases and collections, but we also do like to point out the newest handbags that stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s a classic or a contemporary bag, we love all of them.

Just like this new Balenciaga Mini City Belharra bag. The Mini City is the smaller version of the popular Classic City Bag and is already well known in the fashion world. But have you ever spotted the newest style called ‘Belharra’?

The brand name is printed proudly on the front with the famous France city ‘Paris’, you can’t say no to that right? Made from canvas, which is trimmed, with rosy pink calf leather. And on the top of that, it’s refined with shiny silver hardware, which adds a luxe note to this playful piece.

Because it’s partly made from canvas, the experience is totally different. But as a fashion obsessed, you’re obligated to add some different mixes in your wardrobe and perhaps this beauty is qualified for it.

The color is perfect for this season and because it comes with an adjustable, detachable shoulder strap, things can’t get better. Carry it on your shoulder or grab the handles. The exterior features a zipped pocket and the interior is made with a zipped and slot pockets.

Measuring 6.5’ x 9’ x 4’ (H x W x D) inches, priced at $1085 USD or €925 euro via MyTheresa.

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Tags: bag Alexander Wang ATTICA

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Alexander Wang Mini Lia Shoulder

Categories:Other Brands

If small is beautiful then this Mini Lia Shoulder from Alexander Wang certainly fits the bill. Measuring a wee 17 cm across by 15 cm in height, this is as small as it gets with this American label. Available in Blush which just ups the ante fivefold when it comes to the cute factor, you can get it now via Net-A-Porter for GBP530, or aroundSGD1100 after conversion.

And while you’re deciding if you should get it in Blush or in Black (yes, that’s also another available colour you can’t ever go wrong with), don’t forget to check out the last legs of Net-A-Porter’s clearance sale that’s now up to 80% off. Really. 

Tags: Alexander Wang Mini Shoulder Lia

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Alexander Wang Launches a Jewelry Line

Categories:Jewelry & Watches

It seems that many designers have begun shaking up their strategies and adding to their product lines these days, seeing the holiday season and the whole gift-giving traditions as the perfect moment to launch new ideas. Alexander Wang is among these designers, who finds himself opting to start a new line right before the Christmas frenzy. Then again, it was a long time coming as the man has come up with designs for lighter cases, “do not disturb” signs, bottle openers, travel neck pillows and canteens, so Alexander Wang jewelry only makes sense after all of that.

Alexander Wang Jewelry Line

Why on earth had he not launched jewelry before though? “I always wanted to do jewelry, but I never felt like I had the opportunity. I’ve had my hands quite full,” Wang mentioned in one particular interview. “But I really got exposed to it when I went to Balenciaga and I really enjoyed the process.” Better late than never though, right? After all, a designer needs to feel comfortable with a concept first, before embarking on a journey to make it a reality.

Wang is known for his chunky pieces. As such, it makes perfect sense that his small collection of three pieces is all about the chunky, with bike chain earrings and a necklace featuring a lock in the middle. There is also a lock cuff, and these three were shown off for the spring collection. He has increased the number of pieces in thecollection for the pre-fall line as well.

Wang’s previous collaborations for jewelry included those with Gaia Repossi and Betony Vernon. However, at that point, it was him submitting ideas and they handling the rest. At Balenciaga, it was the opposite, with Wang himself having taken over everything from the initial sketches of the ideas to the final production of the jewelry pieces, also having major say in the prices each was listed at. “I really got a hand on it in Paris,” he said. “We were really successful with the jewelry that I did [at Balenciaga].”

At the moment, the Alexander Wang jewelry pieces we see are just a natural extension to the collections he puts out, with the tough looking chic hardware and the intricate details that are forever Wang. It is all produced in Italy, the chain pieces plated with brass palladium, while it is 24-karat gold we notice on the locks that appear. For now, we know that the earrings cost $295, while the prices can range up to $525, as is the case with the double lock necklace.

We know that this will definitely attract a good number of people who are more than willing to give the gift of Alexander Wang jewelry in the coming year for all manner of occasions. First though, we expect Christmas shopping and from Alexander Wang stores to double or triple in the coming days as the collection launches mid-December.

Tags: jewelry Alexander Wang Launches

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ALEXANDER WANG PRISMA ENVELOPE SLING BAG

Categories:Other Brands

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Alexander Wang Prisma Envelope Sling Bag in Oxblood with Rhodium
Size: 8.5’ x 6’ x 3’ (L x H x W)
Price: $1246 USD or €820 EUR via MyTheresa

We’ve prepared something different for you today, ladies! From Alexander Wang comes the Prisma Envelope Sling Bag, an all-around piece that you’ll surely want to wear everyday. And we’re just about to show you why you have to get this latest ‘it’-piece.

Compact and boxy, this seemingly small prisma envelope sling ain’t your ordinary crossbody – it has an adjustable strap, signature rhodium dogclips and magnetic closure, which keeps all of your personal effects in there. It even comes with a hidden slip pocket on the back exterior, two flat compartments with zipped divider pocket and a main compartment that’s large enough to fit all of your essentials. Truly, no one does it like Alexander Wang.

Choose from an array of colors and designs to choose from (Cult, Embossed Timber, and Oxblood). You can get your very own Prisma Envelope Sling Bag via Alexander Wang and MyTheresa.

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Alexander Wang Prisma Envelope Sling Bag in Cult with Rhodium
Size: 8.5’ x 6’ x 3’ (L x H x W)
Price: $750 USD, €820 EUR

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Alexander Wang Prisma Envelope Sling Bag in Embossed Timber with Rhodium
Size: 8.5’ x 6’ x 3’ (L x H x W)
Price: $750 USD, €820 EUR

Tags: bag Alexander Wang Prisma ENVELOPE SLING

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