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When we speak about unsung heroes, we often refer to EMTs, teachers, or, in some cases, Grace Coddington. But for up-and-coming fashion stars, there is one particular New York management firm whose unique business platform is fostering new talent and helping them flourish. And if designers such as Tanya Taylor, Monique Péan, and Alison Lou sound familiar, then you probably want to thank Launch Collective, too.
Founded by Shira Sue Carmi in 2005, and soon afterward joined by Dan Otero and Rob Spira, Launch Collective works with fresh, innovative artists and helps them find a place in the business world. "In a lot of other industries, when you identify creative talent, you have this whole system around them of agents and managers to plug into so that they only do the creative and they don’t have to worry about money for the rest of their lives," Carmi explained to us. "For some reason, in fashion, that doesn’t exist…if you’re a designer and you want to start a line, you’re expected to know marketing and to know sales and to know production and to know all the different elements."
That's where these guys step in. Launch Collective manages, advises, and guides the business end of these major creative ventures, allowing designers to not only focus on, well, designing, but also learn how to eventually grow and self-sustain its brand and its own internal teams. After all, fashion is a business, and businesses need to make money to stay alive, which leads quite seamlessly into Launch Collective's next natural step.
Recently bringing on a director of sales, Anja Tyson, Launch Collective has officially opened The Collective, an in-house showroom that houses collections from its current clients, such as Creatures of Comfort, Lizzie Fortunato Leather, and the aforementioned Tanya Taylor and Alison Lou. While, as consumers, we don't generally get a peek at the behind-the-scenes dealings, for designers, editors, and buyers, having the opportunity to view a new collection and deal with all other business aspects under the same roof is a rare and unique opportunity. As Otero mentions, the introduction of The Collective responds to the "organic need" for this kind of space to exist. "The all-under-one-roof has been one of the biggest added values that we can provide to our client, simply out of the fact that there’s so much clear communication between different departments and divisions."
However, this happy love affair of creativity and business know-how — two things that are not mutually exclusive — can't last forever. "Great entrepreneurs always have to have that balance. They always have to have that sense of uncompromising creativity but also that sense [that] they’re not completely an artist working in a shed somewhere," Carmi says. "They are making a product that needs to be purchased by other people and needs to be part of a marketplace." Therefore, with the guidance of Launch Collective, once these brands have begun to blaze ahead, becoming a sufficient business in their own right, and grow in size, notoriety, and success, they venture off independently. Such examples already include Monique Péan and Kaelen — whose businesses now operate on their own.
With The Collective making it all the more efficient for these new designers to make their way to retailers, and, more importantly, our closets, this unique business is like the piece of the puzzle that the fashion industry may have not realized it was missing. Jump ahead to take a look at the newly renovated Launch Collective and The Collective showroom, and keep your eyes peeled for the next fresh set of designers that walk through its doors.
Photographed by Marco Pedde