This Site Stocks Indie Designers That Aren't All Over Your Instagram Feed (Yet)
We're always on the prowl for cool new designers that all of our friends, street style favorites, or social media follows aren't already clued into (and decked out in) already. Enter Plan de Ville, a sleekly-designed online destination founded in 2014 devoted to emerging designers, many of whom are only in their first or second seasons.
Prior to launching Plan de Ville, founder and CEO Catherine Smith was a stylist and online fashion writer covering the intersection of ready-to-wear and bridal fashion at Brides; she also did a master's degree in Fashion Studies from Parsons, focused on the psychology of the luxury consumer and high fashion’s interaction with the mind. She's now applying those insights, minus the wedding dress-chronicling aspect, to an e-comm experience that's focused squarely on fresh discoveries and championing up-and-coming contemporary names soon to crop up on a bevy of red carpets, social media tags, and, maybe, in your closet. (Granted, yes, these labels probably do fall into splurge territory.)
Below, Smith fills us in on how she sources cool indie brands, and even match-makes them with other, much larger retailers. Click through to find out the eight brands that likely aren't in your closet yet.
What prompted you to launch the site? "I decided to launch Plan de Ville because Instagram created a tremendous amount of access both for consumers and for designers to reach each other – yet no singular online shopping destination existed with the sole purpose of stocking luxury brands in their early seasons. From its inception, Instagram has allowed designers to go to market and set the rules of engagement – from how much inventory they produce, to how they choose to sell and price their lines. It has really changed the game of launching a label, and Plan de Ville was created to solve the problem of providing a high-end customer service experience on behalf of the emerging brands that have inspired a new coterie of excited consumers."
Tell us about your sourcing strategies! "They range from Instagram discoveries to stopping a woman on the street carrying a great bag that I can’t place, to my favorite, trade shows. I also love paying attention to when celebrities occasionally wear an emerging brand; I’ll reach out to the stylist to learn more about the label.
"I've found some of our strongest-performing labels at trade shows, like Tosia and Voz. It's also a tremendous honor when brands reach out to invite me to see their line. For the first year or so, I pitched PDV to 99% of the designers we picked up. Once we gained some traction, that dynamic really started to shift and I found my inbox suddenly full of incredible look books and personal notes from designers I could only dream of working with previously."
How have you connected emerging talents with bigger retailers and served as a consultant of sorts? "When it makes sense, Plan de Ville partners with brands to offer help with prodct development and distribution strategy in the U.S. My dear friend Lilian Afshar is the first designer I partnered with on this initiative, and we now handle the distribution of her line of architectural marble box clutches in the States. In the past year, we were able to do three trunk shows on Moda Operandi, a pop up at Bergdorf Goodman, and we just opened her distribution to one of the most prestigious specialty boutiques in the U.S. for next season. We are not a showroom, but because I gather early sales data and have insight into best-selling styles by testing the product in the e-commerce marketplace, we are in a position to offer brand intelligence to other retailers."
What portion of designers are from outside of the U.S.? "Almost half of the brands on Plan de Ville are from abroad, and it's so important to me to reflect the diversity of talent around the world. Plan de Ville carries brands from the Middle East, England, South Korea, Ukraine, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Our buys are always very tightly focused, and things sell out quickly, though I do prioritize offering unique brands that are under-represented in the States. Instagram has increased the ability for designers and consumers to interact directly, but there are still significant barriers to creating a seamless shopping experience across borders. We have navigated the importing business carefully."
What's significant about being a designer's first stockist? "It's an honor; for a designer, especially in the digital age, distribution strategy is paramount. So a brand’s choice to be sold on Plan de Ville for their first or second season is a major decision that can potentially impact which other retailers will be interested in the line. I hope, and our track record has shown, that this impact is positive."
Plan De Ville New Indie Clothing Brands Summer 2017