Christian Siriano On The Importance Of Collaboration

PHoto: Meera Fox/Getty Images.
Christian Siriano is a designer who knows his way around a collaboration. In the past, he’s teamed up with such brands as Amazon, HSN, Lane Bryant, Spiegel, and Sam's Club. Now the designer adds J.Jill to his roster of collaborations. “J.Jill has never done a collaboration before,” Siriano tells Refinery29. “J.Jill makes very wearable easy clothes so I took the challenge. I was like okay, I want to push this customer into something a little bit new.” The pieces are as wearable and commercial as one would expect, yet glamorous in an elevated way, he assures us.
Sirinao specializes in making women feel beautiful. He revels in it, even. “I hate alienating customers,” he explains to Refinery29. “I hate hearing from people like oh, I can’t buy your clothes.” It's an important reminder to be inclusive. “I want people like my mom, like my sister, to be able to get something. I need all these different types of people to be able to buy these clothes.”
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One of the few designers that champions diversity, he finds the conversation around size inclusivity to be lacking. “People are still not [designing size inclusive clothing] and it’s so annoying,” he continues. “I’m like let’s make it so that it’s not a conversation. Let’s just do it. I want a drop-down window [when shopping online] to say 2 to 28, it doesn’t need to be a thing. That’s what I am trying to hopefully push into the world.”
He's for sure pushing that sort of inclusivity with his J.Jill collection. Siriano asked a lot of questions leading into the designer process, down to if the customer would cinch her waist or wear sleeveless styles. “Obviously, there are pieces that will push the customer out of their comfort zone, like a metallic turquoise cinched red coat that they may never wear that but, it's like let’s try. It’s about the balance which is always the risk that you take but we hope for the best.”
Another way that Siriano gauges what pieces will do well is to show his mother and sister what he is working on. “My mom is 72 and my sister is 36 and I send them photos and they like the same things,” he says. “That’s really interesting to me. Women who are older, their taste didn’t go away, it’s like okay, maybe you want to cover your arms because you’re self-conscious but you still love the same things. I’ve always thought that was really cool about fashion.” That's what makes his J.Jill collaboration so rewarding.
“When it comes to choosing collaborations, when I say no, it’s not about I don’t want to dress someone, it’s really about the money,” he explains. “It’s so expensive to make custom dresses and ship them around the world. And sometimes we don’t even get a thank you so I now only work with people who are supportive. When stylist Law Roach reaches out to get a dress in a day for Ariana, I know he’s going to actually put her in it. It’s not just sitting on a rack in a corner. So that’s when it’s worth it. I’ve tried to work hard at making sure that collaboration is key.”
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