“The day of the star designer is over,” said the creator of women’s brand Ask Alice, which debuted in the U.S. during FFANY last week. “You have to be one of the people. Designers can be full of themselves, and I try not to be that way.”
But Mang is certainly no stranger to the power of big names in the fashion world. When he launched his own, eponymous limited-edition collection in 2004, it quickly landed on the feet of Sheryl Crow, Kate Bosworth and Christina Applegate. That line, however, lasted for three seasons.
Celebrity outreach will also play a role in promoting Ask Alice, which will retail for $200 to $500 (retail accounts are yet to be confirmed). “I still believe that celebrity and fashion editorial in the U.S. is the most important [marketing tool],” he said. “The one commodity we have that really no one else in the world does as well is fame, because of Hollywood.”
Mang spoke with Footwear News about his market predictions and why the U.S. economy can weather the storm.
1. Why did you launch Ask Alice in Asia before bringing the brand to the U.S.?
GM: The market is on fire in Asia. China has an explosive economy with an emerging luxury market. I intend to relaunch my own brand [George Mang] there very soon. I see the Middle East [as another target]. It’s an important market and it has a healthy economy. We are also hiring someone in Milan to cover Europe.
2. Do you feel confident about the U.S. market heading into spring?
GM: You hear a lot of gloom and doom, but the U.S. market is not a [single] market; it’s made up of a lot of little markets. You have suburban markets, and you have [smaller cities] like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta that are fantastic shoe markets. Obviously, New York is the fashion capital, but where a lot of product is really sold is in places like Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta. I feel optimistic about the economy. It is going to be a little bumpy for a while, but one thing I do know, having been a buyer for many years, is that buyers are looking to expand and try something new.
3. Are consumers looking for something different, too?
GM: One great thing that has happened in the last three or four years is that the American woman shops upmarket, but she buys budget pieces as well. She’s mixing it all together now, and that didn’t used to be the case. Nobody dresses head-to-toe anymore.