On Thursday, Tamara Mellon took part in a panel at Fashion Tech Forum’s Creating the Future summit. Moderator Christene Barberich of Refinery 29 had no trouble getting Mellon to speak out on everything from her ongoing legal battles and contentious relationship with Jimmy Choo to her recent financial struggles and efforts to rebuild her brand as a direct-to-consumer business.
Here are the five most interesting statements the CEO made on her former company and moving forward with her eponymous label.
1. “After I sold Jimmy Choo, I really thought about what is the future of the business. I realized that no one will ever build a billion-dollar brand like that again. I had a noncompete year, which gave me time to think. I talked to a lot of women about the psychology of shopping and their behavior. What I saw coming was the writing on the wall — we needed to change the system. I tried to do a buy-now, wear-now model three years ago because I believed the customer was there, and I still do. But the industry wasn’t there yet.”
2. “I tried to put buy-now, wear-now through a wholesale distribution channel, and it just didn’t work. I had a lot of pushback. Retailers said things to me like, ‘How are you going to have cashmere on the floor in January-February when everyone else has spring and summer product?’ Also, I tried to shorten the gap between showing and delivering. Unfortunately, I got pushback from the conventional fashion calendar.”
3. “What I learned is that you need critical mass in order to affect change. You can’t be the only person standing there trying to do something.”
4. “I ended up putting my company through a reorganization for two reasons. The first reason, which is public, is that Jimmy Choo boycotted me from my supply change after my noncompete ran out, which is obviously very damaging. (Jimmy Choo has responded to these allegations by telling FN, “This case is without merit and will be vigorously contested.”) The culmination was I just said, ‘Screw this. I’m going to blow up my own house and press the reset button.’ It was really good because now I think I have a business model [that] is set up for the next 20 years.”
5. “I have no collections now. I don’t believe in collections anymore. Designing large collections and trying to make women buy them in the wrong season, months before they will even wear it, doesn’t work anymore. Women want to buy something today and wear it tomorrow. We know that now. The idea was to abolish seasons and have a timeless core on our site each year. Then we will continually release very fashion-forward pieces that are limited and will help drive women to our brand.”