Designer Alejandra Alonso Rojas is taking these uncommon times as permission to question the industry she operates in.
“I think I’m going to come out of this as a rebel, because I’ve been really analyzing the business and what I want to do, and there are so many things I want to change in order to survive this and to make the business profitable,” Alonso Rojas said on the Glossy Podcast.
The usual fashion industry calendar is one of them.
“The calendar makes no sense at all,” she said. “The new generations don’t shop six months before they can wear something. And the fact that, by the time you want to wear it, it’s already 70-80% off — the impact on the brand was terrible.”
Alonso Rojas is currently looking to her own items from seasons past — via her first “archive sale” — in order to boost sales for the luxury label. The profits are going toward supporting the company’s staff, and to paying rent for the company’s combined office, studio and showroom space in Soho.
“We had the inventory, and I think it was the right thing to do,” Alonso Rojas said. “It was a crazy idea, and I’ve shipping boxes like crazy. But at the end of the day, it worked.”
Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
“The fashion system was not fully working. It was very difficult to make profitable businesses out of small brands because of all the deliveries from humongous brands. The calendar makes no sense at all. The new generations don’t shop six months before they can wear something. It’s not like you see a show and you need to buy right away. When the product hits the store, that’s when you want to buy a coat or a spring dress. The fact that by the time you want to wear it, everything is already 70-80% off — the impact on the brand was terrible. I think I’m going to come out of this as a rebel, because I’ve been really analyzing the business and what I want to do, and there are so many things I want to change in order to survive this and in order to make the business profitable.”
Turning to past items for the first time
“At the beginning of April, I had the idea of running an archive sale, which we had never done before. I don’t like to have crazy sales or anything like that — I think that’s pretty damaging for a high-end, emerging brand. The situation is what it is, and I really wanted to help my team, so 100% of the profits for the entire month are going to go toward them and toward being able to pay our office rent. We had the inventory, and I think it was the right thing to do. It was a crazy idea, and I’ve shipping boxes like crazy. But at the end of the day, it worked.”
Reinvention over death
“I don’t like all these articles talking about the death of retail, the death of department stores. I think that’s a pretty negative approach. If I’ve learned something during this lockdown, it’s that we all have to be more creative and more positive and driven toward solutions, rather than burying things and killing things. I’m a little tired of those headlines .Those headlines also have a horrible impact on designers. Maybe you’ve already committed with contracts, maybe you’ve already shipped. Having that anxiety attack of, ‘Oh my God, this thing is shutting down. Am I going to get my money? Do I have to fire more people?’ It’s pretty hard for us designers, as well. It’s not just the department stores.”