Bill Blass, the American sportswear label over 4 decades old, is making a comeback. With a brand heritage that still runs true to many Americans and a new design aesthetic set to hit home, there are three lessons any young designer can learn from this mega-watt relaunch.
Seasonless-ness is the new black.
Clothing on the new Bill Blass website is available for a few months and then switches out, allowing the new label to operate on a seasonless schedule. “It’s liberating to just completely dismiss the [fashion] calendar, in the frenzy of trying to get everything ready for a certain date,” says the former J.Crew designer and now lead Designer of Bill Blass, Chris Benz. “Our structure puts a bit more power back into the design department, so we can take the time needed to come up with fantastic ideas and not design into a calendar, which we’ve all been trained to do.”*
E-commerce only is the way to start.
Even a brand with a seasoned history knows there is something to be said of a model with low overhead and a great ability to test and be agile. E-commerce allows designers to shift and sell quickly, making product pivots much easier and quieter than in-store equivalents. It’s not necessarily easier, but, done right, it can help young companies go further with less and learn faster.
A real brand always carries value – even if it’s different for different customers.
The Bill Blass customer of yesteryear won’t be the same shopper checking out of the new BillBlass.com but that doesn’t mean the company, a once $700 M a year business, can’t find it’s new market. Like any new brand (whether relaunched or just launched) needs time to hit it’s stride and test in market, but – once it does – it’s potential can be boundless.
The soft launch of this legacy brand is perfectly timed in an environment when designer #burnouts highlight the benefits of seasonless fashion calendars. If Bill Blass launched his collection today on NineteenthAmendment.com, he’d fit in with the over 300 designers looking to present brands at their own paces – launching mini collections that make sense while building (or rebuilding) a great brand name.
What do you think of the new Bill Blass and which of our designers could compete? Tell us in the comments below.
*From Refinery29 article, “Is This Relaunched Legacy Label The Answer To Fashion’s Burnout Problem?”