Fashion director for Lafayette 148 New York Edward Wilkerson presented his spring 2016 collection at Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida. Wilkerson's joy radiated as he showed off his favorite pieces, including Leo Bonded Tech Jacket. In honor of Autism Month Awareness, the company is donating 10% of all sales to the Palm Beach School for Autism. Now that's fashion with a cause.
KOTMINA: Can you describe a Lafayette 148 New York woman?
WILKERSON: Our woman is multi-faceted: modern, confident, smart and well-traveled. She’s a CEO, a business woman, a law student. She’s a mother, a wife, a single woman in the city. She’s inspired by fashion, art and modern architecture, and truly values quality over quantity. More and more we find that our woman is multi-generational, and hear stories of daughters borrowing our pieces from their mothers’ closets, and vice versa. While we are best known for our perfect white shirts and several key pant silhouettes, our more fashion-forward collections have been performing well in the recent years and we find that our customer is coming to us for her full lifestyle wardrobe – from work to weekend and beyond.
KOTMINA: What are your views on sustainable fashion vs. fast fashion? How does Lafayette play part in sustainability?
WILKERSON: We’re known for our enduring designs, fine European fabrics, expert craftsmanship, and certainly value quality over quantity. Fast fashion is heavily focused on trends and what’s right for this exact moment, but for us, it’s equally as important to find what’s next and also what’s right.
We take great pride in the way our company conducts business, the way our garments are made, as well as in the work and welfare of our skilled artisans. Most of our fabrics come from specialty mills in Italy, which we have worked with over 15 years and have a very friendly relationship with. We truly value quality in everything we do and in our relationships with all of our employees and outside vendors.
KOTMINA: Sustainable fashion has been a hot topic in the last couple of years, do you think this is a trend or is this substantial footing for a high-end company such as yours?
WILKERSON: Sustainability is touching the lives of everyone around the world, and it is something that all fashion businesses are learning more about and figuring out how to adapt. We have been meeting with various vendors offering sustainable, yet luxurious fabrics, and with those developing new techniques for dying, etc. We also work very closely with our various mills on such things as the placement of prints so that each yard can be utilized as much as possible, thus eliminating any unnecessary waste.
KOTMINA: It's great that you offer plus size and petite. Was this a financially influenced decision or is this part of Lafayette vision?
WILKERSON: Over the past 20 years, we’ve made superior fit a key focus of ours. In response to valuable customer feedback, we now make 58 different sizes. Our petite and plus-size business was started in response to the fit inquiry of several women and has since blossomed into an important part of our business.
KOTMINA: What are the must-have pieces from Lafayette RTW Fall 2016 collection?
WILKERSON: For fall 2016, every woman needs a great pair of velvet pants, a new mock-neck top, and some lace. We also have incredibly strong outerwear pieces – slightly oversized, dip-dyed and with luxe fur accents here and there. Anything with needle-punch detailing and magnetic leather closures will instantly give her wardrobe an instant update.
KOTMINA: Ten percent of all sales will be donated to Palm Beach School for Autism. What's your connection to Autism?
WILKERSON: Education and access to it for all children is deeply important to us at Lafayette 148 New York. We believe that the work of Palm Beach School for Autism is paramount in helping children with various learning disabilities or impairments find the right environment and tools to help them thrive. We are extremely proud to support the Palm Beach School for Autism through Saks, Palm Beach, as it is an important foundation with a purpose that simply cannot be overlooked.
KOTMINA: I have noticed that your stand alone stores are located globally. What are your long-term goals in terms of branching out to stand alone stores in the USA?
WILKERSON: We love the level of service we are able to provide in our Soho Concept Store in New York, and want to share that experience with many more of our fans and supporters around the US. We have many plans in the works, but can’t disclose any specifics at this time. Stay tuned