HAIR PRODUCTS: KIEHL’S, INCLUDING SILK GROOM SERUM. HAIR: TYLER JOHNSTON FOR KIEHL’S/ONE REPRESENTS. GROOMER: ANDREW GALLIMORE FOR NARS/CLM. MAKEUP: ZOE TAYLOR FOR DARPHIN/JED ROOT. STUDIO MANAGER: MARK PATTENDEN. PHOTO ASSISTANTS: FENTON BAILEY, MALAK KABBANI. MAKEUP ASSISTANT: LILY GREGORY.
COLLEEN KELSEY: What has been the biggest change since you started working in fashion?
JOSEPH ALTUZARRA: I think there’s a much more complete understanding of business, and fashion as a business, not just for designers, but also for editors and for industry professionals generally. When I first started working in fashion, it was economically a very strong time, and fashion was a lot about the dream of fashion and the escapism. I don’t think there was as much of an emphasis on branding and understanding who your customer was and building longer-term narratives in terms of a brand. I think that changed a lot over the last ten years, not just because of the recession, but also the changing nature of the business because of the internet, how brands sell, and the fact that there are so many more brands, and you have to be defined as a brand so early on.
KELSEY: How do you balance all of those different arms: the business and the creative side, making beautiful clothes?
ALTUZARRA: From the very beginning, I never thought about my role as a designer as solely creative. A lot of that has come from the fact that I started my own business, and I am looking at the bottom line every day, and I see money coming in, but I also see it going out. So I do think the business side of the company definitely affects how I think about the creative side. And vice versa. It’s really crucial for designers to understand the 360-degree approach to fashion. In the end, it is definitely about having beautiful clothes and beautiful shows. But it really is about having the clothes go to a store and having women want to put it on and buy it.
KELSEY: What’s the biggest challenge of being a designer and helming your own brand today?
ALTUZARRA: There are a lot. [laughs] One thing that’s really important for me is to always feel like we are true to the brand that we started building in 2008. It can be very tough to continue your message and to stay focused on what you do when other trends are happening. So when minimalism was a huge thing two years ago, we were still doing things that were very true to us and to Altuzarra. I think it was very important for us to remain true to who we were as a brand. But I also think it can be really tough to feel like you are your lone island and everyone is doing something else.
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