Last week I saw Adam Kimmel’s collection for the first time. He really has hit the trifecta of accounts with Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Bergdorf’s in NYC. If he gets 10 Corso Como he should just quit because it is all downhill from there.
Adam’s collection is based on real workwear fabrics (the kind the super in my building wears), and he has played those against super luxe fabrics like cashmere or fur. One of Adam’s smartest moves was knowing that if you are going to use very basic fabrics then production has to be very good, so the manufacturing is done in Italy. The outerwear is particularly good – think stylized Carhartt (the heavy cotton coat with a squirrel fur lining was very interesting), and the jackets and suiting have a deliberate quirkiness to the cut. I can see why his collection appeals to the more advanced stores.
I asked Adam about the prices and he said, in a mater-of-fact way, that they were “all over the board”. He felt no need to overprice the workwear fabrics just so they fell in line with the cashmere groups. As long as he stays mostly with speciality stores this strategy should work. Only when he begins to court the more price structured department stores will he begin to have to deal with the questions of where do they place him. With such a wide price range he could be placed in designer in some stores, or contemporary in others, all depending on which part of the collection they buy into more. He could even have to move by season within an existing account depending on the buyer’s presentation, but that would really be a pain for everyone so it will be a challenge for him.
With that said, Adam has set himself up in a really great position for future growth. He has been able to charm some of the worlds most discriminating stores with a collection of very proletarian fabrics and the most luxe fabrics. Going forward he has the whole world of fabric (at all price points) to begin layering into his collection. If he continues to build a reputation as a “quirky fabric guy” he can add everything from denim to super 120′s and still have it fit his aesthetic without seeming like he is selling out or stretching to get a lower price point. A designer like Thom Browne, for instance, has set such a premium on luxe and tailoring that he has given himself very little room for expanding into new fabrications or price points. If he begins to add layers to his collection that are anything less than the original, won’t it seem a little like “Thom Browne Lite”?
To me Adam has really set himself up with an almost perfect business model. Sure, anyone could think of it but to actually do it is so, so difficult.
This is another one of those dance-of-the-young-designer that I think is so fun to watch. It will be really interesting to see what choices Adam makes and if he can turn this early success into a “big time” or at least “long time” business. After all who am I to say that “big time” business should be his goal? Maybe Mr. Alaia has had it right all along.
Not to put more pressure on you Adam but we will be watching.