Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Adam Kimmel

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.


Close comment

Detach comments


  1. argos

    May 30, 2006 at 8:46 am

    Adam, this is great stuff. I agree about maintaining high intrinsic value with this offering. I wonder if it will remain in Italy over time. Does one have to alter production values to alter the price points?

  2. Anonymous

    May 30, 2006 at 10:23 am

    that is one great portrait


  3. minny

    May 30, 2006 at 11:03 am

    i love the utilitarian, down-to-earth quality of the clothing pictured. i’ll definitely be keeping an eye out.

  4. Gary

    May 30, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Adam Kimmel is awesome! I really like his line. Totally cool…

  5. Anonymous

    May 30, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    This kind of discussion is really fascinating. I know if it were me, I’d avoid the “big time” as much as possible, but in any case it will be interesting to see what happens. Please keep us informed!

  6. Jesper

    May 30, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    I LOVE those shoes!

  7. Curmudgo

    May 30, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    You people are nuts. I hope those shoes cost no more than they would at a thrift store because the bottom line is that, if you were to realize that the Emperor has no clothes, you would recognize that those shoes are about as good as your grandfather’s shoes collecting dust in the attic. I just think it is unseemly to walk around in old, worn out shoes, and downright silly to pay anything more than about $15 for them. Yes, I cannot say shiboleth.

  8. Curmdudgo

    May 30, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    Also, plaid should never be worn outside a hunting trip. End of discussion.

  9. Anonymous

    May 30, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    I really enjoy most of what I have seen from Adam Kimmel…especially the overalls.


    Isn’t this whole idea of like..recreating utilitarian clothes becoming a bit trendy?

    Engineered Garments, Lalo, Adam Kimmel…there are many more…and many more to come i am sure…

    Where is the innovation?

    I love the idea of re-working classics…but I just feel like designers are focusing too much on the past..

  10. eurobrat

    May 30, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    His line reminds my of the handmade clothing my Finnish grandfather used to wear on the farm.

  11. Elijah James

    May 30, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    Finally, an excuse to wear work shirts.

    Wait, I didn’t need one before.

    Love his pic.

  12. The Sartorialist

    May 30, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    those are vintage shoes and probably the exact same as the one your grandfather wore – they are great for inspiration and setting a tone for the collection, don’t take everything you see so literally.

    3:42 pm
    A lot of designers have taken inspiration from work clothes. What Adam has done is use those worker fabrics but he has added really great design details – interesting buttons, pocket shapes and placement, seam detail.

    He has also put together a lot of High$/Low$ fabric combos that are pretty cool. Only time will tell if he can keep advancing this theme in an intriguing way.

  13. Mike Paget

    May 31, 2006 at 12:37 am

    I’d love to see it in real life – carhart lined with squirrel fur sounds wicked regardless.

  14. Anonymous

    May 31, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve seen the clothes and know what well made is. These are not well made. Made in Italy, does not necessarily mean made well and in todays world sometimes it doesn’t even mean made in Italy. Plenty of Italian companies are outsourcing to eastern Europe to have competative prices.

    I also agree that remaking “ultilitarian” or “classic” clothes is boring. If you are suppose to be a “designer” then design something. Take inspiration from the past, but translate it into something new. How tired I am of seeing thrift store clothes refabricated in luxe or novel fabrics. Marc Jacobs cornered this market a long, long time ago. There is nothing new in this aproach!!

  15. The Sartorialist

    May 31, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Anon 6:34
    If you have seen the collection then you have seen the great little design details especially in the shirts and outerwear.

  16. Anonymous

    June 1, 2006 at 1:21 am

    i love the check pattern on that shirt.

  17. Anonymous

    June 1, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    I came across this designer randomly at Bergdorfs about a month ago and was immediately drawn to the cut and weight of the fabrics. The prices are a bit high, which put me off at first, but I went ahead and bought one of his shirts and a month later I can honestly say that I love wearing it and pretty much have gotten my money’s worth because I wear it a couple of times a week. AK undersatnds the proportions of the male body and makes his clothing accordingly. Before you draw any conclusions about the work of this designer based on price or materials, I encourage you to go into Bergdorfs – or wherever else his clothing is sold – and try a few pieces on. That’s the only way to really appreciate AK’s work.

  18. Anonymous

    June 1, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    plaid design is nice; i just wished the pattern matching was better. his target buyers probably won’t notice though.

  19. cs

    June 2, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    I would be soo grateful if someone could tell me where the glasses he’s wearing are from, or if there are any similar styles out there

  20. Sophie von Limmud

    April 22, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Do you know by chance how the floor that can be seen under the shoes is called and/or what it is made of? thank you very much – Sophie

  21. marya

    March 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve always liked the line of work, is like going back to the beginning and look inside the rustic design, Carhartt has always seemed an icon in this line of clothing, work is exceptional adam

Leave a comment

Related posts