Since the launch of his eponymous women’s label in 1998, Yigal Azrouël has opened a flagship boutique, launched a men’s line, introduced accessories and developed the contemporary label Cut25. Yet between all of these projects, the dashing designer always manages to stay calm, cool, and collected. Last week was no different as Azrouël welcomed party goers into his meatpacking district boutique for a special shopping event, co-hosted by Rent the Runway.
We got a chance to chat with the man behind the brand–clad in his uniform of a leather motorcycle jacket with jeans and a t-shirt–about his particular road to success.
Fashionista: When you were growing up in Israel, did you know you wanted to become a designer?
Yigal Azrouël: I didn’t always want to be a designer but I was always attracted to it and it was kind of a natural fit. I didn’t study fashion, I’m a self-made designer. I always wanted to travel but I grew up surfing so I thought I was going to surf the rest of my life. But that’s not so realistic.
How did you break into the fashion industry?
I have no idea! I just started working and putting sketches together but I never thought “this is what I’d do for a living.” It just kind of happened. I’m pinching myself because I’m very lucky. You just need to believe in what you do and listen to your heart. It takes a lot of work but I got great support and met really great people who helped me from the beginning. I always believed in my brand.
How do you benefit from making your dresses available on Rent the Runway?
Renting a dress is a very modern way to shop. There are so many options out there and it helps my business. Usually when a person rents a dress, they want to buy it so then they come into the store. It happens a lot. It’s also great exposure anytime a woman wears my dresses.
Would you ever consider collaborating with a mass retailer like H&M or Target?
It depends on the opportunity but I’m open to it. I think it’s cool for the consumer if they can’t afford your brand but can still wear a version of it.
We loved the shoes you debuted at the 2011 spring shows. Would you consider launching more accessories?
We’re working on more accessories. We introduced scarves and we’ll have more bags. We might start making sunglasses as well.
What were the benefits of launching your contemporary line Cut25?
Cut25 is much trendier, like buy it now and wear it now. It’s perfect for downtown New York. The pieces are very easy. Cut25 was a great way to expand and it’s a great option for the customer who can’t afford the main line. It’s another way to reach out to the consumer.
Is it easier designing for men or women?
It’s easier to design for men. It’s like designing for me. Designing for women is a little more interesting though. Men are so conservative and women just love wearing clothes.
What are your plans this summer?
I’m opening a shop Bridgehampton this summer. I’m really excited about it. I’ll probably go to France or Italy for a few days, or a week, we’ll see. I love to travel, but I’ll spend most of my time in New York.
Love Azrouël? You can dig for some deals at the Yigal sample sale today (through Thursday) at 225 West 39th Street, 5th floor, from 9am to 7pm.