Designer Tanya Taylor's eponymous brand has come a long way since she launched it in 2012, but her website hasn't grown along with her — until now. On Tuesday, Taylor relaunched the site for the first time since she founded the line with a cleaner and more colorful design, a behind-the-scenes look at her printmaking process and, most importantly, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce business.
Not that Taylor lacks for retailers. The 2015 North American Woolmark Prize winner and 2014 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist has seen her wholesale business grow 300 percent over the past year as she's picked up accounts across the world including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Lane Crawford, Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue. But she's lacked a central hub for her growing customer base. "We've never had a direct communication with our customer," said Taylor. "We feel a responsibility for educating a larger audience and being able to say, each season — whether it be that I painted each flower with acrylic paint on a large canvas to start the print, or if it was through experimenting with ink — there's just something that people don't necessarily get to know when they walk into a store and see a collection."
Designed by New York agency Wondersauce, the new TanyaTaylor.com emphasizes clarity and efficiency, especially when it comes to shipping. Taylor also partnered with digital agency Maison MRKT after reading about it in the The New York Times to more strategically reach customers with a youthful, optimistic tone of communication and through mailers, discounts and promotions. She is planning for a conservative amount of inventory the first season, about 10 percent of her total wholesale business, and will sell pieces that are already in production in at least one of her other markets until she sees if the demand exists to support more.
But in addition to launching the fall 2015 collection on Tuesday — "respectfully after stores have received their fall merchandise" — the new site will also sell six looks from past seasons that have proved especially popular. "We have grown so quickly in the last year that a lot of customers are starting to become really excited about the brand now and didn't have the opportunity two years ago to buy pieces that they probably would have loved," she says. Among those returning are a rainbow stripe look from spring 2014 and a red and white "Robin" knit look from spring 2015, which Taylor calls "the sweater that never stopped." Several celebrities wore it, including Lady Gaga and Kerry Washington (see above), and it sold out early in the season.
In order to support the increased sales she's seen over the past year, Taylor has tripled the size of her team from four to 12. "When we started everyone was young and very ambitious, but we didn’t really have a leader in different departments," she said. "There's been a huge shift towards people with experience and it's taken a long time for everyone to gel and redefine jobs, but I would say at this point we are really happy, and it's amazing how much more gets done." She's hired a director of production, a director of operations, a financial controller and a director of marketing, among others, as well as an assistant knitwear designer since knitwear accounts for 40 percent of her business.
A bigger team allows Taylor to focus on the design process and special projects like the 2015 Woolmark prize — she won the regional prize in July and will go on to compete for the international one — and being a part of the 2016 Swarovski Collective, a one year competition program which began in July and culminates in a 25,000 euro prize. "It's so hard to design when you're under pressure in so many different ways," she says. "I think the end result is that meaty things will feel more thoughtful and more consistent and that's always important."
There's yet another meaty thing on the horizon, besides the spring 2016 show next month. Taylor will present her first pre-fall collection in December. "I love pre-collections and resort was a great success when we introduced that [two seasons ago]," she said. "It feels like the natural next step."