The designer, who has also done stints at big fashion houses like Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis, and Paco Rabanne, has just launched Paskho, a "luxury active wear and lounge clothing brand" on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Proceeds raised over the next month will go towards fulfilling orders. And, by "backing" the project on the site, you place an order for one of his items. For instance, by pledging $45, you are promised a "women's sexy tank."
E-commerce is expected to launch in mid-to-late April on Paskho.com for pre-sale with a full inventoried collection expected to hit the site in mid-June. The crowd-sourcing theme will continue there as well. Products won't be produced unless enough people order them and customers will also be invited to vote on items and make suggestions for future products. Since the clothes themselves--basically tank tops, sweatshirts and sweat pants in high end fabrics--are seasonless, the line depends on customer feedback for "newness." Pieces will range in price from $45 to $300.
We caught up with Robinson to find out more about his unconventional new line, what he's being doing since he left Gap, and if he'd ever work for a big brand again. Read on for our interview.
Fashionista: Why did you decide to use Kickstarter? What about it appealed to you? Patrick Robinson: When I began shaping the business model for PASKHO, the most important thing was that I would be able to engage and connect directly with my customers. Kickstarter allows me to do that and as well as apply the feedback to the process. Launching a fashion collection today is very different than it was five years ago and this is the way I believe fashion is moving. Kickstarter is not only one of the most innovative platforms for funding today, but also instrumental in creating awareness amongst influencers. What have you been up to since you left Gap? I took some time off to travel and soul search. I was able to take a step back and figure out what I wanted to achieve next as a designer – the result was PASKHO, a brand that reflects my true passion in life: melding active wear with every day clothing. What frustrated you most about Gap/the fashion industry as a whole? I have utmost respect for all the brands I’ve worked with, including the GAP. I think in general, the fashion industry is changing, and I want to be part of that change. Dialogue with customers has historically been an afterthought in fashion--brands are used to dictating the product, the trends, the message. But today, the process is morphing into a much more interactive conversation, and one that I’m eager to lead with my customers. We are seeing more and more how critical this open dialogue is to a brand’s health--not just financially, but in all aspects.
What did you mean when you said [on his Kickstarter page] "I had stopped designing clothes and had instead become the guy who manages the people who design the clothes"? I had lost that direct connection, that joy that goes into making something that is entirely your vision and passion. Leading large design teams was a great experience in my career, but with PASKHO, I am able to design exactly what I love, and share that with the customer directly. Do you think you'd ever design for a big company again, even if it was on your terms? Never say never Why loungewear? My true passion is clothes that connect with people, clothes for those who lead an active lifestyle like me- Pieces to work out in but also hang out in. They’re multifunctional; you could go for a run in our pants, for instance, but you could also wear them around on errands and still look pulled together. They’re clothes for the way that people live their lives today. How will you take suggestions from customers and decide which ones to produce? Through monthly collaborations on PASKHO.com, customers will be invited to vote on new products. If critical mass is not achieved, the product will not be made which will reduce waste and excess inventory. What can we expect from your blog on the site? The blog is really important to me--I will be writing it daily. I want to enforce that personal connection with the customer and bare my soul on the blog--discussing my likes, my fears, my creative process and the process of building this company. I will also feature key people that are essentially living the PASKHO lifestyle. Where do you see Paskho five years from now? I want PASKHO to be a success, of course, and hopefully we will grow in five years time. However, regardless of our growth, I will always maintain that dialogue with the customer, and always work to connect directly with them and meet their demands.