Fashion loves a good comeback, especially when it involves someone with a great eye and impeccable taste, like Joseph Quartana. If you only know him as that killer DJ at chic NYC parties, you’re missing out. Quartana is the braintrust behind niche fragrance line Six Scents and the now-defunct avant-garde boutique, Seven New York (remember it?).
Seven, which used to be on Mercer Street in SoHo, was known for its always-on-the-edge buy. Need that claw ring from Gareth Pugh? Quartana had it.
But due to economic factors and construction--the storefront was literally blocked, cutting back on foot traffic--Seven shuttered, and we lost Quartana's incredible knack for seeking out the coolest, most unique pieces. Until now. The fashion renaissance man recently teamed with InvertedEdge.com, a new e-commerce site that focuses on emerging Asian designers. Quartana chatted with us about the concept behind Inverted Edge, the general state of fashion, and why the site is just so necessary now. (Did we mention the price points are fabulous?)
Fashionista: Why focus on Asian fashion designers? Joseph Quartana: I've kept one foot in the Asian market for about the last five or six years or so, as I was regularly invited as a VIP buyer to both the Seoul and Singapore fashion weeks. I, of course, was scouting for Seven, and found numerous genuinely talented and virtually unknown designers over there during the process that I wished to share with my clientele here, namely Kaal E. Suktae and Juun.J. Had I not gone on these trips, I wouldn't have known they existed, because the media in the US and Europe focuses primarily on the talent in this part of the world only. And that's a shame, because if you are looking for an alternative to the same old, same old, you could actually find it there! So we're bridging the gap.
With so many prominent designers from Asia, do you think that the Asian fashion weeks will soon be as important to the mainstream fashion world as Paris Fashion Week/New York Fashion Week? Well, I'd say Korea is already there. I watched them grow from almost nothing to a global powerhouse of fashion influence practically overnight! And with Korea it extends to pop music as well. Witness Psy. So they are doing something right over there. I'd say, though, that the Asian fashion weeks will eventually and inevitably be as important, just because of the tremendous size and power of the markets over there. For example, by 2017, Asia/Pacific will be the world's biggest online fashion market, way bigger than North America or Europe.
You've always been really into cool, cutting edge fashion—which is what so many of us loved about Seven. Will we see that same influence now on the site? After I closed up Seven, I was looking for a new challenge for about a year before this one surfaced. As I mentioned, I'm no stranger to the Asian fashion markets, nor emerging talent for that matter, as I broke in a lot of designers over the years during my tenure at Seven (Gareth Pugh, Preen, Bernhard Willhelm, Jeremy Scott, Peter Pilotto, Nicholas Kirkwood, Juun.J, Haider Ackermann, to name a few), and I was looking to get involved with a bigger market, i.e. women's contemporary and high contemporary, as I never really did it. So this felt like a natural evolution for me. The mission of Inverted Edge differs from Seven in that we want to showcase new talent that is accessible, flattering, and at a reasonable price point. Whereas Seven was about shocking our clientele with the genius of the cutting-edge at much higher prices, and getting WAY out in front of trends. With the economic downturn, this new venture is a lot more sensible! But as you know, I like to push the envelope.
Do you have any favorite designers you're working with right now or have your eye on? We're looking in particular at Raoul, Thakoon Addition, KTZ, Ground Zero; we like Mint Designs in Japan... and we'd love to talk to Prabal Gurung, Richard Chai, Derek Lam, maybe eventually Alexander Wang and Dion Lee.
The price points on the site are fantastic by the way. Was that a big consideration? Fact is, the economy continues to be pretty horrible. So this is the logical thing to do. Awesome fashion at a good price without compromise of style, integrity, or comfort.
This is a shift for you, Joseph, because, as you said, it's more contemporary than pure high fashion. Was it hard to make that transition? No, not at all. I welcome new challenges of this sort. For starters, in some ways it is easier for me to buy womenswear than menswear, because since I don't wear it, I can be completely objective, whereas I have a certain natural built-in bias that is a little hard to shake for men's. And I've always sought to leverage value to my customers when considering ANY piece that would grace my rails, so this is really no different from what I've always done. But whether it be buying for women or men, the key is knowing your client and selecting for them, and them alone.
What can we look forward to, anything exciting that's upcoming that we can get dirt on? We can't really talk about them... YET!