Since launching a line of neckwear in 2010, the designers behind Timo Weiland -- Timo Weiland, Alan Eckstein and Donna Kang -- have always recognized that fashion is a business. Weiland himself worked as an investment banker before deciding to launch a clothing line, and the brand was an early member of the CFDA Incubator program, where the team received mentoring from industry veterans and NYU MBA students.
But even when you have great stockists like Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop, keeping an independent label afloat is far from easy. "We just took on our first round of outside investment," Weiland said backstage at the brand's fall 2015 womenswear show Thursday. (We were discussing venue changes; the team had shown at Milk Studios as part of Made Fashion Week for the previous two seasons, and this time they chose Pier 59 Studios, another popular space for younger labels). "We’re going to talk about maybe doing something else next season like a raw space somewhere."
The designers partnered with Project I, a boutique company focused on nurturing early stage apparel companies. "Project I was established as an incubator environment with a mandate to nurture and support dynamic, pioneering brands that are embracing innovation," says CEO John Elmuccio. "Timo Weiland ideally represents that dynamic." The company took a 25 percent minority investment.
So what will they do with the money? "Donna's buying a house boat," joked Eckstein.
"[Project I] has a lot of background in fashion," said Kang. "The most important thing about them is they can provide us with a lot of support other than the monetary investment; they give us knowledge and experience and they also have a lot of production background, which is the most important thing when it comes to fashion to me." The cash flow should also relieve some financial pressure. "It’s a business and we really want to make sure everything is well-made and they will allow us to grow and perhaps take some of the weight off us."
Asked if the brand's menswear and womenswear collections, which are shown separately during NYFW, were developing at different rates, Kang said she feels that they're developing at the same pace. And that while the brand started with just womenswear, "I think the menswear has grown so much just because menswear in general has grown as an industry. Now men definitely have a voice in fashion stronger than they ever have before."
The key will be growing and being business-minded while maintaining the youthful, New York-cool sensibility the brand has become known for, and that was very present in the fall 2015 offering, which included chunky sweaters, oversized sweater coats, easy pinstriped blouses, pants and skirts, in a palette of mostly grey and navy with refreshing pops of lavender. The silhouettes were simple and easy, making for a practical, but still cool, wardrobe for the brand's nonchalant New York girl. "It was kind of the whole thing of the girls ran out and threw on a jacket and threw on a hat and when they took off they're hat they had beanie hair, it was what you felt a New York girl would really do," said Kang.
The crowd included a mix of "It" girls and guys like Waris Ahluwalia and Mia Moretti (who DJ'd), and a sophisticated-looking Kesha, who actually asked to come to the show, and who actually wakes up before 9 a.m. (the show's start time).
See the collection below.