Designer John Varvatos dishes on how "Fashion Star" mimics the fashion world
Whether you’re a hopeful contestant on the reality competition series “Fashion Star” or a seasoned designer in the industry, you’ve got to go through the same thing: facing rejection from a retailer.
John Varvatos, a mentor to the designers on “Fashion Star” and proprietor of his own brand, says although he’s disappointed when certain designs don’t get purchased each week, dealing with rejection is part of the design when creating a fashion star.
“You can be super excited about what you’re presenting to (the buyers) in certain cases, and they can just wash right over it, or (say), ‘It’s not right for me,’” he says. “I’m not surprised, and I know it’s not easy.”
On “Fashion Star”, the designers compete for bids from Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and H&M, and the end goal is to sell their product to customers.
“It’s no different then when I deal with the buyers everyday,” he says. “It’s one thing to have your own stores and you can do it anyway you want to. (But) we have shopping shops, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Barneys and Nordstrom and stores like that across America. We still need to get to the buyer.”
What Varvatos advises the remaining contestants on “Fashion Star” to think about is not which retailer they want bidding on their designs, but rather on location, location, location.
“What some of them didn’t think about much is, ‘Where would I want to be in that store?’ because in the end they just can’t stick you next to the front door,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Where would I want to be?’ and ‘Who’s the customer that’s shopping in that area of the store?’ and, ‘Am I dialing into their look, and their sensibility and their price point?’”
According to Varvatos, once a designer figures out where they want to be in a desired retailer’s store, they know what kind of designs their clothes will be surrounded by and what type of style the retailer and the consumer are looking for.
“If I’m going to be on the Saks floor, what’s the competition look like on the Saks floor?” he says. “What would my adjacency be with other brands in where I see myself fitting? What’s the competition? What are they offering in terms of look, quality, finish, and fit? Whatever it is, in the end, that’s what the buyers are thinking.”
This is what Varvatos believes will get the remaining contestants more bids. And in case any viewers had any doubt in the seriousness of the bids on “Fashion Star”, Varvatos assures us it’s not deliberately dramatic despite the fact it’s a reality series.
“They (the buyers) have to be fiscally responsible to Saks, or Macy’s or H&M and they’re only going to buy that (garment) if they feel it’s going to get sold,” he explains. “This show is not about having some things for fluff in the stores. They’re seriously looking at these products as being sold and that’s why they’re particular.”
He adds, “They know their business, they know their customers, that’s what they’re paid for and it’s difficult to out-guess them. What you need to understand more than anything else is their stores, and who their customer is.”
“Fashion Star” airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET on CTV two. You can watch episodes online at CTV.ca