Lela Rose is a fashion industry veteran. She has continued to have retail success throughout the ebbs and flows of a sometimes temperamental marketplace. Rose understands when to take risks with her business, like when she launched her bridal division, and when to let other designers follow the trends and evolve into less authentic territories. Rose, who is Texas-born, has called New York home for more than two decades, maintains a loyal customer base who are drawn to her feminine and sophisticated collections season after season.
You’ve done such a great job of keeping your Texas accent and approachable personality – I think it is reminiscent in your collection. Has this influenced your dominant markets? Which are they?
My mother always says, “Be nice, be nice, be nice.” That mentality is something I’ve always brought along with me. We have strong markets across the US, but we really try and cater to the needs and wants of our customer wherever she may be. I love designing clothes to make you feel confident and dressed for the day from morning to evening. If you look good, you feel good.
You’ve been in business a long time, it’s a testament to a good product, what changes have you noticed as new, younger clients come on the scene? What are they looking for now?
We are definitely seeing a younger customer coming to us for bridal. As for our RTW business, she ranges from 35 – 65 and is savvy, social, fashion forward and appreciates color, fabric and attention to detail.
Has your customer base evolved since you launched?
Yes, absolutely. We started the business almost 20 years ago out of my living room selling dresses to family and friends. Over the course of nearly two decades we’ve built a healthy successful business and credit that to our fantastic team and commitment to beautiful handcrafted garments.
Are you able to offer exclusive merchandising for each of your department store vendors?
Yes, we work on exclusive products and capsule collections with several of our top wholesale partners.
What about e-commerce? Do you struggle with feeling that retailers are all saturated with the same assortment?
Our website is really our “global store” and a one-stop-shop to step into the world of Lela Rose. It’s a place where you can of course shop all of the newest collections but also a destination where you can find inspiration and browse our blog for recipes, styling, wedding collections, etc.
In what ways are you able to collect feedback from your customer base? Has social media changed you design approach in any way?
We welcome feedback from all customers whether they are purchasing in our store in Dallas, online or at any of our retail partners. We take feedback seriously and wholeheartedly. We want to give the customer what she wants! Social media hasn’t changed our design approach per se, but we are learning what people are attracted to and what they come looking for on our social media channels.
Can you give us some insight to current challenges in the marketplace heading into FW17?
It’s an interesting time for the fashion community specifically around the “See Now, Buy Now” model and the antiquated delivery windows of collections and fashion weeks. For example, most designers show fall collections in February/March and with social media and today’s digital advancements, customers are seeing them right away but aren’t actually able to buy into them until July/August. Even then, it’s summer and with the weather people aren’t thinking about fall and outerwear…so it’s challenging to determine how to change it and do what’s right for your brand.
Having been in business for so long and experiencing waves what is your strategy to overcome them?
We are constantly assessing the current landscape and determining what feels right for the brand. There is no right or wrong answer. I think you have to take risks.
What do you love about living in New York? Which neighborhood do you call home?
I love the energy and constant inspiration. Tribeca – we’ve lived downtown for over 20 years!
Where do you go to decompress and not think about fashion?
I feel like I’m always plugged in (somehow!), but I love escaping to our family home in Jackson Hole.
I read you were a painting major in college – do you still paint?
We are quite crafty in the office so I definitely touch all sorts of projects – painting, sewing, cutting fabrics…we do it all!