Puppets and Puppets designer Carly Mark made waves in the industry last week when she told The New York Times that she could no longer sell enough clothing to afford to live in New York, so she will be moving to London to focus on her more steady accessories business.
The response to the article, she said backstage before her final runway show at New York Fashion Week on Monday night, had been astounding, with many of her peers reaching out to thank her for telling the truth about just how hard it is for independent designers to survive right now.
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“It’s sad,” said Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour, who came out Monday night to support her friend.
Just affording a space to show the Puppets and Puppets collection was harder this season, with rental fees skyrocketing; one place Mark looked at wanted $25,000, double the price of last year — for a 24-hour rental.
Samples have gotten more expensive because New York factories are not getting as much work as they used to, she explained. “I wish there could be an incubator program where LVMH would use their factories to help young brands, and small quantities could be tacked on to theirs.”
But it’s not all New York’s fault, Mark clarified amid the pre-show backstage rush. “There are parts of the system that are really hard on young designers,” she said, noting that large e-commerce websites regularly putting things on sale has forced many specialty retailers that previously supported Puppets and Puppets to shut down.
“It’s not that I wanted to leave, I just got hit with the reality,” she said.
She’s also been hit with a lot of questions about why she thinks London will be any better.
“I know that London is an expensive city and I know a lot of designer friends in London that are struggling too, but I’m cutting out ready-to-wear for now and just doing handbags. I am a lot more fortunate than a lot of my contemporaries that I have a really healthy accessories division, so I can work on that and break even doing accessories,” she said. “And the fact I can get on a train and be in Paris in a few hours and take meetings there, you can’t beat it.”
On the runway, the clothes were simply things she wants to wear, she explained, mentioning distressed hoodies and oversize T-shirts with blurred out graphics as her everyday staples, along with more elegant eclectic sheer lace skirts and fur stoles evoking a more dreamlike quality.
There were also some clever concepts — skirts with long trains flipped up to become veils, hooded scarves that crisscross the shoulders, apron column gowns with delicate side ties, and sheer nylon pants stuffed into high heeled shoes. And where better to discover clever fashion concepts than independent designers? Without their creative spark, won’t the industry become that much more bland and marketing driven? All questions to ponder.
In the meantime, Mark traded novelty for more practical elegance when it came to accessories, including a “clutch” bag with a metal handle with the imprint of a hand in it, an oversized black hobo and great looking gold mock croc tote.
While those will be produced, the clothing will not, because Mark can’t afford it. She thought it was still important to show, however, because besides being a business, as she said, “this is my art.”
Launch Gallery: Puppets and Puppets Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Photos
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