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Altuzarra seeks to avoid the 'cool kid' label

Altuzarra seeks to avoid the 'cool kid' label

Joseph Altuzarra is keen to shake off the perception that he is the “cool kid” of fashion.

The designer founded his business in 2008 and quickly garnered an illustrious group of fans, including the likes of Diane Kruger, fashion editor Carine Roitfeld and J Crew boss Jenna Lyons.

While his pencil skirts, tailored blazers and chic saddlebags have been snapped up by keen fashionistas, Altuzarra is now seeking to prove himself as a serious industry heavyweight.

“It’s always difficult to have a brand predicated on cool, because there’s always going to be something cooler or younger and newer,” he told Business of Fashion. “That’s something I think about a lot. I never wanted to be the cool kid. Because it’s very hard to evolve from it.”

Born in Paris to a Chinese-American mother and a French father, Altuzarra’s multicultural upbringing is a major influence in his designs.

Specifically, the 33-year-old looks to imbue his garments with a “slight nonchalance” from his French side and the “ease of clothing, the pragmatism,” of American sportswear.

It seems his approach is working, with the company - which sold a minority stake to French fashion conglomerate Kering in 2013 - outperforming initial sales projections since the deal was signed. And part of the reason Altuzarra believes he’s been so successful is due to the way he interacts with his clients.

“I know (many) designers don’t like doing trunk shows or meeting clients, but I love it. You end up talking through the issues, whether it’s their arms or their stomach being a little soft…These are real things,” he explained.

The award-winning designer is investing in retail, recently launching a shop-in-shop at New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue, and working on e-commerce. But although connecting with the customer is a priority, Altuzarra is less enthusiastic about the trend for fast fashion.

“I think if you show six months in advance, and she goes into the store and it fits beautifully, and it’s the right price — she’ll buy it. I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that, personally.”

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