1. Some of our readers might not understand well the concept of e-showroom. Can you tell us with your own words what Modalyst is and what differentiates it from other e-showrooms?
Modalyst is an online wholesale platform that connects buyers and brands. Our goal is not only to increase our designers’ orders but also act as a platform through which they can run their entire wholesale operations.
We specialize in connecting emerging, progressive labels with independent retailers all over the world. We are the only platform that is focusing on providing opportunities for younger brands to gain exposure and maintain control over their wholesale business.
The Group Buy page is our most unique feature on the site. We are exposing our designers’ orders in real time on the site to encourage new buyers to purchase their items. For example, if a buyer in London sees that a store in New York is buying a bag, they are likely to want to join the order. Buyers, just like consumers, want to know what is trending and be able to react quickly.
Additionally, our Group Buy offers designers the ability to meet their minimum order requirements by allowing a group of buyers to collectively purchase an item. This allows designers to gain wider distribution while maintaining their production minimums.
2. Jill Sherman and Alain Miguel are the co-founders of this platform. What can you tell us about them?
We are lucky to have great leaders here at Modalyst. Both Jill and Alain come the fashion industry and bring different perspectives to the table. Jill has been in fashion for 11 years, managing the buying team at Harvey Nichols and merchandising for Prada.Alain spent 7 years at J.P Morgan and designed a successful polo collection while an undergrad at Yale.
3. Can you explain us how did they come up with the idea of creating Modalyst?
Modalyst was born at MIT, an unassuming locale where fashion and technology collide. While a buyer for Harvey Nichols, Jill was frustrated by the expensive and tiresome trade shows, where designers' minimums were high and department stores got better pricing on merchandise. It was difficult to compete against stores which could buy volume. Modalyst was launched to level the playing field for smaller retailers, where aggregated orders become market power for indie stores.
4. Which is your role in Modalyst?
I am Head of Designer Sales at Modalyst which means I get to work with all the amazing and inspiring brands that join us! As a former womenswear designer myself, I am very aware of the frustrations that come with finding stores so I love being able to offer a new and improved approach to connecting with retailers. We look for brands that we feel passionately about and are the right fit for Modalyst. For someone who loves fashion, this does not qualify as work- I am constantly inspired by the brands I speak with and motivated to help them grow.
5. Modalyst’s main offering to registered designers is the opportunity to connect with interested buyers around the world. What’s your marketing strategy to reach the buyers and what other services do you offer to the designers?
Modalyst is an open platform which means once a member, you can see all the retailers and designers on the site. We feel strongly that designers should have the ability to prospect stores (and not just the other way around)! For example, we allow designers to “follow” any retailer they are interested in connecting with. If the retailer reciprocates, a line of communication is open. We differ from a typical showroom in that we are providing tools to designers that they can use to market themselves and communicate with the buyers directly. We just act as the facilitator.
We are constantly looking to engage the retailers on the site. In fact, we send a daily digest to buyers to update them on all the designers that they are following including new items that are uploaded and any products that are in the Group Buy. We also have a Retail Relationship Manager, Elyse, who is speaking with several stores on a daily basis to educate them on our new designers and products that might interest them.
Beyond the sales channel, we offer designers a comprehensive wholesale management tool that includes digital, clickable and customizable linesheets, inbox communication and organization of all previous, pending and current orders so they can track their progress.
6. Which is the reach of Modalyst right now in terms of number of buyers registered and from which countries? How many of them are from the US? Any interesting market apart from the US?
We have over 3,000 retailers currently on Modalyst representing 75 different countries making us a truly global platform. 60% of the stores are located in the US they so this a great opportunity for international brands to get exposure to the American market.
Additionally, we have seen increased interest from Asia and Australia which are two very interesting markets for us.
7. Which are the requirements you ask for to all participating designers?
We curate our designers based on their branding, products and experience. The designers that do the best on Modalyst are those that have quality products with high res imagery and come with at least two wholesale accounts. The platform works best when the designers are engaged and understand how to properly communicate with retailers.
8. What can you tell us about the future plans for Modalyst?
We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline here at Modalyst! In fact, we recently sent out a survey to our designers and have already begun to roll out features based on their response.
For example we are working on developing our matching capabilities on the site. Currently we have items that are suggested to retailers based on things they are buying as well as suggestions to designers as to which retailers may be worth “following.” In the near future we would like to go even further and use the data we have collected to make more specific recommendations to both our designers and buyers.
We are also looking to develop content more regularly. For example, writing stories on seasonal trends to offer retailers not only products but also advice on how to merchandise those products in their stores. In fact, we have a partnership with one of the biggest trend forecasters in the US that will soon offer sophisticated analysis of the upcoming trends to our members.
9. Modalyst targets mainly emerging and independent designers to showcase their collections through its platform. How would you say the market is evolving for these independent designers in the US?
That is a great question- I think the landscape for these designers is changing dramatically. When I was a designer there were only two ways to get into stores- either set up shop at a trade show or hire a showroom. Now, with tools like Modalyst, these brands have an opportunity to reach an audience that is a better demographic for their collection and at a much more approachable price.
We are seeing younger independent designers with unique products become more and more popular around the world. The smarter the consumers become, the more difficult it is to sell them things that everyone else has, so we are seeing stores actively looking for new edgy brands. Modalyst allows stores to not only discover these brands but also be the first to market with our shorter lead times and flexible minimums.
10. And specifically for emerging designers from abroad wanting to enter into the US market?
In the past, the only ways for international brands to find US buyers was through tradeshows or showrooms which can be exclusive and exorbitantly expensive. Additionally, both strategies tend to focus on domestic network with little to no international reach.
Through partnerships like Beiñ + Modalyst, designers can now use the success they have found domestically and leverage it through our international platform to find US buyers.
Sunny day in Central Park with an amazing dress of Beatriz Peñalver. Starting a spring morning in the big apple. Model and photographer are ready for the shooting after choose the best places and wonderful corners in Central Park.
You can find some pictures of the collaboration coordinated by Beiñ. We want to thank you and say congratulation to Erika Clayton and Verónica Peña for this job.
The shooting day...
12.00 pm Starting in the lake
12.15 pm Small details sometimes are most important
12.20 pm Our model needs a rest
12.30 pm Coming back full of energy
12.50 pm Enjoying the views
13.00 pm We are ready to go to the Brunch
If you like this dress you can find it in our On-line Shop, the model is wearing a M size.
By @cuquita86 for @beinfashionspain
Arthur Mandel from NOLCHA FASHION WEEK
Nolcha targets emerging and independent designers to participate in its runway during Fashion Week. How would you say the market is evolving for these independent designers in the US?
The USA market welcomes independent fashion designers. Retailers, stylists and media are interested to see global talent and support the varying designs. From cost effective collaborative platforms like Nolcha Fashion Week to pop up shop opportunities and designer specific coworking spaces the market is becoming very viable and affordable for independent fashion designers to evolve into the USA market.
And specifically for emerging designers from abroad wanting to enter into the US market?
As I mentioned above there are more and more services launching that target the needs and provide solutions for independent fashion designers; making it easier for brands to enter the US market. They do need to ensure that they research correctly what they are looking for and work with a company on the ground that can assist and guide them.
What got you to work in this sector and build up Nolcha?
Kerry Bannigan, my business partner, and I realized that there was a market to provide a cost effective professional fashion week platform for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections during New York Fashion Week. Whether it is a runway show or an exhibition we understand the importance to hold an industry standard event to introduce your collection properly media, retailers and stylists.
What does Nolcha offer to independent designers?
Nolcha offers a turn-key solution for independent fashion designers providing them creative support leading up to their runway debut as well as guest list management. On the day of the event we handle hair, makeup, models, lighting, sound and all of the items required to deliver a professional runway show to industry guests.
How does Nolcha connect the participating designers with the fashion industry (in terms of buyers, media, etc.)?
We run a heavy marketing campaign leading up to the show introducing the fashion designers via our website profiles, interviews and social media. Simultaneously event invitations are sent to the media and retailers. At any time these prospective leads can contact the designers to discuss relevant business opportunities.
Are there any specific requirements that all participating brands should have?
In our application process we are seeking saleable, scalable fashion brands that have a strong understanding of the importance of the business of fashion. Of course we are interested in the look, cuts and styles of the brand but beyond this we want to showcase and launch brands into the USA market that can be sustainable businesses.
Participating in a runway like Nolcha is a great start-point for new and upcoming designers, but what other things would you say are key to succeed in the US market?
You are correct that showcasing at Nolcha Fashion Week is a great launching point and introduction of a brand to the industry during a key time in the US market: New York Fashion Week. It is important to have representation (hired or internal) in PR and sales to maximize the contacts created when showcasing; as well as to continue the daily business of fashion. Connecting with retailers and understanding manufacturing here if you wish to produce in USA.
You are one of the two heads and masterminds of Nolcha. How would you describe your role and Ms Kerry Bannigan’s? What are the key factors each of you bring to the table that make Nolcha so successful and attractive for independent designers?
We both wear many hats, being owners of a business it come with the title. Kerry works with the designers, public relations and media. I work with the partnerships, sponsors and business development. However, what makes it successful is that we can help each other in either field. By being an independent company we understand what designers have to go through to make it having to do all aspects of the business not just designing a dress.
All emerging designers are young entrepreneurs and you are an entrepreneur yourself… Some words of wisdom to share with them?
Sonia Olla, flamenco dancer and owner of the brand Taller de Artistas
When you think about the essence of Spain, your mind goes immediately to the South: the sound of the heels, the movement of the arms, the musical notes of the guitars, the smell of tapas and the most important thing: the strong and classy style.
Sonia Olla was born in Barcelona, but her southern roots are the most distinguished in her presence. She has worked with some of the most important figures of the flamenco industry in Spain such as Antonio Canales, Rafael Amargo or María Pagés.
After a while, she decided to go solo and move to New York City, where she has showcased some of her dances both alone and with her husband, one of the greatest flamenco singers in the Spanish panorama. They are quite an international family and have participated in shows all around Europe and the US.
For Sonia, the most important thing is to extol the brand ”Spain” and its culture all around the world, as well as making feelings grow on people’s heart when they see her shows.
“Taller de artistas” by Sonia Olla, a parallel project in which she is currently working. As we previously mentioned, Sonia has southern roots as her family is all from Granada. Her family has always sewed and create fabulous flamenco dresses for her, growing envy between her colleagues wherever she went. Now, after seeing the real potential for their collections, they have decided to develop the brand “Taller de Artistas”, something like “Artists attelier”, a brand made in Barcelona but with a clear southern vision.
“Hand-made art in movement”, is how Sonia Olla describes the project and all the creations that her family comes ups with, and of which she is the first and most important brand ambassador.
What is the philosophy of the brand?
All the designs show the Spanish spirit, the Andalucia soul. The designs get inspired by the old flamencos, but they try to combine that classical inspiration with a more modern cut. Most of the designs are actually directed by Sonia herself, as she says flamenco is her life, it’s what moves her since she was born.
Her celebrity crushes are Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Moss, two of the most important fashion it-girls of the time, an influence you can feel looking at her own designs.
The evolution of the brand since it was born has been amazing. Adriana Lima for example, another great example within the flamenco panorama, has worn one of her designs!
The conviction and energy with what Sonia explains us the collection reminded us the concept of wearing an art-work everyday, which is the aim of Taller de Artistas: wear an urban and a trendy outfit, which makes you feel “passionate, energetic and elegant” at the same time. When you listen Sonia talking about both the brand and her work as a dance, you realize that her attitude in front of life is what has made her succeed and you will vibrate with Taller de Artistas designs as much as she does.
When talking about her career, she kept repeating that she has managed to fulfill the American dream, something she would have never imagined. The next step would be to bring that American dream also into the Taller de Artistas team by making a success of her next collection in the country.
Would you like to become part of that success?
Stay tuned with Beiñ as we will bring you their collection very soon through our shop online!