Real Talk: Local designers stepping on other local designers

When I moved to Hamilton, Blackbird approached me and asked to feature my designs in their store. I thought it would be a great thing for With Love Lingerie, but I am fully aware that lingerie is often a hard niche to mix with ready to wear in smaller communities. They offered me a consignment setup, and to be honest , that is not something an established brand like With Love usually participates in. But, I know Blackbird is a small boutique and I was willing to give it a try. I admired the Blackbird story, their boutique and of course their cute “girl gang” t-shirt.

Flash forward; the lingerie did not sell well. But my eye for great textiles and classic cut cover-ups sold through each month. When Blackbird asked me to remove my item because they did not sell, honestly I was relieved. So much of my stock was tied up there in the dreaded consignment agreement so I happily and amicably picked up my items.
However, I was in the boutique the other day (as I said we parted amicably), my eye went to one of the distinct fabrics I had cut my kimonos in this past summer/fall....Lynn and Kerry must have decided it sold so well that instead of asking me to bring more of those specific kimonos for consignment or actually buy them from me wholesale, they would cut kimonos/cover-ups themselves and sell them. My eye caught the particular kimono quickly because this is not a textile that fits the typical Blackbird aesthetic. In case you are not aware, that is what a lot of factored in China do to small companies and in my 15 years in fashion, I’ve rarely seen local designers do this to other local designers.

This may seem like a small thing to a lot of people, but for a company that prints “girl gang” t-shirts and is quite vocal about trying to get more support for local fashion this type of thing shows that Hamilton doesn’t really have a fashion community. Collaboration is the key to navigating a difficult consumer climate, but if businesses in such tight quarters have to resort to these tactics perhaps the local self-proclaimed “premier designers” are more desperate than I though.

below is my duster and my kimono in the mustard fabric previously consigned at Blackbird. Modeled by my friend Lisa and her gorgeous horse Fritz