Outtakes | Kenneth MacKenzie and Matthew Miller on running a fashion business
Kenneth: That’s the thing people don’t realise, how much money it costs to do a brand. To do the wholesale thing, juggle cash flow and suddenly it becomes about twice a year, juggling the money to pay for this, to get it out to the shops. Whereas it should be, twice a year getting the ideas to design some nice things. And that’s when I got a bit of an issue. So now we don’t wholesale.
Matthew: Every store has different terms and conditions. The thing about the wholesale model is that it’s not a wholesale model based on your own choice, it’s a wholesale model based on everyone else’s choice. Is it 60 days payment? Is it 30 days payment? Everyone’s got completely different things. I’m spending all my time just filling out the paperwork.
Kenneth: And then it’s weird because in Japan the markup is 1.65 from wholesale to retail. The relationship between stores and brands is a lot closer. Whereas with me, because we’re making quite limited stuff in very expensive factories in England. I just look at it and go, we can have a better price for the customer. It’s different for different brands because we’ve done all that. It didn’t work out in the end. And I’m a lot older, so it gets to the stage where you don’t want to fight that fight anymore. It makes the brand narrow. But as a model I think what we’re doing now is quite modern.
Matthew: It is a modern model and it fits the modern way of consuming information. Because if you’re constantly working with other people you’ve constantly got a new angle to what you’re doing. Instead of being consumed twice a year over the internet, you’ve got six projects so it’s once every two months. I think that’s what people expect nowadays.
Kenneth: They do. the one thing I hear about is the saturation of brands. Certain brands come out and everyone’s really into them and then they get there and, especially with brands that are more expensive, that gets to be really difficult for them. They’re doing this really beautiful product and then everyone’s like ‘you’ve sold to too many people’ and they’re like ‘do you realise how much this costs?’
Matthew: It’s that new thing of exclusivity to stores. ‘I want this exclusively’, what do you want me to do? Just work for you making fifty pieces a year? Do you wanna pay the whole studio’s rates?
Kenneth: That’s one of the big balancing acts now. To try and do things, we just did a really cool Ventile jacket, tape seamed in the UK. Two of the guys we’re doing it for are blog-cum-stores. They’re getting different coloured zip pullers for their ones.
Matthew: That’s all people want. Exactly that. I’m balancing the colours of different fabrics in different regions ‘oh you get a blue, you get a black’.