"People are getting tired of the same old names," says Logan Reed, the sole founder of a new online shopping destination called Circe New York. The site, which operates with the same trunk show business model as larger companies like Moda Operandi, aims to bring new, emerging designers above ground and into the e-commerce playing field. It launched at the end of September with five New York brands including Barragan, Bror August, Eric Schlösberg, Gauntlett Cheng, and Vaquera — all of whom showed off-the-calendar for Spring 2017, but are quickly gaining the attention of editors, bloggers, and local cool kids alike.
Reed, who is 25-years-old and moved to New York City when he was 19 from Charleston, South Carolina, hopes to attract a younger customer interested in kinky PVC vests, graphic t-shirts with a political leaning, and couture burlap mini skirts for $200. But also those same people who are visiting Moda Operandi, Net-a-Porter, Ssense, and other luxury e-commerce websites looking for fashion that's both quality and "cerebral," as he describes it. Here, Reed elaborates on how and why the project began and where he sees it going in the future.
How did you choose which brands you wanted to feature and what was the process like working with them?
I wanted to work with brands that I personally believe in and felt deserved a more broad recognition. Being married to an emerging designer (Eric Schlösberg) and being friends with so many hardworking creatives, I saw first hand the struggles and disappointments that many burgeoning brands experience. I think there's an absurd over-saturation of "luxury" goods here in New York and online. There are a handful of e-boutiques that offer the same brands, the same styles, the same establishments season after season. I personally feel people are getting tired of the same old names; the trend-based, logo-centric houses that struck commercial gold and are mining it to death, passing their watered-down trends back and forth until it's suddenly uncool.
How do these brands relate to one another? How would you describe the New York fashion underground community right now?
The Antwerp Six transcended the line between avant-gardism and commercial viability in a way that completely usurped the established idea of what constitutes style. But that was thirty years ago, and there has yet to be a collective of creatives who have managed to put a city on the map in they way they did when they went to London and Paris. That's what inspires me about the New York designers Circe is hosting. There's such a sense of community between them. They support each other. They combine their resources and promote each other's work in a way that is mutually beneficial. New York has so much unique talent right now. Any editors or buyers that skip New York Fashion Week because they don't think there's enough to see is doing themselves and the industry at large a huge disservice.
Who do you think your customer is? Or who do they hope they are?
Our customer isn't concerned with following trends or buying things to become part of some sort of elite group of garment owners. The way that fashion is currently perceived through the lens of social media and the god-awful pay-to-wear celebrity endorsements and such practices is really alienating people who buy fashion because they love it. While the fashion industry is inherently very surface, the last few years have commercialized the art form of making clothes into a bit of a circus. At Circe New York, we aim to offer quality, cerebral products that speak to people who don't subscribe to the idea that they need to be told what to wear. You like it? Buy it. You don't like it? Don't buy it. It's very simple, really. Through the preorder process, we allow the customer to buy pieces that are made specifically for them. It has a special feeling to it. You aren't buying something that was calculated to fit into an established purchase budget. The garment is yours, from start to finish.
What made you want to start this now?
I wanted to start this now because the last two years have been a major turning point in the amount of work being done in New York. For a few years, there were very few emerging designers here: HBA, Ammerman Schlosberg, and Eckhaus Latta began around the same time and their growth was quick and impressive. Now, there are a handful of new brands every season and it's really exciting. The work being done now is unique and is establishing an aesthetic that I see only here in New York. For several years, the focus was on the emerging design community in London, which I personally am a huge fan of. But the limelight has been on London for a very long time and those brands can no longer reasonably be considered "emerging." It's cliché, but I wanted to think globally and act locally and the time was just right to create this platform to usher in the new era of New York design.
How do you hope to expand the shop in the future?
We hope to grow with each successive season, with plans to offer a wider range of products (those that follow the fashion calendar and those that do not) including jewelry and other accessories, as well as plans to expand our offering to talents based in other cities and countries.
Would you ever open a brick and mortar store?
I would absolutely love to open a physical store in the future, but measured growth is very important to me. There is a lot of risk of taking on too much too soon and I'm inherently cautious. There are quite a few growth opportunities that we would want to take before considering opening a physical store. We want to offer a wider range of products to include jewelry and other accessories and brands that don't necessarily follow the fashion calendar. There's a never-ending list of things we can offer to our customers and the last thing we want to do is rest on our laurels.