Patrick McMullan via Getty Image
For most people, September is the harbinger of fall—the “back to reality” in full force, after salty summer days and a boozy Labor Day Weekend.
But for Thakoon Panichgul, the designer behind the label Thakoon, which launched in 2004, summer Fridays have yet to enter his vernacular. “I haven’t had a vacation yet all summer - It’s been a lot of work getting everything sorted and ready,” he said over coffee at Balthazar in Manhattan on Tuesday. “We just opened a store, we launched e-commerce, we’re relaunching the business model with the show—it’s a lot.”
Panichgul manifests the change that’s afoot in the fashion industry – dubbed “see now, buy now,” it’s the revolution wherein designers are choosing to show in-season clothes (or at least select items) on the runway that will be for sale immediately, as opposed to six months after the fact. He's part of a movement, which includes Alexander Wang, Public School, Vetements and Tom Ford, who have gone rogue with their collections. Thanks to this rebellious and innovative group, we can no longer call this season “spring 2017” anymore.
Panichgul’s transition comes after taking a season off to reassess the brand and the business model. “I feel like it’s a time for change, but at the same time, it’s a time that’s exciting in fashion,” he said. “Because for the first time in a long time, I think that people can take ownership of what they want to do and really just do it. I mean, it sounds so, like, Michael Jackson, but it’s kind of true.”
His vision is being helped along by Bright Fame Fashion, the investment company helmed by Vivian Chou, daughter of textile mogul Silas Chou. After acquiring a majority stake in 2015, they set out to revamp operations, including a direct-to-retail approach, which brings distribution in-house and away from boutiques and department stores.
“You become the buyer, essentially; you become the voice of authority,” Panichgul said. “It’s refreshing. Designers always had to rely on what the buyers wanted to buy, and there’s a watered down effect of the designer’s vision…so now I get to play that role of having authority and having my voice carry through from the runway to the consumer.”
Thakoon clothing will be sold on the brand’s e-commerce site as well as at the new store on Wooster Street, which also houses Panichgul’s atelier—an old-school move in a new school business. “We’re digitally-minded, but we’re also a designer brand. To convey the message of a designer brand, you need to feel the experience of a store. It’s a touch and feel point, it’s a tactile environment,” he said. With four seasons a year – winter, spring, summer, fall – and six product drops within each season, inventory will never go on sale, and the limited runs will only be available for eight weeks.
So what does the new Thakoon look like? Not entirely that different from the old, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Printed separates reigned supreme, as did the chunky layered knits – highlights included tartan skirts, smart trousers, and a pink fur overcoat. The show, which was held on a rooftop in Dumbo with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, featured clothes that the brand's loyal fans have come to expect over the years. “I was thinking about cocoon shapes, so a lot of capes, translated in classic wool to faux fur and knit,” said Panichgul. “There’s a softness that comes through, but mixed with knits. I love the mix of romantic and light but then chunky and cool. So you’re going to see a lot of that play. There’s a moody romance, a lot of graphic black and white, with flats and socks. I’ve been using military as a classic theme.”
Going forward, the designer will focus on wearable pieces for day, with classic Thakoon elements like shirting and denim. He still plans to design one-offs for the red carpet, and as such, celebrities like Priyanka Chopra and Taylor Schilling who sat on the sidelines of the outdoor runway on Thursday evening.
“They’re effortless but graceful and feminine at the same time,” said Chopra of the designs. “You don’t feel like you need to be always uptight in his outfits. My style has to be comfortable.”
And while not every piece hit the mark – lace details on some of the dresses and skirts felt off-brand – the collection is sure to resonate with devotees. That is, if we can only figure out exactly what we're looking at. As one editor put it after the show, “I don’t know what season it is.”
Follow Thakoon for the 24 hours leading up to his show here: