Jul 22 2013
Since 2007, the Capsule trade show has assembled the most trendy and provocative brands in the fashion industry. Several brands have “struck oil” since showing, and it has kept the best and most sought after brands coming back for more success. Wishes have been met thanks to the show, and dreams continue to come true today for thousands of designers and companies across the globe. With 12 shows in Paris, Berlin, New York, and Las Vegas, the Capsule show is the place to be to find the next hottest brands and trends in the fashion industry, and it’s all thanks to the three genius minds behind the show- (from right to left) Edina Sultanik Silver, Deirdre Maloney, and Minya Quirk.
The three ladies came together to create bpmw*** Agency in 2004, which is a full service agency that offers wholesaling, public relations, event planning, fashion show production, and more. Their impact on the industry since then has thus multiplied since the creation of the show. Menswear specifically continues to grow exponentially and is becoming even more of a profitable sector in many businesses, thanks in part to the Capsule Show. Brands take a lot of credit for their innovative, new designs, but it would all be lost in the shuffle without the proper showing every season. Let’s step away from the brands and highlight three individuals that help make numerous success stories possible.
Read ahead to find out how the trio got their start in the business, how they came up with the idea for the show, the state of menswear, and what’s to come.
So how do you feel about the state of menswear today?
Deirdre Maloney: Menswear is exciting! We’ve been riding the heritage wave for a few seasons and are now seeing designers break out and take a lot more risks. I’m particularly excited about what’s coming out of London right now, in terms of pushing the design envelope for men.
Minya Quirk: I agree it’s exciting. Men have been more willing to take risks with their style and it’s great to see that envelope being pushed in new ways all the time. I love that fashion and menswear is just another showcase for the equalizing of the sexes; I think it’s funny to watch dudes be fussy about the length of a short. It just amuses me. It’s not strictly a women’s game — I think modern men are expected to give a shit and consider their attire. The industry is bubbling. We knew it would happen, but it’s been exciting to watch and be a part of.
Edina Sultanik-Silver: As Deirdre mentioned, we’re spotlighting some really cool designers from the UK at our shows this season, like Katie Eary, Kit Neale, and Christopher Shannon just to name a few, and many of the looks they are proposing for next season are like nothing we’ve been seeing for the past few seasons. Menswear is where the fashion action is right now. Sales are booming, retailers are optimistic, and new ideas about retail, design and marketing are coming from the menswear world. We love seeing guys taking fashion risks, and SS14 is offering some truly innovative ideas for men.
So would you say that menswear is looking much better today?
MQ: The more the merrier, I say. It’s definitely better.
DM: I don’t think it’s better or worse, just different. Heritage is always going to be relevant, as it is tried and true and never out of style. Whenever there is political or economic turmoil, people tend to reach for what is safe. Cue the emergence of all things heritage, or heritage feeling in the recession in 2008. Now that things are looking better, people are breaking out of their cocoons and ready to flaunt their colorful wings!
ESS: Everything about menswear is new. Guys are shopping differently, retailers are stocking their stores in new ways, and selling via social media rather than strictly in-store. There are very few industries that can flaunt such a passionate fan base, which makes menswear even more interesting.
You mentioned social media, what other changes have you seen in the industry from your beginnings to now?
DM: When we started BPMW, menswear was just starting to get interesting. Guys were shopping more like women, in that they wanted something new, something unique, something collectible. Internet shopping made international fashion easily accessible. When we started Capsule in 2007, our target list was about 300 brands. Today it’s probably closer to 800, because there are so many more brands with good quality and compelling stories and as a result so much to choose from. As a menswear fan, it’s really exciting.
ESS: When we launched BPMW almost 10 years ago, there was no blogosphere, and no social media. Obviously the industry has changed dramatically, and the menswear scene is getting stronger, more global and more influential, thanks to #menswear, the blogosphere and social media. While trade shows like Capsule allow the community to meet up face to face several times a year, we’re now able to engage with one another, and with our consumers all year round like never before. We’re more of a global community, and even the smallest store or brand located in a remote corner of the globe can have an enormous impact on how men dress and shop.
MQ: The industry has changed in so many ways. The blogosphere and the rapid share of global information about fashion has changed the game completely. It has changed PR, retail, everything. From the time we started BPMW to today; the sheer difference in voice about our industry, the amount of coverage and consumer engagement, it’s just staggering.
Was there a period of time in the industry that you miss?
MQ: I miss a time when things didn’t come and go out of favor so quickly. I feel like the blogosphere has just made people hungry for newness, but at the same time, the rapidity of it makes things feel old so much faster. Fashion has always been cyclical but the wheel turns so much faster now.
DM: I do miss when companies did geographic special releases. So for example, you could only get a particular shoe in Japan, or in Europe or in the US. Back then you actually had to travel to those places at the right time, or know someone who was traveling, in order to get the unique product. There is still a little bit of that left today, but it’s usually because of licensing constraints.
ESS: Yeah, back in those days getting one-offs or unique shit really took some work. Not just a click of a mouse, or an overnight wait outside a boutique. You had to travel, network and research stuff if you wanted to get the clothes or shoes no one else had. Another really fun time was just a few years ago when blogs began really making an impact on the consumer and the industry. Capsule was the first trade show to engage the blogosphere in a meaningful way, and it was thrilling to be a part of the time when an old fashioned industry was propelled into a whole new way of viewing itself, and doing business.
A question from the entrepreneurs of the world, what was it like getting the company started?
DM: Starting your first business is like walking around blind folded; you just have to feel everything out and make your best guesses. We were doing everything for the first time; setting up an LLC, creating an operating agreement, writing contracts, pitching our services. It was like summer school where you cram in what you would learn in one year into a few months and it’s non stop.
ESS: It was a little scary to quit our awesome day jobs and take a leap of faith that we could build something big. We each knew we wanted to help emerging designers develop their businesses. Executing that vision took a whole lot of hard work, conviction and dedication to make it happen. Like Deirdre said, we often learned while doing, but the old days in our graffiti-filled loft in the Meat Packing district were some of the best days of BPMW.
MQ: We figured a lot out as we went along. We’re still doing that. It’s what makes doing your own thing both challenging and fun. And at the end of the day, really rewarding.
How did Capsule become an idea, and why did you want to do it?
DM: We started Capsule because of Ed Hardy. Or at least Ed Hardy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We had long felt that the tradeshow offerings didn’t adequately service or highlight our caliber of brands. As a buyer I hated going to tradeshows and having to search through tons of crappy brands to find the good ones. And as a sales agency we felt like our cool (but smaller and under funded relatively speaking) brands got completely lost in the midst of million dollar booths. After one particular Vegas show where our showroom was right next to an enormous Ed Hardy booth, with girls in sparkly body paint running around and air horns blasting every time an order was received, we vowed that this would be our last tradeshow and that we would find another option.
MQ: The air horn blew and I said “We can’t do this again! Ever!” Our brands were too good for it. And we knew others were too
ESS: We’d all been to enough trade shows in our day to know what was missing in the global marketplace. The industry was shifting, and there needed to be a place to do business that was in step with the new design aesthetic that was emerging. So we thought we’d launch our own.
DM: We ended up inviting a few of our friends, who had like -minded brands, to show with us the following season, and the rest is history.
How do you think Capsule has changed the state of menswear today?
DM: Capsule gave a sector of the market that was lost in the shuffle a platform where they could shine. By being heavily curated, (we still turn away more brands than we accept), we maintain a high level of quality and authenticity and when taken in aggregate, I think it really showed the industry what a force that sector of the market was.
ESS: Capsule has evolved into a focal point of the menswear industry and the diehard menswear fans. By creating a platform for like-minded brands to show their collections and meet with really great retailers, and the press, we helped develop a segment of the market that otherwise may not have developed in the same way, and made it possible for many emerging designers to build their businesses in meaningful ways. It’s more than a trade show, Capsule is a global community of menswear enthusiasts, creatives, and business people who love clothes, respect craft and tradition, and curate every aspect of their lives. I’ve met some awesome friends at Capsule over the years, and I believe that the community has gelled at Capsule events worldwide. It’s an honor to be a part of this highly influential group of people.
MQ: Capsule has become a major menswear event. It’s just a must-attend for all participants in the menswear universe. And that’s been great to see.