Chat With Vidya Narine from Le New Black

My initial introduction to Le New Black was via a podcast interview Fashion BS conducted. Intrigued by the idea of an online fashion trade show, I contacted founder Vidya Narine to find out more about the new venture.

NN: Explain what Le New Black is, how it works & why you felt there was a need for such an event?

VN: Le New Black is the first online fashion trade show. It allows registered brands to show and sell their collection an entire season online from the first day until their deadline of production, and to registered buyers to view and order collections online anytime from anywhere during the season. I used to organise RENDEZ-VOUS trade shows (Paris, NYC), the last 5 years, and could see the incredibly difficult organisation of the international calendar for brands and buyers. Trade shows and showrooms are everywhere on the planet, new markets and fashion weeks are emerging, new trade shows and showrooms pop up every season : it is very difficult for a brand to choose the right cities and event to show its collection, and for a buyer to choose which city, trade shows and showrooms they want to visit. It s very stressful and frustrating, and the sales calendar costs a lot of mony (travel, hotels, shipings etc.). I started thinking about this idea of an online trade show 2 years ago, I didn’t know how to do it but felt something was right about it. The idea was to connect the best brands with the best buyers, and for brands to extend the length and location of their sales.

NN: How important do you feel it is for designers to embrace the new wave of online media outlets?

VN: I think it s crucial for a brand today to find its way on the Internet. Some brands are going to create blogs, or wholesale showrooms or retail stores on their own website. Luxury brands (Dolce & Gabbana, Viktor & Rolf) now offer the occasion to see the catwalk in streamline, real-time, retail stores are popping up everyday. If even the luxury market starts thinking about it, it definitely means something! Also, everyone is on facebook or twitter today, which means that new strategies of communication are emerging from this new survey. Same thing for the press, the way journalists work is totally different today than what it was 5 years ago (blogs, social networks, online magazine). Concurrence and strategies are definitely changing.

NN: What makes Le New Black appealing to designers?

VN: The offer of Le New Black is –until today- unique. By registering with the first online fashion fair a designer will get a qualitative network of buyers (every buyer has to register, and is validated -or not- by us, depending on its positioning), his own wholesale showroom online with his own back office to create his collections and manage his sales, his own link to send to all his buyers and prospects to promote his collection, a guarantee of confidentiality (buyers have to be validated to access the showrooms, and brands can see only their own showroom). Also, we send a newsletter once a week to all our network of buyers, to inform them of the new brands they can find online.

NN: One important benefit of trade shows is the opportunity for prospective buyers to experience individual brands in real-time by being able to touch & feel the various qualities of clothing,accessories etc. Has this become a deterrent to buyers in any way, being based online?

VN: Since we launched Le New Black last June for SS10 collections, buyers had different ways of using Le New Black : they ordered collections from brands they never met but felt closed to, in terms of artistic direction and range of price, they ordered online collections from brands they ordered from before when they had to skip traveling, and also they confirmed their quantities online after the trade shows. We have one season behind us but I can say I was very surprised by the reactions of the buyers : they passed orders online quicker than what I expected. They passed orders from brands they never touched before but for most of the orders passed online, they knew each other from before. They still view and touch the collections at trade shows or showrooms, but use Le New Black before meeting the brands to prepare their selections, or after the trade shows to confirm quantities. But I think the work of a buyer is changing, they inform themselves through the internet, know brands from others stores etc, so sometimes when they can’t travel but they trust the brand they order online. Who could have imagined 10 years ago that people would buy Alexander Mc Queen dresses online on Net-à-porter? Also, Le New Black allows you to see all the details of a garment by zooming and all the details about the materials and production.

NN: What major differences do you see in the world of fashion in the US vs. abroad?

VN: From what I saw, the american market is FULL of interesting stores. 30% of the visitors of Le New Black are american ! Great stores register every day (retail online, department stores, multi-labels). And the fashion scene is full of talented designers and very inspiring and dynamic (Alexander Wang of course, but also Pamela Love, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, United Bamboo etc.). The CFDA seems to do an  amazing job connecting all of these designers with press and commercial realities. I felt a great energy from this fashion scene, and at the same time, the same weariness from brands and buyers who run from one show to another than what I felt everywhere in the world (europe, asia, middle east). The whole fashion industry needs alternative. The american buyers and brands are very open to Le New Black, and I am not surprised : internet came from you, and it s very natural, even with the retail online.

NN: What are a few tips you would give to new designers interested in showing their collections on Le New Black?

VN: To show your collection on Le New Black, let’s enter in contact. We need to know more about the collection and the distribution. If the creativity, quality of production, and network of buyers fits our selection, we will be pleased to welcome new brands. It is good to already have a good network of buyers before going online. Once the designer has created his collection on Le New Black, he can send his link to all his prospects and clients from them to preview the collection, and give it to every buyer he meets to promote his collection. The more you work with le New Black, the more you sell!

Visit Le New Black for more info. & to stay abreast on the new happenings via their blog!

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