"Business Matters" is the second of my three-part exclusive interview with vintage fashion maven Doris Raymond, owner of The Way We Wore and star of the docu-series L.A. Frock Stars on the Smithsonian Channel. In this segment, I interviewed Doris about the impact of LA Frock Stars, her collaboration process with designers, and her thoughts on my hometown Chicago.
What was your vision and goals with LA Frock Stars?
Doris discussed how the opportunity to do a television series evolved. She lived in San Francisco for thirty years and moved to Los Angeles ten years ago. Twelve to fifteen production companies approach Doris about doing a television show every year. She goes into her decision-making process in selecting her production company, why she loves the Smithsonian Channel and appreciates why they decided to take on LA Frock Stars.
Doris talks about her vision and goal in the television series in terms of her business. Her main goal with the show was to spread the gospel of vintage. From a sociological point of view, she had a strong desire to present vintage fashion in a documentary style show. As an anthropology major in college, she values the importance of textiles and fashion in history. With the added knowledge of vintage pieces and designers, customers may appreciate the worth of originality and craftsmanship behind vintage pieces.
She knew doing the show would not negatively affect her business. LA Frock Stars was sold internationally to approximately fourteen countries, BBC International and available on airline flights. Sky Vision is now selling the show internationally.
Doris speaks about her retirement plans and how, ultimately, the show’s success will help the business’ branding when she decides to sell her business.
“Clothing speaks history. And there’s a story to almost everything that we put on our bodies.”
What impact did Season One have on your business?
Since it has been two years since Series One, I asked Doris to describe the impact it has made on her business in terms of clients, marketing, and new projects as a result of the show. She states that Season One resulted in worldwide visitors who love fashion history and enjoy the show. An estate sale in Chicago featured in Season Two was a direct result of Season One exposure. Doris also was asked to be a guest judge at New Zealand's iD Dunedin Fashion Week, also a result of Season One.
Doris believes that Season Two will continue to broaden the store’s marketability and increase sales and expects Season Three to make the most significant impact on the business. Wait, will there be a Season Three?? Doris makes it clear: At the time of this interview, there is no commitment for Season Three. There are no talks, either. But, there are hopes. :-)
What impact do you believe the show made on the vintage fashion industry?
Doris discusses what impact she believes LA Frock Stars made in the vintage fashion industry. Although communication with other businesses has been mixed, she thinks most vintage dealers have appreciated the show for elevating vintage fashion in the mainstream.
“I feel blessed because I believe in abundance.”
A person who believes in abundance and is happy when others do well, she is delighted with the “good juju” the show has brought to people who watch the show and those in the industry.
What is your collaboration process with designers?
Not only does Doris own and operate The Way We Wore. She also provides inspiration resource materials to designers developing a collection. Local, smaller designers and up-and-coming designers like Lovers + Friends and Australian designer Nicky Zimmerman seek out Doris’ services. Department stores like JC Penny, specialty stores such as Forever 21 and J.Crew and couture designers including Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and Michael Kors have all consulted with Doris for collection inspiration.
Her collaboration process to cull pieces for an inspiration board depends on the designer. Some designers wish to view her store’s inventory for ideas. Others make appointments to view textile pieces, research history in her library or peruse in her inspiration room.
Designers may send Doris inspiration boards or even provide verbal cues of inspiration for a collection. With a week’s lead time, Doris and her staff can pull incredible pieces from the store, inventory not yet on the floor, items from the inspiration room or Doris’ office.
Doris thoroughly enjoys seeing how designers respond to the pieces she provides. The process also serves as educational, as designers at times inform her of why certain items may no longer be manufactured. Specifically, the Design Inspiration Room serves as a shortcut. The hard copy examples are used to save designers time and money.
Doris, Fashion Designer Consultant
There’s a service that Doris would love to provide but had not communicated much to anyone. Beyond being a resource for materials, one of the things she is hoping for is to become a designer consultant. With her highly respected eye and her vast fashion design history knowledge, she is more than qualified to make recommendations and provide input for designer collections.
Chicago has a special place in Doris' heart; it's one of her favorite cities to visit. We discussed her personal connections to Chicago, what she thought of the vintage fashion scene in Chicago and her personal Chicago favorites in boutiques, events, and interests.
Being a vintage fashion blogger based in Chicago, it was exciting to watch Doris visit this beautiful city for two adventures in Season Two. In "The Frock Market" episode, Doris scored BIG at an exquisite estate sale of a former Dior model. In fact, it was one of the top 3 best estate sales Doris ever experienced! The "Quest for that Special Dress" episode featured a rare selling trip of bridal gowns to specialty vintage boutique Silver Moon.
Describe the Chicago vintage fashion scene.
Doris typically visits Chicago twice a year for the Leslie Hindman auctions. Doris talks about the Chicago vintage fashion scene and where her business falls within this specific industry. Without being fully immersed with the Chicago vintage fashion industry, her impression is that it lies at the ends of two extreme spectrums: significantly less expensive vintage for the young and hip treasure hunters and wealthy women who dress more conservatively (i.e. Chanel and St. John). As this environment does not represent her business, she does not believe her business would do well here.
What do you love about Chicago?
Doris shares the things she loves about Chicago. She has an affinity with the city’s architecture, cuisine, the spirit of the city, people and neighborhood feel from the different areas. On her visits, she frequents diverse areas such as Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and the West Loop. She goes as far as to say she would live in Chicago part-time when the weather is right!
Doris Raymond - Frock Star Status (Part 2) - Business Matters
Stay tuned for the third and final part of the series Doris Raymond - Frock Star Status: What's in Store. We'll be covering her business advice for vintage dealers, her take on the fashion bloggers and the vintage fashion industry and how the future looks for her and the business.
For more information on Doris and her business, see The Way We Wore. LA Frock Stars Season One and Two are now available on iTunes.
Read Doris Raymond - Frock Star Status (Part One): Personally Speaking.