After catching the eye of Michelle Obama, Anna Wintour and Emma Stone, one fashion designer to the stars is on a mission to offer high fashion at affordable prices.
Thakoon Panichgul, a 20-year veteran of the fashion world, has branched out on his own with a new direct-to-consumer women’s label, dubbed “Thakoon.” Each item in the line cost $225 or less, and Panichgul said is still made at a high quality that’s comparable to designer brands.
The way women look at high-end fashion has simply changed, according to Panichgul told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move.
“In this day, the consumer has so much more information at her disposal,” Panichgul said. “She’s able to kind of look everywhere and say you know what, that’s not how I want to shop anymore. The consumer perspective is completely different. She’s also more sort of aware of the price she’s paying for something. Anything above $500 she’s saying you know what, let me think about that. I’m not really going to pull the trigger right away.”
“There’s certainly consumers that are still spending at those price points, and they love to shop runway fashion... but more than not, there are a lot more customers in the mainstream that are really engaged in fashion, but they don’t have the same income,” he added. “We’ve got to be able to address them as well.”
While high-end fashion seems to continue to stay in style, more and more direct-to-consumer brands are breaking barriers. Company’s like Everlane, Frank & Oak and Outdoor Voices have all challenged high-fashion’s high prices — and have grown extremely popular along the way.
The right price
Panichgul said that his biggest challenge in achieving a successful direct-to-consumer line is nailing down the right price points.
“When you’re on the runway format you don’t really pay attention to the prices that much,” he said. “The fabrics you can buy are quite expensive. The shows that you put together are more expensive. You kind of look at the pricing after the fact. With this new model, in order to get to direct-to-consumer, you’ve got to pay attention to the price point. And you’ve got to say OK, how much would a woman buy this jacket for?”
Trade war impact
The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China has sent many different retail brands into a frenzy, but Panichgul said that dealing with the tariffs have helped him create stronger relationships with his supply chain.
“The profit margin does get affected,” he said. “But for me it’s really going to the source, going to the factories, going to the mills, and saying okay look, we’re doing something completely different, we are giving you scale, we are coming to you with a bigger production run, so can you work with us on your price point so that we can insure that we’ll have a longer relationship together?”
Will the price of Panichgul’s fashion go down if the U.S. and China strike a deal on trade? He said it’s fluid.
“There’s a lot up in the air. I think that some factories are coming in [saying] we recognize that this is a problem, so we’re going to help you offset with that, and some factories are not willing to budge,” Panichgul said.
Chelsea Lombardo is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. You can find more of her work here.