Alexia Panza, the designer of Plum and the President of L’Officiel Enfant, is one of the inspiring people in the industry. I have had the opportunity to sit with her and share ideas on various occasions, and I always walk away feeling inspired. Recently I had the chance to interview her over the phone about her background as a designer and new line, Plum and without fail, she left me amazed and inspired.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I went to school for fashion marketing and for my thesis I had to come up with a company. So, since I had to two nephews at the time, Tommy and Andrew, so I decided to make a boy’s line for the project. At that time, there really weren’t any cool and classic boys line in the boutique realm. So, I end up thinking, this is actually a really cool idea. So, I started designing that line. I had Tom and Drew for about four years and also had Liv a tween girl line. We then transferred into L’Officiel Enfant, and it all came full circle. Now I am designing again, and that is what I am happy about.
Wow, so you had a few lines before Plum?!
Yea, I had Tom & Drew and Liv. It was sold at Neiman Marcus and stores through the world, such as Asia, Europe, Middle East and other places.
What do you think about the trends in kid’s fashion industry, like the adult looks shrinking to kids sizes and the mommy and me looks?
I agree that kid’s collections are working off of the adult collections. The reason I started Plum because one of the huge trends in children’s industry is simplicity. People are moving away from having tons of glitter, sequences, Lamé fabrics and stuff like that. We wanted to make a tutu that is very simple that a parent who wears contemporary lines, would feel they could put their daughter into this tutu. That’s why it is doing so well. Every little girl loves a Tutu. The Tutu’s a mix between a fantasy world and making their dreams come true. Also, going back to the parents, they won’t say, I can’t put my kids in this, they look like a clown.
How do you design your personal style as a designer?
I have two nieces, Olivia and Mia, I would say, they definitely have a lot to do with everything I do. I talk to them about it and see what they like and kind of go from there.
We know that it is stressful running a line, how do you deal with all the stress?
We have quite a big show, so we recently brought in, indoor cycling bikes. Our photo studio that has seamless paper is now doubling as a virtual training center because we have a projector. So, I can workout after work or during lunch, and that really helps.
What is your process when creating something new?
Basically, my mind never stops, I rarely sleep, and I am always going. What I usually do is, I follow a lot of influencers, bloggers and a lot of different realms, not just fashion. Pinterest is my best friend, I scan it for hours, and I start creating separate boards for what colors I am seeing, what type of flowers are popular right now and things I like. We recently just did something with sparkle lollipop that I didn’t even know existed. I do a lot of research on Pinterest.
What are some of the trendsetting blogs that you follow that you feel, inspires the market and yourself?
Oh, Happy Day (@ohhappyday) and Style Me Pretty (@stylemepretty). There are others but those two I think, have a huge impact.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully expanding Plum into an even larger line and having a store in New York.
What is your inspiration behind Plum SS17 line?
Unicorn and Mermaid are the two major parts of the collection. We used colors that are very tone down but some a little bit brighter, but everything is around pastels. So, we have like an orange, yellow, and like a mint aqua color sort of the mermaid part. The Unicorn part was like the white, the light pink, the gray and the purple.
Do you have any advice for those young designers who are graduating now?
I would say, get a job first. I did a lot of learning on the go. Not only from the design process but the also the business ends to the creative ends, to now I even make my own packaging and also, the sales end. I would also recommend, if they can, try to work for a startup, right out of college because then you get to see the ins and outs and how much work it actually is. It’s not just drawing pretty clothes. There is a lot more to it. So that is what I would say. Also, have as many internships as you can.
What designers inspire you?
The new line by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Cinq à Sept. They own Elizabeth & James as well. The collection is really about contemporary young, strong women and what they stand behind is really fantastic. You can find more about Alexia Panza’s line, Plum online at
www.iloveplum.com and on Instagram @plumnyc.