“When I was a child, I said to my parents, ‘I want to be in the fashion business,’” […]
Like most executives, he’s often found in business meetings discussing the latest plan to keep the company prospering. Marketing strategies, new product ideas and possible collaborations are all topics of discussion. Listening attentively, he takes out his Moleskine notebook. According to The Wall Street Journal, the notebook is always with him, even at the dinner table when he and his wife are out to eat. A businessman, it is easy to assume he’s recording notes, jotting down profit margins and planning out new ideas. In many ways, that is true, but the pages aren’t written on. Instead of meeting minutes, travel plans and/or mental reminders, they’re made up of doodles, sketches and shoe drawings because this is what is always on his mind. Though odd, it makes perfect sense considering he’s the CEO of Nike. Despite having never attended art school, 60 year old Mark Parker is a visionary both inside and outside the pages of his Moleskine notebook.
At its core, Parker’s journey to Nike began with a dream. Perhaps daydream is better fitting. While studying Political Science at Penn State University, Parker ran cross country and track. Competitive and a visionary, Parker became obsessed with creating the perfect running shoe. As his passion for design grew, he started experimenting with various rubbers and waffle patterns. In addition to drawing, he glued the materials on the bottoms of his Asics shoes hoping for faster times on his marathon runs. Never giving up hope for designing the perfect running shoe, Parker started sketching various designs on graph paper, a tradition he maintains today. Not long after graduation, he joined Nike as a footwear designer in the research and design center located in Exeter, New Hampshire. Less than 10 years later, he became the Division Vice President, eventually going on to become the General Manager, Vice President of Global Footwear and finally, CEO in 2006. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, since Parker became CEO, Nike’s annual revenue is up 60 percent, profits have increased more than 50 percent and the brand’s market cap has more than doubled. It’s no wonder Parker was named Fortune’s 2015 Businessperson of the year. Ironically, he’s still into design just like he was during his college days, personally overseeing the brand’s emergence into the fashion industry, resulting in a larger range of high quality shoes.
Beyond his love for designing shoes, Parker is quite the art fanatic. His office, located in Beaverton, Oregon at the Nike headquarters looks and feels like an art gallery. In fact, there are more than 1,000 pieces of art in Parker’s office. The various collections, including everything from Murakami and Warhol to a framed insect collection to canvas art to Japanese robots to individual portraits of the avengers superheros to a painted cartoon of Abraham Lincoln by Mark Ryden. Having discovered his love for collecting art from childhood excursions with his grandmother, Parker loves being surrounded by large amounts of art as it provokes creativity.
“Being open and curious to the world through collaboration is a way to nourish and inspire our own creative culture,” he told Hypebeast, an online entertainment magazine. Admitting that he listens and perceives information better visually, Parker has as many art friends as he does athletes. “I’ve sketched since a young age,” he tells Designboom, a digital magazine for design and architecture. “…So there’s always been an artistic side, a visual side to my personality.” This is more than evident for anyone that’s visited or seen the CEO’s office eclectic office which has living goldfish built into a table showcasing more art, Parker’s sketches and photographs with friends and colleagues.
Part executive, part sports fanatic, part art collector and part designer, Mark Parker’s success is a result of a healthy balance between vision and collaboration. From the doodles in his notebook to his hour long discussions with athletes, Parker turns visions into products, designs into dollars and dreams into realities. Acknowledging the fickle changes that come along with sportswear, Parker focuses on the bigger picture and the larger vision. “There is this magnetic pull to focus more on the short term, the immediate, the quarter-to-quarter. And then there’s a sense of f-that, we are going to go out here and really create the future. And we need to do both. I have to live that tension,” he tells The Wall Street Journal. This same tension occurs between his doodles (often done in financial meetings) and the return in dollars. Beyond the tension though, are visions after visions brought to light and shared with the world. And anyone familiar with the Nike brand knows, the products are visions that the world loves.
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There is something special about a young man who, at such a young age, can put together genius collections of clothing lines ensembles that popularize like crazy, become an inducted member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and be crowned a winner on the ever so popular fashion designing reality show, Project Runway. Christian Siriano is this man. After winning Project Runway back in early 2008, entrepreneur, fashion designer and member of the CFDA, Siriano has been spending his years since doing big things in his career. His major successes range from the launching of his own fashion line, The Christian Siriano Collection, and the release of his first book, Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self. It surely wasn’t long after his big win that Siriano’s designs were making their a debut appearance at New York Fashion Week later in 2008. His career continues to move in a positive direction, as well as his popularity, but in order to find himself headed toward a fashion whirlwind he had to start somewhere.
Growing up with watching his mother designing costumes for his younger sister’s ballet, Siriano found himself surrounded by fashion at a young age as well as an interest that he longed to practice himself. He used this energy to work towards making his dream a reality. When the time to attend high school rolled around, He chose to take a step towards becoming educated on this new found love for fashion by attending the Baltimore School for the Arts, focusing on fashion design. His longing to find a creative outlet in what he did led him to places where he could do so. He went on to attend the American InterContinental University in London while also interning with renowned fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. With experience in hand, graduating from college only led Siriano to larger opportunities in his career.
First on the list: New York. Upon first arriving in the fashion capital, Siriano was unable to jump directly into the designing job of his dreams; having no money and being new to the city, he had to settle as a freelance make-up artist until he was able to earn some extra cash. Fortunately, Siriano’s broke, temporary make-up artist persona didn’t last very long; he was quickly back on his feet and working as a paid intern for Marc Jacobs and auditioning for Project Runway. His career was truly taking off in a positive direction and people were noticing.
2008 was not only the year of Siriano’s big win on Season 4 of Project Runway, but the launching of The Christian Siriano Collection as well. Six months down the road, Siriano had accumulated his share of fans which led to the launching of his fashion line, giving his fans their very own Siriano products to buy. During a Q&A with freelance writer and editor Kate Montrell, Siriano said “It was a quick rush jolt into the limelight with celebrities wanting my designs and so much publicity because of the show,” referring to life after the launch. Although with the pressure weighing down on his shoulders, Siriano had enough motivation to quickly give the people what they wanted.
According to the Christian Siriano official website, Siriano’s fashion line which is known for its whimsical designs, consisting of fantasy evening gowns, cocktail dresses, tailored sportswear, and intricately detailed shoes and accessories, brought in an estimated $5 million in 2012. The Christian Siriano Collection can be found in department stores and specialty boutiques all over the world, in an abundance of magazines, as well as worn by some the world’s greatest names in film, television, music and fashion. This collection was very much a significant accomplishment in Siriano’s fashion career.
A great deal of successes continued to go his way in 2012 following with the the opening of the first flagship Christian Siriano store in New York City as well as being inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Siriano also designs a bridal collection for Nordstrom, four seasonal collections for Payless ShoeSource, as well as being involved in other design partnerships with retailers. And if that’s not enough, the Christian Siriano fragrance and eyewear line will make its launch in 2014. One may ask how Siriano has accomplished so much at only age 27, and this is all attributed to the determination, passion and pure talent he has for the work that he does. Dubbed “a prodigy” and “the next great American fashion designer,” by fashion guru and Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn, Siriano continues to make enormous strides in his career continues to work towards affirming this statement.
Selecting new pieces to add to your wardrobe can be frustrating for anybody, especially the ladies. You’ve got to find the right style, color, it’s gotta be in season, and it has to fit a certain way. Believe me, I understand. After sitting in waiting rooms, going in and out of seemingly every store in the mall that sells women’s clothes, hoping that the lady I’m with hurries up, and having to remain quiet about my frustration with this process. Hearing those dreaded words, “Let’s run to the mall real quick,” and cringing all over because you know that there is no such thing as “real quick” when there is shopping involved. Not to mention that you were baited by the follow up phrase, “We can swing by” whatever your favorite restaurant is, because nobody turns down that opportunity, right? So after being in the mall all day, trying to save your appetite to Hulk smash at the restaurant, and you’re on the brink of what feels like your stomach eating itself , I truly understand.
Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. How difficult do you think it would be to make something that fits the criteria that we as consumers would want to buy? This is what designer Anine Bing experienced early on, and still managed to deliver a global women’s clothing line.
Anine Bing is the name and face behind the Anine Bing women’s clothing line. Since debuting in the summer of 2012, Bing has become a very successful brand. One of the things they have set out to do is provide new items more frequently than most of the competition. Ideally, designers put out lines each season. Anine Bing, however, has stepped away from the typical season to season method and chooses to put out a few new items from week to week.
Having new material so often works pretty well for Bing, by keeping the name relevant and constantly changing things up. Another thing that Bing avoids is limiting their creativity to developing things that are in season. While this is a seemingly risky move, today’s fashion is geared for people who love to take risks and break typical rules, which makes Bing right on time for this crowd of people.
The designer set out three years ago to make a line of clothing for women that live a life “on the go.” The kind of woman that likes to put outfits together on her own, and do so on the fly. She told Canadian based fashion publication, Style Calling, “My fabric choices are so important to me. The quality of the material I use in everything I design is important. The fabrics are very basic but luxurious. I work a lot in silk, linen and cashmere.” This line is full of pieces that are easily swapped out to suit what the customer has in mind. This allows the customer to create her own look by mixing and matching the different garments.
Who exactly is the person behind the name Anine Bing? Bing is a former model, which is how she was introduced to the fashion world. Bing used her time modeling to get to learn just about everything there was to know about the fashion industry. From properly setting up photo shoots, to fitting and styling, Bing was soaking it all up trying to find what her niche would be following her career as a model. After 15 years, Bing decided to call it quits and was ready to jump into doing her own thing. During her time modeling, she had dabbled in a few separate ventures before realizing what her new calling was within the fashion industry.
During her journey finding herself, Bing also found another creative passion: music. Bing joined a group called Kill Your Darlings. Later in the interview with Style Calling she said, “Music is like therapy to me. I love writing the music, singing, and creating it. The music is good for my soul.”
During that interview, she was asked if her music influences her design. She replied, “Absolutely. It has a very similar vibe. I use my music in the videos we create for the line. They go very well together. It’s that mellow, easy vibe with a little bit of a rock and roll touch – just like the clothes.”
The Anine Bing collection can be found in hundreds of boutiques across the country, or in one of the flagship stores. By next year, there will be several more flagship stores opening overseas to add to the one already in Belgium. For Anine Bing, business is definitely booming!
– Blake Holmes
Bold materials, heavy fabrics, intricate embroideries and distinctive designs are just a few of the things you will experience when visiting the House of Balenciaga in Paris, France or any of the hundred locations around the globe selling this esteemed brand.
One may ask how is it that one business can hold onto such a great deal of style and trend for as long as a century. It seems unimaginable because there are just a handful of companies in this world that are able to do so while remaining a running business with countless successful store locations and a strong customer base. Although it maybe rare, there is a man who made it happen. Cristóbal Balenciaga created a brand that has been up-and-running since 1918 and remains extremely prestigious to this day.
The House of Balenciaga is a high-end fashion collection that has been located at 10 Avenue George V in Paris, France since 1936, 18 years after its founding and its movement to numerous locations. The history that is embedded in this fashion house is remarkable and it is still growing.