It’s not often that fashion designers are as well-known off the runway, but when it comes to fashion designer and influencer Zac Posen, his endeavors into the world of award shows, galas and television are just some of what have allowed him to become a household name. His claim to fame is as couturier to the stars, constructing gowns of impeccable style and quality. However, recent partnerships have bolstered his career to new heights, including collaborations with Brooks Brothers, Google, Delta Air Lines and Ecco Domani. A creative innovator with a clear vision for the future, we caught up with Posen to discuss how his ambitious undertakings are transforming not only the business side of fashion, but the industry as we know it.
Born and raised a New Yorker, Posen knew from a young age that breaking into the fashion world was no easy feat. Posen explained, “Fashion is a major business and you have to realize that and take it very seriously if you want to be part of it.” At the age of 16, Posen took pre-college courses at Parsons School of Design and later received his degree in womenswear from the University of the Arts in London. Since then, Posen has been awarded the Swarovski’s Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear by the CFDA and has dressed celebrities such as Claire Danes and Katie Holmes.
Posen debuted his first collection in 2002 when he was just 21 years old, a show that was sponsored by Italian wine company Ecco Domani. Posen was named the first-ever recipient of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award, and his relationship with the company has truly come full circle with the opportunity to have designed their latest wine bottle. “It is gratifying to work with a partner that believed in you from the beginning and continues to support you throughout the years.” Posen dressed the limited-edition Pinot Grigio in a floral-inspired pattern to play off the flavors of the wine, a nod to a print he’s been known to use in the past. Taking his passion and talent for design beyond the confines of clothing, Posen trusts in the support that Ecco Domani has shown him. “This relationship is really synergetic, as Ecco Domani’s loyalty goes beyond fashion expanding into lifestyle and entertaining.”
This is not the first time, however, that Posen’s eye for detail and expert craftsmanship have been called upon. Just two years ago, Posen was brought on as the Creative Director for Brooks Brothers womenswear. The oldest clothing retailer in America, Brooks Brothers is predominantly known for their tailoring and posh presentation, attributes not unlike Posen’s personal aesthetic. Working closely with the design team, Posen’s position is to shape the look, feel and tone of each collection while maintaining the brand’s signature style. “I don’t think it’s about redefining the brand but injecting it with new flavor and flare,” Posen explained. ”It’s important to honor the heritage while tweaking things here and there to really appeal to a younger customer without alienating the preexisting ones.” Bringing his own unique perspective to an already established brand, Posen’s partnership with Brooks Brothers allows not only the company, but Posen himself, a chance at growth.
As one of the busiest and most influential designers of today, an important element of Posen’s success is figuring out which projects are worth pursuing and that in the end, will build business. “As a designer,” Posen explained, “it’s incredibly important to pick brand partnerships that will challenge you, but still align with what you inherently love to do. I try to pick partnerships that I am inspired by and that push me to explore the other creative facets of my mind.” Taking on roles that go beyond actual design, Posen has welcomed career expanding opportunities such as joining the “Project Runway” judging panel and creating his own cookbook. Forming these partnerships, Posen explained, not only helps to diversify one’s talent, but also allows access to a new group of customers.
Although the world of fashion and business can seem inherently different, having an understanding of both the creative and commercial aspects of the industry ultimately determines who is in and who is out. Posen has been able to walk this fine line, combining his innovative visions for the future with industry leading brands. “I don’t consider myself just a designer,” said Posen. “I never have. You have to bring more to the table than that if you want to be successful.”