Magazine May/June 2013 Femme Approach

01 May 2013, 15:00
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Femme Approach

It is no secret that Los Angeles is one of the most stylish cities in the country other than New York. The town is filled with a range of fashionistas sporting their casual jeans and T-shirts for a cup of coffee to those in tailored suits rushing to their next business meeting. In the same cross-cultural spirit, hipsters and minimalists call Los Angeles their fashion mecca. "Anything goes in LA, that is what is so fresh about starting a fashion company here. In New York, everyone wears black. In LA, there are opportunities for all sorts of designers," says young Los Angeles-based designer Sarine Berberian with the House of Sarine Marie. A third-generation designer, Sarine is bringing classic back with her one-of-a-kind feminine pieces in a world of uber trends and so-called designers.

A Current Fashion Business Model

Sarine Berberian’s family fled the civil war in Lebanon and moved to Paris to study couture tailoring. They catered to Lebanese socialites and Arabian princesses as did many Armenian immigrants seeking a new life in the mid 70s. “My grandma was a seamstress for oil tycoons while my father was tailoring high-end menswear.” The family worked together, they traveled together, they ultimately learned from each other. Migrating to the United States was rather comfortable due to in-house manufacturing and production being at an all-time high circa 25 years ago. When it came time for Sarine to build her business, she realized the industry had changed.

Manufacturers were outsourcing, designers were moving their companies elsewhere, and T-shirt labels were oversaturating the city. “I couldn’t use the old-school business mentality my parents were using. I needed to focus on running a business right now to stay afloat amid the competition and a tough economic crisis,” she says. The House of Sarine Marie came about in 2010 with two years of thorough research and study.“ I did a lot of trend analysis, which is forecasted two years in advance. I used exclusive forecasting tools to strategize my first collection. I studied consumer behavior in department stores and specialty boutiques to see what customers were buying and ultimately what they weren’t.”

While most designers’ approach to starting their first line is belief in their creative power, business today has shown that creativity is simply not enough. Social media, viral marketing and public relations are key components in building a fruitful brand. Sarine Marie has used her marketing degree to her advantage by involving bloggers, trade show outreach and a positive attitude on the present-day business trends. She also has learned the power of keeping her pieces American-made. “ I do not buy fabrics from China or outsource. Everything is made in Los Angeles, and I plan on keeping it that way. In 2012, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kick-started an initiative for designers that produce and manufacture in LA called, ‘Designed & Made in Los Angeles,’ intended to help the industry grow and thrive. The House of Sarine Marie is one of the 10,000 fashion-related companies proud to be a part of the movement. “If you’re not keeping up, you’re missing out,” she laughs.


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