Target has garnered serious attention for its string of successful designer collaborations, the latest of which is offering the swoon-worthy designs of Prabal Gurung at less swoon-inducing price points. (Even fans who can afford the originals — like Zoe Saldana, for example — can’t wait to get their hands on them.) JC Penney has followed suit, and tapped Nigerian-born and MObama-favored designer Duro Olowu for a new collection, centered around the colorful prints and rich textures that have propelled the clothier to international fame, and earned him accolades like Best New Designer at the British Fashion Awards in 2005.
Olowu sat down with The Daily Front Row to discuss the nuts and bolts of achieving success in the fashion industry, and how pleased he is with the ultimate results of his collaboration with the long-standing department store. “I loved [CEO] Ron Johnson’s vision from the beginning, and then when I went through the new store concepts, I was blown away by the layout,” he said. “The display model is a real, conscious presentation. It’s great to see someone who really gets it.” It doesn’t hurt, in his opinion, that “JCP has integrity. They’re also nice people.”
He also addressed the issue of diversity on the runway, something that’s deservedly getting a fair amount of buzz these days:
“What I’ve always loved about fashion is that we’re constantly inspired by other cultures and using their ideas and techniques to create something new. But that’s where it ends lately. The industry is much less diverse than it was in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, and I think that’s unfortunate. This reluctance to use not only black models but also those from diverse cultures is baffling. I find it hard to sit through a runway show that has 40 looks and every model is white. Beauty, like style, is international.”
Olowu’s collection will feature everything from clothing to stationery, and we’re pretty excited about the accessories — he consulted heavily with good friend Iris Apfel in that department, he says. The wares will be available for purchase in stores and online next month.