When Malcolm Harris, one of the designers behind the Katsumi & Malcolm label which was once financially backed by Madonna, wanted to launch a new brand, he knew he needed to do something singularly different.
Harris is the man behind Cut, Sew & Blog which has got young fashion insiders and the blogosphere buzzing and is already spawning internet spoofs. By turning to web 2.0 technologies and using sites like Myspace and Youtube to promote his new label, Malcolm may be the first fashion designer ever to build his entire business strategy around the use of the Internet, as opposed to treating it as a cosmetic afterthought. He recently answered a few questions from the Business of Fashion to explain the rationale behind this strategy.
We first heard of Cut, Sew & Blog while perusing the comments in Cathy Horyn's On the Runway blog and then received an email from Malcolm himself, inviting us to check out the blog. When a commenter on the Business of Fashion mentioned the Cut, Sew & Blog again in our own comments, saying her young colleagues at Style.com were addicted to the blog, it was time to take a look.
Cut, Sew & Blog is a personal -- sometimes very personal -- look into the thoughts, ideas and inspirations that constitute Malcolm's world; the world of Mal Sirrah. From a detailed account of the breakdown of his relationships with Vogue's Andre Leon Talley and supermodel Naomi Campbell to the passion behind his support for the Designers for Darfur initiative to only showing his collection for S/S 2008 online, Malcolm has taken risks not often seen in the fashion industry.
To the contrary, many young designers are the product of carefully crafted PR images, designed to create a sense of distance, mystery and aspiration in the minds of potential customers. Instead, Malcolm has taken a completely different approach, going straight to his end consumer, bypassing the filtering roles of gatekeepers, fashion critics and the mass media. The result is a sometimes raw, often meandering and occasionally uncomfortable peek into Malcolm's world. But, it makes for a compelling read and his internet strategy is ambitious, thoughtful, and distinctive. We'll be watching to see how things progress.
I left the fashion industry for five years until my return in 2005. In my previous company Katsumi and Malcolm, I found myself enjoying a very successful business that no longer provided me with any personal or creative happiness. After dibbing up my soul between the investors, editors, buyers and celebrity clients, I felt as if I had been robbed of all power and strength. I could no longer live up to the brand that was quickly becoming my prison. So I gave it all up
This time around I am making a conscious effort to make a niche/sanctuary for myself that allows me to strike a professional, creative and spiritual balance. The current climate within the fashion industry is perfect for a brand like Mal Sirrah that focuses on our motto - Changing the World - One Dress at a Time.
3. You provide a very personal look into your thoughts, feelings and ideas through your blog. How does it feel to be exposed like that? Do you think it works in your favour?
4. Now that you are back on the scene, what one thing do you think has changed the most in fashion during your absence?
Photos and video courtesy of www.cutsewandblog.com.