An Inside Look at a Fashion Design Collective

by Marianne Salina
Fashion School Review Columnist

January 3, 2007

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What is the scoop on fashion design collectives - groups of designers who band together to create a fashion label? For many fashion design school students, taking on a career in fashion design as a solo artist is a bit daunting, especially considering the costs of clothing production, marketing, and living expenses all at once. Some designers, like the infamous As Four collective in New York, band together when they share a common artistic vision and a passion for fashion design. But while As Four may have found marketing their unique label a breeze, sticking together and avoiding the great Creative Clash proved much trickier.

Eclectic Group of Fashion and Apparel Designers
As Four formed their collective in 1991. A group of four international designers with fashion design school experience, their approach was one that New York had never seen before. From painting the loft in which they worked entirely silver, coining it "the silver cage," to sleeping together in one giant bed - the kooky group maintained the image of free-spirited creative bohemians, while still managing to produce some of the most recognizable designs in the last ten years. Think: Bjork's swan dress or the famous circle bag - imitated by designers everywhere.

Fashion Collective Approach Requires Compromise
Once As Four's label really took off, diverse visions and a cramped living /workspace made for a contentious end to the fashion collective. Finally, in 2005, one of the group members, Kai, left to design a label of his own: Myself. So what is the lesson to be learned in all of this? Besides perhaps the obvious caution about bed sharing, there's the invaluable rule of compromise. If your career in fashion design leads you down the collective path, be willing and ready to lay down some ground rules before you begin.

About the Author
Marianne Salina is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington. She writes about pursuits in education and degree opportunities.

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