- Kristopher Fraser |
Amsterdam-based footwear company Filling Pieces has made its first foray into ready-to-wear. The collection marks creative director and founder Guillame Philibert’s first endeavor outside of footwear, and draws inspiration from his formal education in architecture. His end goal is to create something affordable, but still high fashion and athletic. His first ready-to-wear collaboration is currently on sale at Barneys New York, which has had a successful partnership with Filling Pieces for several years.
“Barneys approached us a year ago to do ready-to-wear,” Philibert said to FashionUnited. “It was a great chance to work with such a respected retailer.” For the designer, who has been hard at work on his brand for nine years, his ready-to-wear being carried at Barneys brings his entire love of fashion full circle.
When Philibert was 16 he took a trip to New York City where he visited the Guggenheim Museum, which of course was designed by one of his biggest architectural inspirations, Frank Lloyd Wright. After his museum visit, he took a trip over to Barneys New York’s flagship store down the street where he had his “Aha!” moment of falling in love with fashion. “There I was in one of the best department stores in the world. That was when I knew I wanted to do fashion,” Philibert said.
Guillame Philibert discusses new ready-to-wear collection with FashionUnited
As he began his brand, Philibert kept a strong principle of Wright’s in mind, “form follows function.” These three words would be the inspiration for his ready-to-wear collection, where he made a point not to just do good design that looked good, but made sure every detail had intention behind it.
To that end, he created a bomber with a pocket for your sunglasses, and he also placed a zipper on the cuff of several shirts so they could adjust to the wearers wrist size. The hemlines on several tops were also based on the floor plan of the Guggenheim. In very literal fashion, a graphic T-shirt featuring Frank Lloyd Wright is also part of Filling Piece’s first ready-to-wear collection.
While his first ready-to-wear line happened very organically, Philibert reminded us nothing in fashion happens over night. “The biggest challenge for us was figuring out are we ready for this,” he said. “After 9 years, it just felt organic, but most brands go from ready-to-wear to footwear, but going from footwear to ready-to-wear is much harder. For us it was important to stress that we are still bridging the gap between high fashion and streetwear.”
Philibert, who felt his company structure was strong enough to move full speed ahead with ready-to-wear, and with the guaranteed support of Barneys, moved forward with his latest collection. However, it still wasn’t without its challenges. He went from being able to do everything with one factory to learning how to deal with having factories scattered all over. Whatever he did, he made sure that no quality was compromised. “Barneys is so high end, so we had to make sure to match that quality,” Philibert said.
Officially launching last Tuesday exclusively at Barneys, Barneys.com and Fillingpieces.com, the brand’s spring/summer 2018 collection is already seeing excellent sell through. In contrast to some of his contemporaries, Philibert does not try to sell collections based on hype or trends, but, rather, he has a strong customer base who has been teased about his potential ready-to-wear for weeks via social media with quotes from Barneys and Frank Lloyd Wright.
After all these years, Philibert still attributes his success to the power of social media. “When I started 9 years I was doing everything by myself, including marketing,” he said. “I used Instagram a lot as it was still growing as a platform, and that was how I got the attention of certain retailers. Without social media, we couldn’t grow as fast as we could. The States is a big potential market for us right now.”
Aside from excellent social media game, Philibert attributes his success to storytelling. “People love stories,” he said. “If you can create a product with a story behind it, people will respond. In design school, I also learned how to problem solve and design things that would make the world a better place. It’s about product with a deeper sense of experience.”
Above all else, he hopes he’s done his idol, Frank Lloyd Wright, proud. “His design ideology is very important to me, and he’s one of my heroes,” Philibert said.
Price points for the collection range from 165 dollars to 480 dollars. The debut collection consists of spring/summer ready track pants, trousers and several jackets that effortlessly blend luxury materials with technical fabrics mirroring the brand’s approach to footwear.
Filling Pieces was founded in 2009, the brand's head offices are located in Amsterdam. They currently employ 50 people and have 500 points of sale worldwide.
Photos: courtesy of Purple PR