This week as we prepare to launch the second generation of our Warm Weather Collection, I thought this would be a fitting time to revisit the way our collections are structured, why we do things this way, and give a little refresh on how our process evolved over time. I can't wait to share our updated Warm Weather Collection with you! Linen Gauze launches tomorrow, and the rest of the collection in Midweight Linen and Silk Crepe will launch in June. Read on to learn about all of our collections!
When I first started Elizabeth Suzann, I released seasonal collections like all other designers. With the changing months, I'd design and produce new styles, phasing each collection out as the new one launched. This was creatively rewarding and fun, and it was the landscape in design at the time. But as time moved forward, I became disillusioned with the idea of pulling down styles that were still selling well just for the sake of newness. I also felt like the pace was unsustainable for me - there were garments that I hadn't perfected yet, especially as customer feedback rolled in from folks who had time to wear and live in their garments.
The concept of a Signature Collection was born out of this feeling - I wanted to create a home for styles that felt like they belonged with us for more than a season. These would be our most versatile, most functional, year-round pieces. Over time with more attention and feedback, we could make small improvements and tweaks to the style, fit, and construction. These styles would get a real shot at a long life and only get better with time. And, it's worked! I have purchased a few of our original garments from eBay for our archive, and it makes me so proud to see how far we've come in terms of technique and precision. The fit and craftsmanship of styles that have been with us for years are truly impressive - like a good bottle of wine, they're getting richer and deeper.
The launch of our Signature Collection also gave me space and time to breathe and relax creatively. There wasn't a constant, tugging pressure to create new, relevant work - I could work on what inspired me, knowing that we'd always have a solid foundation of good products bringing in steady revenue. I did continue releasing seasonal items to complement our Signature Collection for another year or so, but ultimately all of the elements that made our Signature items so magical drove us to make an even bigger shift - things like customers being able to plan and save up for a garment over a few months because they knew it would still be available, a long-selling window providing good ROI so we could invest in expanding our sizing or more comprehensive imagery, and longer-range data and feedback to help us really perfect styles. We eventually wanted this to be how our entire product line operated, not just our core Signature Collection.
In 2016 we began transitioning our entire model over to a more long-term, generational structure. We launched our Cold Weather Collection and our Warm Weather Collection, which have the same ethos as our Signature Collection but are targeted towards warmer and cooler seasons or climates. These pieces are still versatile, transitional, and just as functional as the workhorse garments in our Signature Collection; they're just a bit more suited in fabric and silhouette to different temperatures. They are also intended to be as long lasting and evolutionary as our Signature items, so if there is a coat or pair of shorts you love, chances are we'll carry a version of it well into the future.
There will always be unexpected challenges, and of course, there will be change over time, but the spirit of longevity is at the core of our collection structure. Our Cold Weather Collection, for example, had to be pulled down because our wool supply chain broke down. We've been working for the past year to establish new relationships and develop a wool material we're proud of, and we're almost there! Once we get it finalized, we will re-launch the collection, and hopefully it will be around for good.
Our Warm Weather Collection is entering its second generation, which is how we make updates and let styles evolve over time. When it's time to revisit colors, evaluate the performance of a material, update or add sizes, or remove styles that aren't feeling right anymore, we update the collection and move it into a new generation. This lets us take a slow, comprehensive look at the garments and make objective updates as necessary. Many things don't change at all, some things change a lot, some things go away, and some new things make their debut. But, it's a very stable and healthy process that doesn't feel like a complete reinvention from scratch, which is how I felt designing a new collection each season. Instead, if I feel inspired about a particular style or silhouette, I can pour my energy into that without the pressure of a complete new range.
Those three collections make up the core of what we do. They are intended to be year-round groupings of classic staples - our best work. With generational updates, we streamline styles, fine tune fit, and evaluate our materials - making room for new work, improving current items, and pruning those that are no longer the right fit. We always provide plenty of time to purchase if a style or material leaves one of our three core collections, and we do our best to give those transitions enough time to happen gracefully and peacefully. Over time styles will evolve, and fabrics may change, but the core will always stay the same.
We will work on collaborations with other designers and will occasionally release limited edition styles, but for the most part we pour our heart and soul into clothes that we believe have the roots and longevity to hang with us for a while. I love the ability to dip into weather-centric design in our Warm and Cold Weather collections and flex those muscles, and also to have a central, universal home for our year round staples in the Signature Collection. I'm so thankful for the support y'all have shown us as we've built our company around this structure - your commitment to our mainstays and your understanding when transition is necessary mean so much to me.
In closing, I'll share a little more about each of these collections below, and what you can expect from them this year.
This collection, WWC for short, is centered around warm climates, with pieces designed for ultimate comfort and simplicity. Lightweight linens, floaty gauzes, fluid silks, and shapes rooted in nature that drape effortlessly on the body. Meant for sticky evenings, salty skin, and balmy evenings outdoors. Silhouettes that let delicious breeze reach your body, garments that tie and adjust based on the content of your day, and fabrics that spring and bounce with your movements.
The second generation of this collection launches in two parts - this week we'll be releasing styles in Linen Gauze, and in June we'll be launching styles in Midweight Linen and Silk Crepe.
This collection, CWC for short, is built for cooler weather. Ritual and comfort are at the forefront - garments that provide comfort, strength, confidence, but that also ask a bit of a question, leave a little to the imagination. Warm, thick and luxurious wools imbue a sense of safety and warmth. Familiar silhouettes are like old friends. Colors that are neutral and warm but near impossible to define - these give interest and spark to foundational clothing. Layers, jackets, barriers between your body and whipping winds and chilled air but also pieces of wearable art.
The second generation of this collection will launch this winter, once we've completed development on the material. We're working with a domestic ranch and mill to create a fabric that brings all our sculptural, tactile dreams to life.
This collection is the core of what we do. It’s our year-round grouping of classic staples - our best work. These garments are your favorites (and mine); they are foundational, seasonless, versatile, well-engineered, functional garments that tell a positive story about who we are and what we believe. To earn a place in the Signature Collection, a garment has to be highly functional and versatile in both practical and aesthetic terms. These are garments meant for real life - not to be treated as precious or coddled. These are garments that are ready to play an important role in constructing your environment and perspective, and we're confident they won't let you down.
The Signature Collection is in its fourth generation, and we have several exciting updates planned this year. New styles will be added this summer and fall, and we're working on an update to our cotton canvas (we've been doing some deep supply chain work that I can't wait to share). No more details now... but soon!
That wraps us up - I'll leave you with this, the first thoughts I wrote down about our Signature Collection a few years ago that still ring true today.
“What we choose to put on our bodies repeatedly is both an expression of how we internally define ourselves and simultaneously influences how we express those internal beliefs. I want to play an active part in shaping the story clothing tells about the modern human. That we are powerful, intelligent, caring, confident, and above all, have personalities, desires, talents, and abilities that are only highlighted and enhanced by the clothing we wear. Clothing that enables us to live life fully, comfortably, without self-consciousness or doubt."