Designers in the fashion industry are often confronted with the difficult task of both recognizing upcoming trends, capitalizing on what consumers want, and creating designs that appeal to both. It’s not every day that a mid-level women’s wear designer can maintain a presence in this type of industry. Creating brands across a variety of styles in the largest department stores in the country, Glenn Schlossberg continues to lead the pack (and he’s been doing it for nearly 30 years).
As a young entrepreneur, Glenn Schlossberg decided that he had learned all he could learn from working in his parents’ dress shops- spending time at every level of the production from conception, to production, to distribution. He created Jump Design Group based on the desire to do it better.
His goals were quickly rewarded, landing his first multimillion-dollar deal with Montgomery Ward just weeks after launching; he and Jump have evolved into one of the most successful women’s wear businesses in the country.
What is Jump Design Group?
Jump Design Group includes brands such as Jump, Annalee, and Hope, Blue Sage, Marina, Helene Blake, the Onyx lines as well as Tiana B. Brands are sold in nearly every major department store in the United States and several countries worldwide. Most recently, Jump Design Group acquired the womens apparel line, Susana Monaco.
Schlossberg credits much of his success to being able to recognize trends, to recognize when he plateaus on an idea, and to adapt to an ever-evolving industry.
With a focus on women’s wear, Schlossberg’s core products range from athletic to career casual wear and also plus, misses, and Jr.’s designs. Schlossberg is a collector of many things including watches, cars, and as it turns out designs.
Where Glenn Schlossberg Focuses His Strategy
Trends in the fashion world are tricky as they change by the season as well as the year, creating a feedback loop for designers who are always on the move chasing the next big idea.
This need to stay ahead of competitors while simultaneously staying on trend, works in tandem with Schlossberg’s inner drive for competition. Schlossberg is an avid race car driver and explains that he is always on the move about everything in his life. When he’s not thinking about racing cars, he’s thinking about racing ahead of his competitors.
Glenn Schlossberg utilizes this deep seeded need to push the envelope of what is possible and never be satisfied with his most recent designs (or his most recent race time for that matter!)
But Schlossberg also takes into account other factors that can impact what women want.
How Schlossberg Finds Inspiration for Design
Clothing and fashion aren’t created in a vacuum. Fashion has deep roots in art and is deeply integrated into the creative process. Glenn Schlossberg has been able to consistently develop products that appeal to a wide range of consumers by offering beautiful designs and fabrics at competitive prices.
Schlossberg taps into a gut feeling that he’s cultivated over years of reading the industry, an intuition for profit margins, and trends.
“Since I’ve been doing this so long I think I’ve created a sixth sense about what women want. Not only that, but I can tell just by what’s happening in the news. For example, after the stock market crashed in 2008, we were seeing that our brighter colors were tanking. More neutral tones and less ornate designs were making huge profits though. It was almost like what they were wearing was reflecting their mood.” Schlossberg recalls.
“People were scared about what was happening in their banks and this lined up with the clothing they were choosing. It was “safe” to choose more neutral colors than to go with bright patterns or colors.”
“Now I can kind of predict if a line is going to do well just based on the latest headlines. Right now we’re in a bit of an economic boom although that’s starting to come down again. But for the past several years clothing has become more and more ornate, artistic, and experimental. And our designs are like that too.”
“Granted some classic looks will never go out of style, for some of our newer designs we just look at the news and figure out what women might want to wear.”
Glenn Schlossberg and his designers also find ways of mixing both modern American styles with what he sees on trips he takes to Asia and Europe. “I really really believe it’s important to look to other countries for inspiration. Especially if you’re going to be in a competitive world market,” explains Schlossberg.
“This is one of the reasons why I travel a lot to Asia and Europe and meet with local manufacturers and shoppers. I never know what I’m going to see and I’m always surprised in a way that inspires me and my team for new looks. We design something like 20 dresses a day usually. When we’re on trips like this, we triple that.”
Schlossberg admits that there are very few designs that are entirely original. “There are no ideas; there are just new ways of doing perfect old ideas.”
And he relies on a few tactics to transform “perfect”old ideas into fresh new ones that can be ready to wear.
For example,adapting colors for a design that was popular in spring to be more fitting for the fall of emulating lines of a design to be more flattering to a broader range of body types or even just using difference fabrics.
Fabrics and patterns can be easily mimicked. As a midrange dress designer, Schlossberg loves to look at dresses that are much higher priced and find a way to make it more affordable to our customers without compromising the beauty of the piece.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Fabric for the Right Brand
When it comes to what women want, Glenn Schlossberg understands that fabrics that have some stretch in them, that are flattering, and that are affordable are more successful for their casual women’s wear lines, such as Tiana B.
But how does a leading women’s fashion manufacturer choose the right fabrics?
“Even though there are hundreds of different types of fabrics, at the end of the day when we’re talking about fabric and clothing construction we’re talking about two different types of fabrics: Knit and Wovens and when we keep it simple like this it helps us focus our ideas,” explains Schlossberg.
“A woven fabric is kind of like a weave in a basket where it’s all interlaced. It’s great for casual women’s wear because it tends to keep its shape longer and doesn’t have a ton of stretch, so women love it for work or more upscale events,” Schlossberg continues.
“With a knit fabric it’s usually one type of yarn or thread that’s interwoven back and forth kind of like what you might see in a cable knit sweater. This weaving gives it some stretch across the width of the fabric but not in length.”
Knit fabrics do tend to lose their shape and depending on what it’s made of can fade or present other challenges.
“When it comes to our formal wear, we like to use a variety of different knits to appeal to what different women might want to wear and how they may want to feel,” says Schlossberg.
“If we’re doing, like a denim for a jacket or something like that, it’s not going to have a lot of stretch in it unless it’s like a skinny jean that has some spandex,” Schlossberg clarifies. “Then again, there’s a lot of spandex that we use in our athletic wear. We really work with so many different fabrics for our different brands.”
When Schlossberg first got involved designing for women, spandex was a big deal. Now, many fabrics have changed and incorporate some amount of spandex within the weave giving it a natural stretch.
Key Differences Between Fabrics
Because there are as many different types of fabrics as there are types of dresses (i.e., a lot), it can be tricky to figure out the perfect material for the ideal design.
All fabrics are made from one of three different types of materials – natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic.
Natural fibers are often harvested, woven, and then knit into the fabric. These include familiar fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk, cashmere, wool, and even hemp fabrics.
Synthetic Fibers are manufactured in a warehouse and made of non-organic chemical materials. They include fabrics such as polyester, spandex, nylon, and acrylic. Interestingly, as a designer or manufacturer, if you stumble upon a new way of making a fabric, you can patent it and name it whatever you’d like. This is why there are thousands of different names for fabrics, but the main ones usually fall into one of the above four categories.
Semi-synthetic Fibers are made from wood pulp or bamboo or other natural materials that are then broken down and turned into a material that is then knitted into a fabric. Semi-synthetic fibers include rayon and lyocell.
Natural fibers tend to be more expensive and are biodegradable and sustainable. Synthetic fibers tend to be more readily available and often emulate natural fabrics to the best of their availability, but they are less likely to break down and can at times be more likely to rip or lose their shape.
When Jump Design Group begins the creative process of sourcing fabrics, they typically acquire a range of different fabrics in a variety of different patterns and types ranging from synthetic to natural fibers and incorporate each according to the trends and successes within each line.
“There are times that how the fabric feels can inspire a design. Or the stretch of the thickness can make us think of something for one of our lines,” says Schlossberg.
“We literally work with thousands of different fabrics from all over the world and what works for our athletic wear may not work for our casual wear and vice versa,” said Schlossberg. “Then again, sometimes we’ll find a fabric or a pattern that has the potential to be desired in many different ways which are really great,” he continues. “So we’re constantly updating our inventory and trying to find new materials because you never know when you’re going to find the one.”
Recently on a trip to London, Schlossberg met with several shoppers and designers to discuss trends for the summer and fall seasons.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of is plaids and pleats. And not the ones from the eighties that make a lot of women cringe. It’s a way more flattering silhouette. So we’re looking at ways of making this modern take on pleats and plaids with our designers so that we can be ready.”
Taking a Design from Idea to the Shelf
Schlossberg has one of the fastest turnarounds in the business. His Manhattan-based office and warehouse in the New York fashion district is home to about 200 employees and is about 20 miles from their manufacturing warehouse in New Jersey.
This proximity factor of keeping everything in his cycle of design within a 20-mile radius is what Glenn Schlossberg credits as being the core of his success.
“I can come up with a design idea like I do almost every other day, and within about 20 days or so it’s on the shelf. We’re one of the only mid-level dressmakers who can do this,” says Schlossberg.
“We’re also using some of the most cutting edge of technology to track things so we can get ahead of trends and see how things are turning around and where our profits are being made and what’s not working.
With many designers sourcing their manufacturing to countries such as China and India, the delay on shipping designs alone can sometimes take up to two weeks. With Schlossberg’s system firmly in place, he’s able to recognize when something is doing well and seize it to grow it even further.
“We have designs we like to call “Rockets,” said Schlossberg. “They’re our designs that are flying off the shelf like a rocket. We can tell because suddenly 80% of our profit is coming from one design across all our platforms.”
“If I see that we’ve got a rocket on our hands I like to get as many versions of it out there as possible in different fabrics and different colors. If we’re about to change seasons, I might make a short sleeve version of a three-quarter-length sleeved rocket dress. Or do shorts for rocket legging. That kind of thing.”
The Rise of Fast Fashion
Schlossberg has been at the forefront of fast design for years, but he’s not alone. Popular women’s and young adult retailers such as H&M, Zara and Forever 21 use a similar approach to change their entire collection within a matter of weeks.
“Our entire society is fast. We get information so fast these days. It’s no wonder that when it’s time to change a fashion our customers want to do it right away. They see what others are doing, and they want right now. Which is why we have been so successful for nearly 30 years.”
The Rise of Affordable Formal Wear
Schlossberg capitalized on a need in an industry that wasn’t being met early in his career. And that’s prom and formal wear for plus sizes and junior misses.
“ I’d been trading in a line called Onyx which is for misses for formal wear,” Schlossberg recalls.
“I can’t remember exactly how it happened, either someone showed me a comment online, or someone took a phone call message or something. A young lady was discouraged that she couldn’t find a dress in her size. That’s all it took. Within a week we were developing Onyx Nite which is for misses plus.”
Onyx nite led to a petite line, which plateaued as Schlossberg describes: “Then we figured out that maybe casual wear is the next way we go. Casual dresses. Daytime dresses. And now we’re doing activewear with Cathy Daniels.”
Recently, Glenn Schlossberg acquired the athletic clothing line Cathy Daniels with goals of implementing histechnology and back end production speed to a clothing line that’s maintained a presence for over 40 years.
Ashesh Amin, CEO of Jump Design Group, said in a statement, “we’re on a mission to acquire companies that have a sound business portfolio, and complement them with our strategies, marketing, and customer base.”
“In the next two or three years, we will chart a new course by using the most innovative technology to get the best product to the customer at the right time,” he added, going on to explain that Jump’s strategy is to combine a strong infrastructure with the front-end brands.
Jump Design Group and Glenn Schlossberg have designed and produced over 100 million garments in the mid-level market for women. Schlossberg’s commitment to producing quality products at an affordable price allows him continued success for the foreseeable future.