DOORS NYC is a revolutionary omnichannel platform: RETAIL, PR & E-COMMERCE, for independent fashion designers, cult niche brands and emerging artists to showcase and sell their work in the USA. Based in SoHo, New York, DOORS concept store, PR showroom and e-commerce. DOORS NYC's mission is to foster a supportive community of creative talent and promote sustainable, inclusive, and diverse fashion practices. I had the pleasure of interviewing Alise Trautmane-Uzuner, Founder & CEO of DOORS NYC about how this platform brings opportunities for designers to grow their brands in the USA.
“I'm intimately acquainted with the hurdles independent brands encounter in scaling their operations and the intricate decisions required under the constraints of limited budgets”
Tell us about your background.
I hail from a symphony of contrasts—born in Riga, Latvia, a Northern European country with merely 2 million inhabitants, where gray is the omnipresent hue for nine months of the year, and fashion takes a back seat when temperatures plummet to 20 degrees below zero.
I immersed myself in the world of law and economics, where structure meets strategy, earning a master’s degree in law and economics that fortified me with a keen insight for the complexities of business. Yet, my lifelong dalliance with art, nurtured since I was seven, eventually steered me towards fashion. My journey has taken me from Vienna to Moscow, London, and, since 2015, New York, the city I hold dearest on this globe.
How did you start your career in fashion?
Fashion found me amidst the thriving Russian economy while I was employed at Deloitte in Moscow. I initiated a venture to establish a chain of multi-brand retail stores in Russian cities boasting over a million residents. The vision also included launching an in-house fashion line. However, the 2008 economic crisis left only the conception of a new fashion brand from the grand blueprint. I embarked on my fashion label, underwent the trial of hiring and firing two creative directors, and ultimately resolved to master the craft myself.
After studies in Milan focusing on pattern making and design, I unveiled my first collection. The brand burgeoned into one of the most acclaimed fashion names in the Baltics. I've been honored with the Designer of the Year award thrice, featured in Forbes, and we even inaugurated a mono-brand store in London.
When and why did you decide to found Doors NYC?
DOORS NYC germinated from my personal odyssey as an independent fashion designer. Over a span exceeding ten years, I orchestrated the ascent of my fashion brand, celebrating significant triumphs—our designs were retailed in over 50 stores globally at one juncture—and learning from grave errors, such as the financial near-collapse post the Notting Hill store inauguration. I'm intimately acquainted with the hurdles independent brands encounter in scaling their operations and the intricate decisions required under the constraints of limited budgets—be it choosing between a PR showroom or in-house PR, opening mono-brand stores, or investing in trade shows and showrooms with hopes of wholesale success.
“DOORS NYC was conceived from a realization that no single service—PR, retail representation, marketing, and content—can catapult a brand to overnight success. An independent brand requires all these facets to thrive in the fiercely competitive market”
DOORS NYC was conceived from a realization that no single service—PR, retail representation, marketing, and content—can catapult a brand to overnight success. An independent brand requires all these facets to thrive in the fiercely competitive market. Within the industry's clamor, I envisioned DOORS NYC as a sanctuary where all these services converge under one umbrella, opening our doors to bridge the gap between a designer's aspiration and the actual growth of the business.
What is the added value of Doors NYC compared to other similar businesses?
We don’t just open doors; we design the keys. DOORS NYC is where exclusivity meets inclusivity, offering a bespoke membership-based suite of retail and PR services that transcends the ordinary. We're not solely in the apparel trade and PR; we're architects of success narratives. True, the landscape is dotted with multi-brand serviced retail spaces, pop-ups, and showrooms, each pursuing short-term goals. While beneficial, our ethos is to foster brands with an enduring vision and sustainable growth. We impart a combination of values to our member brands—retail and PR representation, content creation straight from New York, along with marketing and promotion, line edit and merchandising, monthly feedback, and seasonal curation.
Moreover, we are the most discerningly curated platform for independent designers. Our new designer acceptance rate stands at 1/10. We proactively scout and evaluate new talents, sometimes consulting them for multiple seasons before they join DOORS NYC.
This results in a distinctive brand assortment featuring renowned names like Juun J, Dice Kayek, GCDS, Yohji Yamamoto alongside emerging talents such as Jenn Lee, Private Policy. The mix of brands we foster is paramount for independent designers. Before aligning with a new platform or retail store, designers must consider 'the company' they keep—it plays a pivotal role in attracting the right customers, press, buyers, and generally, fashion industry intrigue, and can significantly amplify business opportunities or, conversely, let a brand's collections languish unnoticed on retail racks.
How is the New Yorker consumer, what are their characteristics?
"The New Yorker consumer is a unique species—they are discerning trendsetters who chart the future of fashion. They shun fleeting fads and instead, express their identities boldly through their attire. They yearn for genuineness and narratives interwoven into each garment, a desire that has become our brand's mandate.