Interview: The Row Production Director Joe Karban
Dec 03, 2010 - by Josh Linam
[By Sam Lim]
I'm interviewing Joe Karban, the Sourcing and Production Manager behind the brand, and getting a glimpse into his side of the fashion business. I walk through two large antique doors to The Row design studio and take a seat in a floor-skimming, espresso brown leather chair.
Mr. Karban welcomes me warmly and introduces me to the entire team on the way to his office. A thirty-year veteran of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and luxury brand Ginny H, he certainly knows his way around the industry. We chatted about his views on creating the perfect collection, on building the design vision of the Olsen girls, and what qualities it really takes to succeed in the competitive fashion industry.
What is the perspective of the production side of the small luxury house?
The Row works very tightly. It is a close-knit team and a design driven company. There are no formal rules. We develop procedures and processes that help us produce the vision of the design team, Mary Kate and Ashley. The aim is to create processes that give design the ability to support the vision of the brand. Everything is done in tandem so Productions role is to create processes that marry back to what everyone needs. Everyone here owns their job and every role is crucial. From the interns to the directors, The Row is established so that everyone is as fulfilled as possible.
In terms of developing a collection, walk me through what it is like coming from your point of view as the Production and Sourcing side.
The Row is different because it is small and very high end. First, we sit and analyze the current collection, we look at how last year sold, and what things are trending against the current season. Then, we build a score card. The score card is made by merchandising, production, and sales. It determines how much to sell, how much of everything to order, and determines how the line is divided between fashion pieces, foundational pieces, and image/aspirational pieces. Once the scorecard is developed it is given to the design team and they take it to buy all the fabrics and establish the fabric delivery schedule. Then, styles are designed, tech packs and patterns are made, it really is a process that is somewhat mathematical, somewhat inspirational, and somewhat trend. Design marries back to the fabrics that they inspire.
READ THE REST of Sam's interview on LookBooks HERE.