Have you been able to get retailers to carry the line?
Armstrong: Yes, in these past few months we have begun to make a name for ourselves. In the beginning retailers were reluctant to pick up the brand, being that it was so new, the name was new, but as of late with the press we’ve gotten and the way customers have gravitated to Armstrong & Wilson, retailers are more inclined to pick us up now. A lot of it has been the word of mouth, because once the product gets into the store, it moves. Retailers are becoming more comfortable with the brand, especially in these past few months and the public has really pushed [the product] a lot more.
What advice would you give to other designers looking to make their way into the fashion business?
Wilson: Find your niche. Our passion was always to have a full-fledged [clothing] line. However, with our limited resources when we started we were banking off just the money we had so we wanted to grow the line piece by piece. You have to start with a signature look to make a name for yourself. Eventually we are going to branch out into ties, suits, and dress shirts to develop a full line, but you have to start with one niche item. It’s harder to start out when you have no name or not that much finances for a full-fledged line. Find a niche and grow that—plant a seed in the fashion world and then you grow from there.
So ideally, you would like to grow the Armstrong & Wilson line out to include other items?
Armstrong: Definitely. It has always been our passion to have a full line. Moving forward you will see us implement, first other components of men’s accessories, then branch off to other parts of men’s fashion.
How have fashion blogs and social media helped your business?
Armstrong: It has been a tremendous help, being that people are going to the Web now for information. People are not picking up those [fashion] magazines as much because there is so much accessibility through the Web. I think bloggers and people who have online fashion columns, they open up the world to a vast range of people who are searching for information on fashion. So it has been a tremendous help, because when people are looking for accessories, like pocket squares, these bloggers and fashion columnists are writing articles on what’s new and what’s hot, it’s a great source to find immediate information that they may not find in high fashion magazines.
What’s the next step for Armstrong & Wilson?
Armstrong: Right now, we are focused on being the “pocket square guys” so to speak, but moving forward you will see us implement bow ties, and a lot of neckwear. You will definitely see the kids wear line, with our pocket squares in the next few months. Right now, we are focused on men’s accessories. Once we get a hold on that [market], we will branch out into shirts and suits, as Clifton mentioned. However, we are focused on making the best pocket squares to the best of our abilities.