KINGA MALISZ is Design Director at Jason Wu, based in New York.
With over 12 years of design experience, she’s also worked with Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen and Nina Ricci, specialising in creating red carpet gowns for the A-list, bridal dresses for society girls, and RTW collections for the runway.
Hi Kinga, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us. It’s a massively challenging and uncertain time for all of us, so we appreciate the time you’re taking out of your busy schedule to answer these questions, focusing on what working life is like right now in New York.
Are you on full lockdown at the moment? If so, how long has it been, and how long have you been working from home?
‘Yes, we’ve been on full lockdown since March 12th, about a week before the rest of NY, as our CEO decided not to take any chances! We’ve been working from home since then. There’s no concrete plan of when we’ll be going back to the studio, but we’re hoping for end of May.”
What was the last day in the studio like? What did you need to prepare personally, and how did you prepare your team for the prospect of working at home?
“Everything happened very quickly! It was a Thursday and the decision was made late in the day. I’m a Design Director, managing a team, so we had to make a plan of what to pack up and take home with us. This included everything from tailoring stands, fabrics for draping and drawing materials. Thankfully we have a great IT network that lets us connect via our personal computers to whatever we need to find on the company server. We also had a company-wide meeting to talk about next steps, best way to avoid the risk of infection etc.”
How disruptive has the crisis been for the brand? Please give examples if possible, as to how it’s affected design of the collections / your supply and production chain.
‘It has affected every single level of our supply chain and our work.
Our Italian mills can’t produce our fabrics, production is suspended, and Resort will be a smaller collection this year, as out retail partners are also struggling at the moment. We are all on standby, researching, being creative, draping…waiting for this to be over.”
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
“Making sure everyone is up to date with all the developments…being in an office environment, we underestimate the power of communication!
I’m trying to keep my team in good spirits, providing support and reassuring them that this is a temporary situation.”
How are you and your team keeping in touch – how do you continue a collection without being in the same space together? Do you have daily Zoom/skype meetings etc?
“Zoom, Slack, FaceTime – technology is just an incredible tool in this day and age. And we do daily Touch Base calls and texts.”
Are there any positives coming out of this situation as yet?
Are you enjoying working from home / what are your top tips for working from home as a designer?
“I definitely find it a welcome change! I don’t think we can or will go back to the way we used to work.”
This is a wake up call for the whole industry to work smarter and in a more sustainable way. I think once the dust settles, we will find a very different – hopefully better, and more mindful – fashion industry.