V.Mora, a fashion development and production company founded by former fashion designer, Anna Livermore, aims to be a one-stop shop for emerging designers, helping them move successfully from concept to launch.
Livermore understands firsthand the challenges new designers face, motivating her, in 2008, to open V.Mora to foster a designer community and bring fashion dreams to life. V.Mora cuts through the usual red tape for designers by offering them a variety of services, including pattern & sample-making, fabric sourcing, model fittings, factory tours and access to Optitex technology, a virtual prototyping & production tool, plus business strategies, connections, and comrades.
The V.Mora client base spans as far as Australia and counts Kiya Tomlin as one of its clients. Livermore leads an all-woman team at company headquarters in Chicago with additional offices in San Francisco and New York. She graduated from Columbia College Fine Arts with concentration in Fashion Design and she frequently speaks at textile and manufacturing shows across the country.
Kristina Moore: It’s my understanding building a designer community is a priority at V.Mora. Why is this important?
Anna Livermore: There is a lack of community in the fashion community actually. In building community among our designers, we’ve seen greater success than when they go at it alone.
Over the last 7 years, we’ve built a community in Chicago and New York through Factory Tours, Designer Workshops or seminars. We connect designers to each other and to the process of production. We’ve also created designer support groups and sales groups to foster a sense of connection and to enrich community among our clients. When I started in fashion, it was very much every man for himself; there was a huge need for community.
We’re seeing success with our designers who collaborate and share resources. We have designers working together on sales and sharing fabric orders and PR information. When I started as a designer, it was an uphill battle to find the resources I needed to be successful. In founding V.Mora, I created what I didn’t have – a one-stop shop for emerging designers. This year, I had the pleasure of being a founding member of Wear Chicago – a group of established designers in Chicago looking to collaborate and share resources. Whether you’re just starting out or you are an established designer, collaboration is key in this industry.
Moore: Walk us through how you work with V.Mora clients, including the tools & resources you offer designers that differentiate it in the fashion development and production space?Livermore: What differentiates us? Transparency. Traditionally, the process was completely closed-door. You would hire a production company to launch your line, hand over your designs and that was it. You didn’t know where the materials would be sourced, where production would be done. We provide help with every step of the process, from design development to pattern and sample making, fabric and trim sourcing and eventually production. We work hand-in-hand with our designers and provide them with the sources for the highest quality supplies and production and, at the same time, educate them on how to work within the industry. With V.Mora, we are teaching the bird how to fly. We establish the foundation for perfect production in the first season to enable designers to take over in the following season. We are entirely transparent in our connection with designers and vendors.
We’ve also developed a multi-part online course that teaches beginning designers how to do it themselves. They receive everything they need – from contacts to scripts to calling vendors and so much more. This has been very empowering for designers who want to do it themselves but don’t know where to start.
Moore: Are you seeing a rise or a decline in the number of fashion designers addressing the style needs of the professional woman? What do you make of this?
Livermore: That’s the beauty of design and creativity. As each generation enters the next phase of their lives, we see a new wave of individuals addressing this need. We’re seeing more independent designers pushing the boundaries of what professional wear can be. We’re not trying to dress like men. Professional wear is no longer limited to a pantsuit or pencil skirt. We’re seeing more women taking risks in their professional wear and this has opened up an entirely new space for design creativity in the fashion world.
Livermore: I walked this road myself. As an independent designer, all I could see was these massive roadblocks that stood in my way. I found myself feeling like there had to be a more powerful way to share the experience with other designers. I always have and always will love working one on one with designers. I feel like I still design today, just with 60 other partners. I didn’t give up, I just grew.Moore: What future plans for V.Mora excite and energize you?
Livermore: When we started, we became masters of how to move from sketch to garment. Now we’re looking at the second side of that – how to get that design into the hands of consumers. It’s no secret that e-commerce is the future of sales for apparel. Last year, retail e-commerce revenues from apparel and accessories sales amounted to $52.2 billion. We’re working with clients to establish and expand their online presence, and connecting the dots all the way to the consumer. In the next year, we’re establishing an online marketplace for all our customers.
Moore: How do you replenish your creativity and energy?
Livermore: I think you can find incredible sparks of creativity anywhere. Sometimes it comes up when I’m running, sometimes it’s seeing something I’ve never seen in a new country. Creativity and energy is everywhere, you just have to keep your mind open to it. I love to travel, connecting with other entrepreneurs. I replenish my energy through meditation and taking care of myself, making sure I’m in tiptop shape so I can take care of my business.
Kristina Moore is a style expert focusing on visual presentation as a dynamic professional tool. She is the founder and editor ofCorporate Fashionista. Kristina welcomes your comments and questions.