10 Questions with Justin Warshaw, Designer and President of Justin Alexander
1) Tell us a little of your family history in the bridal industry and how many generations in this business?
My grandparents, Shirley and Ted Warshaw, were the first in our family to enter the bridal business in 1946 with T&G Bridal, specializing in headpieces and veils. My father and his brothers joined the business a couple decades later and saw an opportunity to expand to the wedding dresses category. My father took the business to Europe and built the Sincerity Bridal and Sweetheart Gowns brands and returned to New York in 2001. I’m the third generation, and I oversee our five owned collections and licensed partnerships.
2) What is the brand strategy today for Justin Alexander?
I’m focused on bringing trends and design innovation into each collection but balancing it with what looks great on real women. Justin Alexander, with a modern take on timeless with a preppy spin, and Justin Alexander Signature, with art-inspired beading, are the capstone collections, but we blanket the industry with four additional collections that have a different design approach and target bride. Our strategy is to reach every bride, no matter which style and price point she seeks.
3) What is the new line Be You about that is photographed on model Iskra Lawrence?
The new Be You campaign is inspiring women to be confident and happy regardless of shape, size and style. We are not launching a new collection; rather, we shot our favorite Justin Alexander and Justin Alexander Signature styles on Iskra, and they’re in stores now.
4) What’s it like collaborating with Viktor& Rolf?
It’s an incredible experience collaborating with Viktor&Rolf. The designers are innovative and are pushing the boundaries of bridal with new silhouettes and embellishments. It is inspiring to see such talent up close.
5) What the biggest take away that you have learned working with them?
Viktor&Rolf take conceptual design to another level. The way they build out a season is so thoughtful. We have learned new techniques and made advances in our dress construction.
6) How many markets do you travel to a year around the globe?
In addition to New York, every year I travel to Harrogate, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, and Chicago for markets, and I also make a point to visit retailers in France, Poland, Netherlands, and domestically in the US. As a global business, it’s important I spend time in all of our most important regions to keep a pulse on changing consumer tastes and behaviors.
7) Is the bride different from one part of the globe to the next?
Yes, definitely. American brides are looking for sexier, form-fitting, open back styles, while German brides are most conservative and prefer ball gowns and a-lines. British brides like styles with higher necklines that are a bit more classic and sophisticated.
8) What is your point of view for one US market vs two in the US.
It is a difficult question. On one hand, it’s important to have two markets each year to continue to infuse newness into the industry. On the other hand, the deliveries of samples to retailers in March does no one any good. The important thing is for boutiques and designers to have an open dialogue about their business needs and goals, and to partner to find the solutions.
9) What ideally in your opinion would be the time of year for designers to show in NYC?
The April timing is okay, but from a sales perspective it would be ideal to move October to August. Then retailers would certainly receive their samples before busy season picks up in January.
10) Besides work what else do you do in your free time if you have any?
I’m always traveling, so I try to take a day or two wherever I am to enjoy the city and relax. When I’m in town, I love going to galleries and checking out new restaurants in the city. I’m also a huge basketball fan so I try to catch a Knicks or Nets game or jump into a pick up game when I can. I also enjoy the outdoors and hiking.