Sterritt-Lehigh Spotlight on Goldsmith
The following article is from the Starrett Spotlight in March 2015...
There’s an art and science behind how clothing is presented in stores – we decided to consult an expert!
Goldsmith is the oldest mannequin company in the U.S., est. 1927. Its sister companies also produce mannequins, but Goldsmith is one of the largest. As an international company, many of Goldsmith’s clients are also international. With The Starrett-Lehigh Building housing the majority of the New York City fashion industry, Goldsmith is right at home surrounded by creative minds and fashion connoisseurs everyday. Goldsmith is a backbone for a portion of the fashion industry, specializing in researching trends for next season’s new looks. When not taking part in major meetings like the National Visual Merchandising Week and the Retail Design Collective, Goldsmith may be holding cocktail parties and large dinners in their space at Starrett-Lehigh. Last year the mannequin leader did a 100 person sit-down dinner for the visual merchandising department of a major retailor for its national pre-holiday meeting!
Starrett-Lehigh sat down with Goldsmith President & Creative Director Dan Evans to find out more about this pioneer amongst the mannequin world. Check out the below interview for insight on the fashion industry from whole new perspective:
Q: How did Goldsmith come to be at Starrett-Lehigh?
A: It’ll be 10 years Goldsmith has been at Starrett-Lehigh come the end of 2015. I originally had two other businesses at Starrett prior to the start of Goldsmith – both were also in the visual merchandising industry. I was here when Starrett went from being an industrial location to a more creative and fashion-focused building. There’s been lots of transformation. I remember when there were no regular elevators; the only elevators were the manual freight elevators. At my first parties here we had to use the truck elevators and move people in batches of 60-70 at a time. The neighborhood at that time was quite shady and my industry thought I was insane moving to the west side since the rest of the industry is on 25th street between 6th and 7th avenue. But our clients like the creative spaces – it’s why we’re here.
Q: Where could we find some of your mannequins?
A: You can find Goldsmith products in almost every major retailor, particularly Macy’s, Nordstorm, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, and Bloomingdales. We work with a lot of specialty stores like H&M, Forever21, and Ralph Lauren Polo Kids. Goldsmith has done lots of special programs for shows over the years; fashion shows and events, some of them even being Starrett-Lehigh tenants who reach out and ask for help.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about your design process?
A: Our design process is really sort of old school. Our mannequins are hand crafted. We customize our work by selecting our models based on our current direction needs or our clients’ needs. Our mannequins are based on real people or marketing campaigns of companies. After models are chosen, we go to photo shoots to determine poses and the number of bodies needed. Then, traditionally, we move into the sculpting phases. Goldsmith has sculptors throughout the US. We have some sculptors who focus on women, others on children, etc.
The mannequins are sculpted, molded, manufactured, and then produced in large quantities. Once a store decides on a particular pose we can sell them hundreds to thousands of that mannequin in that pose. We create different lines of mannequins each season and buyers come and choose what they like. Once a choice has been made, we can then customize to meet their needs; color, finish, materials, different faces and poses – much like the fashion industry.
Q: Can you tell me a little more about your factory? How has creative expertise and time-honored techniques changed over the years?
A: The biggest change is that we’ve become a global company. Goldsmith therefore expanded its manufacturing greatly. We used to have our factory in Long Island City, but that closed in 2009. We now have factories in various parts of Mexico and China, as well as Barcelona, Spain, and Nice, France. Smaller pieces still get manufactured in Denver, but are then moved to larger factories based off needs, timing, and cost. Starrett-Lehigh houses the showroom, sales team, and creative team of Goldsmith. The company’s backend support, which includes finance and customer service, is in an office outside of Denver. Though our headquarters is just outside of Denver, Goldsmith lists Starrett-Lehigh, and its New York City address, as it’s “official” headquarters.
Q: Goldsmith prides itself on a reputation of quality and service; what measures does Goldsmith take to guarantee it maintains this type of reputation?
A: Meeting customers’ high standards and expectations is what we specialize in. Like our customers, we have quality control and customer service systems in place. Goldsmith is notorious for hiring industry veterans who understand what we do. There are lots of knock-off versions of our products, so we stay ahead of the industry and therefore can justify our mid to higher prices.
Q: What makes Goldsmith tick? Where does your creativity and inspiration come from?
A: Our standards are based on the industry standards themselves. We take adequate time shopping, traveling the world, and learning what is happening in the industry. This is the fun part; our line of work parallels the real fashion industry and we get our insight from all different place – retail stores, art, new designs, music, etc. Our clients are arguably the most creative people in the industry since they comprise a large portion of the creative side behind what is seen in most of the stores.
Q: What has been your favorite Goldsmith project?
A: When we get involved in a new direction it makes for an exciting program. We do a lot of women’s lines, so when we do kids lines and get to work with child models, that’s always fun. Last year we did a whole new men’s line and that was exciting.
We do lots of flagships out of stores that are quite challenging because they are so creative. The challenge is exciting though – one example would be some of the work we’ve done with H&M, who has been out client for about five years now.
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