black lacoste polo The new Old Navy
He gave up his apparently successful namesake high fashion line several years ago to create a cheap junior line. People thought he was loopy. (Check out The Oregonian interview with him way back when when he came to Portland for Meier Frank) He also did a show for MTV that demonstrated how to create stylish spaces without spending small fortunes. Very cool. Then he designed for the completely uncool La Z Boy recliner company. This was like a successful sculptor designing Chia Pets.
Well, blow me over and ship ahoy: Oldham joined the navy Old Navy that is as creative director.
Sales at Old Navy have been stagnant as a pond for four years and the company hopes Oldham will stir things up a bit. very soon. Perfect for 20 somethings with more cache than cash.
About 400 people recently lined up to meet Oldham at Meier Frank in Washington Square. Oldham and public relations manager Jamey Edgerton stood behind a long table crowded with simple white scarves, graphic images and a large hot iron press. Customers could create their own photo imprint scarves at no cost and have Oldham sign them.
“I’ve done a bazillion PAs (personal appearances), and you just stand there and sign stuff,” Oldham said. “It’s OK. I mean, it’s really nice. But I wanted to do something interactive, something creative that people could do themselves.”
Most waited for more than an hour to meet Oldham.
“I like him and Betsey Johnson a lot,” said Amber Epstein, a cocktail waitress with shocking pink hair who makes clothes for herself and friends. “But we almost missed him because we went to the downtown store by mistake.”
Oldham, 37, has been a boy wonder in designer fashions. Beautiful celebrities such as Madonna and Susan Sarandon sport his clothes. The fashion press adored everything he did.
But Oldham recently closed the line bearing his name fall 1999 now in stores is the last of the lot and launched TO2 for juniors.
“I have trouble with that word. I know that ‘juniors,’ “women’s’ and ‘designer’ are the terms used by retailers,” Oldham said. “But it’s all just fashion.”
The TO2 line consists of mostly colorful clothes with an average price tag of about $50. Photo print shirts and a short jacket with a pink faux fur trim collar have a rock edge.
Oldham crossed the chasm between designing high and low fashion without so much as a gangplank. Though he was under contract with Escada for three years to create a bridge line (so called because they bridge the price gap between designer and mass produced lines), Escada never produced the line and didn’t renew his contract. Then earlier this year, the Jones Apparel Group Inc., a huge conglomerate that markets or has licensing deals with cK/Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren and Nine West, among many others, bought worldwide rights to Todd Oldham design and helped launch the junior line.
“This goes more with my sensibilities,” he said of the TO2 line.
Oldham was never one to restrict his creativity to high end design. This is the guy who, during a regular segment on MTV’s “House of Style,” showed young viewers how to furnish their first apartments with imagination and access to a good Dumpster.
Oldham also produced an interesting book, “Without Boundaries,” which, through interviews with Oldham, explores the creative process. He directed a music video for US3 and has several full length feature film projects in the works.
With so many different avenues open to him, Oldham didn’t need the relatively small moneymaker of his designer line anymore. But that’s not the reason he closed it down.