LONDON — Six months after launching their contemporary clothing label Vivere, Savannah Miller and Damian Hopkins are speeding into 2024 with new management and plans to expand into the U.S.
Earlier this month they named Laura Corrigan-Conway, who has previously worked at companies including Reiss, Karen Millen and Ted Baker, to the new role of managing director.
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Corrigan-Conway, who was most recently managing director of Shrimps London, has been charged with expanding international wholesale and promoting the brand’s newly launched direct-to-consumer site, viverelondon.com.
Vivere, which means “to live” in Italian, made its debut last July with the fall 2023 collection, and released phase one of its spring 2024 collection this week.
It is also sold on johnlewis.com and through select John Lewis stores in England and Scotland, with prices ranging from around 40 pounds for a jersey T-shirt to 200 pounds for a blazer.
The label offers tailored clothing, knitwear and separates designed by Miller and manufactured in Turkey. Manufacturing and supply chain are overseen by Hopkins, who has worked in retail for more than 25 years, and who specializes in building consumer and celebrity brands.
As reported, Hopkins was an early mover in sustainability, launching an end-to-end Fairtrade Cotton supply chain for U.K. retailers in 2008. He is the founder of PDS Radius Brands and an executive director of PDS Ltd., a global, consumer-driven manufacturing and sourcing platform.
Miller and Hopkins, who are presenting the fall 2024 collection in London this week, said they are keen to build an audience on both sides of the Atlantic.
Hopkins is set to hire a sales director for North America, and the partners are eyeing U.S. department stores and smaller specialty stores with a curated edit.
In an interview Miller mentioned that one of her favorite specialty stores was Peper & Parlor in Hoboken, N.J. She said the customer service is spectacular and shopping there “is an event. You walk in, and it’s like shopping your dream closet.”
Miller already has a presence in the U.S: some 75 percent of her bridalwear, which is produced in partnership with Justin Alexander Luxury Group, is sold in the U.S.
Vivere sits at the other end of the fashion spectrum and is filled with easy, multitasking pieces that are meant to stretch from morning until evening.
Miller said bestsellers include tailored clothing, coats and knitwear. The latter is her specialty, and her field of study at Central Saint Martins in London.
Miller added that she, her design staff and clients are all looking for “classic, versatile, functional clothing. We don’t let these pieces out the door unless all of us want them.” She said the fabrics are as durable, and sustainable, as she can afford.
“I am not prepared to compromise on the quality of the fabric, and am always looking for the most responsible solution,” said Miller, adding that she wants to appeal to “a conscious consumer who’s looking for value, and for a better-made product” than they’d find on the high street.
For spring, Miller said she designed the collection to look “smart, but with a soft edge.”
Dresses are breezy and belted or cinched at the waist. Some have statement sleeves or pleats at the front. There is also a belted safari-style dress and jumpsuit which have been styled with mary jane style flats or sandals.
There are lightweight suits, too, including a linen three-piece style in gray pinstripes. Other suits have looser shapes, with wide-leg trousers and jackets with softly constructed shoulders.
The partners said they are bullish about the future despite a worldwide cost of living crisis, a decline in consumer confidence, and the rising cost of doing business.
Hopkins said his aim is to diversify the business model as much as possible and balance wholesale with DTC sales.
He noted that customer acquisition has become very expensive, and the change in the search engines’ algorithms has made business more challenging generally.
He said the search engines’ changes make “visibility much harder to achieve” online, one reason why he and Miller were working hard to build the wholesale business, especially in the U.S.
The partners said they want to take time building the brand organically — and they’re not interested in buying Instagram followers. Rather, they’re happy to cultivate their small but growing client base and their small number of followers. (There are currently around 2,218 on Instagram).
“One hopes we’re appealing to a conscious consumer, who’s interested in better-made product,” said Miller.
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