News & Scoops

2011 November 17

Vena Cava Under Pressure

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Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock
Patrick McMullan
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(NEW YORK) Earlier this afternoon, the Vena Cava/DANNIJO sample sale was eerily quiet. Only a handful of customers were spotted perusing the overstuffed racks in three rooms at 457 Broome St. This was a decidedly different atmosphere than Vena Cava's last discounted go-round (held in conjunction with Loeffler Randall) when a bevy of half-naked Brooklynites and mid-town editrices were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, trying on signature VC ballerina dresses only to hang it back on the rack for it to be scooped up in seconds by a savvy shopper waiting in the wing.

Today, of course, rumors are swirling that Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock, who were not seen at the sale, are seeking backers following the collapse of a potential deal with unnamed investors. Without the much-needed funds, the brand's days might be numbered even as they put on a brave face. “We love what we built with Vena Cava and are dedicated to seeing it thrive and grow," Mayock told WWD. Unnamed sources are claiming the Vena Cava duo have packed their bags, moved out of their Soho HQ and handed out pink slips to various staff members.

Vena Cava made its debut in 2004, gaining cult-like status with the indie crowd and high-profile editors (most notably Anna Wintour) alike. Just three years later, in 2007, the brand reached a milestone with the launch of a secondary lower-priced jersey line, Viva Vena, and a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nomination. In 2008, Mayock and Buhai collected a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up prize of $100,000. In 2010, Vena Cava secured a potentially lucrative collab with Bloomingdale's to design for its in-house line, Aqua--a major coup for any up-and-comer. But the Vena Cava for Aqua line, ranging from $98 to $198 and featuring a 19-piece assortment including silk tees, sweater coats, and casual party dresses, was said to have performed poorly at retail and was marked down approximately one month after its debut. Currently, only ten Vena Cava separates and two Vena Cava for Aqua items (both on sale) remain available at Bloomingdale's. The brand's other collaborations, including footwear developed with TenOverSix and wallet-friendly separates at Uniqlo, have garnered raves from editors, but as any designer understands all too well, those don't necessarily translate to a robust performance at retail.

Most recently, Vena Cava opted out of a Fashion Week event in favor of an intimate dinner and presentation to showcase Spring 2012 and unveil their new line of vintage-inspired handbags. What's next for the label? "We have had some very positive talks from potential partners and feel confident about moving forward,” said Mayock to WWD. Stay tuned.

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