We are two guys from the United States that started a fashion house 25 years ago to help women look & feel their most beautiful.

A little bit about me (Mark): I was born & raised in Oregon. My father was in retail and was the president of various department stores, and I always had an affinity for fashion & retail. Moved to NYC to go to design school, and started Badgley Mischka with my partner James. After school, I worked for Donna Karan as my first job out of college, right when she was just starting we shared the same desk, it was an amazing opportunity and experience. And we teamed our efforts after 2 years (James and I) and started Badgley Mischka.

A little bit about me (James): I was born in Wisconsin, raised in California & New Jersey, I went to college for biomedical engineering to design artificial limbs, and transferred to Parsons and ended up loving fashion and making a career of it!

You can view our new 2015 Resort Collection here: http://www.badgleymischka.com/resort-2015

Victoria from reddit will be assisting us, so ask us anything!



James: It's been great talking to everybody. And we are so happy to hear your responses to our work. Hope you continue to enjoy what we do. And looking forward to getting more feedback and talking to everybody soon!

Mark: How fun, to have this source of media, to talk to customers, what a treat! The interaction is just - that's inspiring. It really really truly is.

Comments: 80 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

jpcrecom39 karma

How many people are shocked that Badgley Mischka isn't an actual person when they find out that you are two different people, like I just did 13 seconds ago when I read your headline?

MischkaAndBadgley46 karma

Mark: For years, we were a Russian woman.

James: Years ago, Mark's mom went into Bergdorf Goodman, was looking at the clothes, and was told by the saleslady that they were from a "Fabulous Russian Woman Designer, Badgley Mischka." And we were kind of mortified, but we corrected her real fast.

Mark: So nothing phases us. I'm Mischka, he's Badgley, we're pretty used to it all by now.

bonebride34 karma

Hi, guys. Thanks for doing this AMA. The business of fashion, specifically high fashion, is still primarily a niche market for the wealthy. To my eyes, your brand seems to champion the democratic nature of modern, high fashion: everyone, thanks to the internet, can now play a part in the conversation.

What I love most about the Badgley Mischka woman is that she’s chic, but she’s real. Your clothes are wearable, your models diverse. But, because of my budget, I can’t afford the kind of high-end clothes I wish I could buy. I can only afford the fast fashion versions. I feel guilty: It feels like stealing from my favorite creatives, my favorite brands.

Recently Michael Kors stated that he believes ‘fast fashion’ will eventually drive consumers to want well-crafted, quality goods. What are your thoughts on ‘fast fashion’ – is it hurting or helping the industry? And do you forgive me?

MischkaAndBadgley48 karma

Mark: Oh my god, you are very well-spoken!

James: We don't have to forgive you, by the way. You are doing nothing wrong.

Mark: Listen, I think the way women dress today is amazing. You know? There's no stigma, it's all a blur as to what's considered high fashion and accessible fashion. You can buy the most gorgeous little dress for nothing, put it together with a great bag or some accessories, and you can't tell the difference. I think it's the most amazing time for women to put themselves together. When they put on a t-shirt, a designer skirt, shoes, I think it's fun, there's no rules, there's no boundaries, I think it's all fun right now, and it's the way a modern woman dresses, doesn't matter if she has a million dollars in her bank account.

James: you can dress fast fashion or high fashion, it all works, totally. And for people who would like to wear our clothes, but can't afford them, buy pieces, buy a pair of sunglasses or some fragrance. It's part of a larger picture.

Mark: Gone are the days when a woman wears designer head to toe. It's not modern. She selects beautiful little pieces that she incorporates into her wardrobe, and buys a lot of little accessible pieces, and it's wonderful. I think it's great.

bonebride14 karma

Thanks, both of you, for the thoughtful response! I think this is a really exciting time to be interested in fashion, and the business of it, because of the erosion of high-low distinction you're talking about.

MischkaAndBadgley18 karma

Mark: That's so nice!

James: Thank YOU.

karmanaut14 karma

Please describe your idea of a "nightmare ensemble." What is the absolute worst look that a person could wear?

MischkaAndBadgley24 karma

Mark: To me the worst look is just... it's just stopping trying. Like life has gotten so casual that I understand that, but we love a woman that makes an effort, you know?

James: I think the worst look is the sloppy look.

Mark: It's like, come on. It takes just as much time to dress to look amazing, or to look like a slob, so make a little effort. It could be ANYTHING, we hate dress down fridays.

James: It's our worst nightmares. Casual fridays.

Mark: They are just an excuse.

James: It's a complete lack of trying.

Mark: I mean, you could look so chic in a relaxed way, just make a little effort. It's a whole syndrome.

James: I think it's the whole attitude of casual fridays, where casual doesn't necessarily mean sloppy, but people think it does.

Mark: We love chic casual, you don't have to look like a slob.

a-huge-mistake12 karma

Hi Mark and James! So excited to see you doing an AMA. :)

I'm getting married this December and wanted a non-traditional dress. I searched and searched until I found this lovely gown for our 20s-inspired wedding, and I just can't wait to wear it! Could you give me any styling recommendations for jewelry, shoes, hair?

MischkaAndBadgley15 karma

Mark: We love EVERYTHING with that old world quality to it. It's absolutely so gorgeous for you. We love dirty diamonds, anything with an heirloom quality to it, especially for a wedding. I think it's dirty diamonds, maybe a gorgeous gardenia in the side of her hair, it's so chic, so divine, just play it up. Great Gatsby! The pictures will be timeless, you will look at them for years and years to come and be happy.

James: Actually, we just watched the Gatsby movie by Baz on the plane back from Istanbul, and the styling there is incredible. And you can take some tips from that movie.

Mark: What's the mood that you're after? It might be the mood. And no veil. Do a little diamond clutch bag.

James: But it is your ONE chance to wear a tiara, this is your one chance to get away with this.

Mark: A beautiful satin heel, satin sandal heel, would be so charming under that dress. And dirty diamonds.

James: And we keep hearing how our bridal shoes are incredibly popular, we have a variety of them, but the girls that can't wear a Badgley Mischka dress can wear a shoe for their wedding. So that's fun. They are so retro and so comfortable at the same time, it's really wonderful.

Mark: And it's a surprise - when you pull your dress up, you need a fabulous shoe.

James: Our girls don't get away with Dyeables.

beernerd10 karma

I have a daughter, and among the many things I've learned from being a father is the fact that I am absolutely terrible at picking out clothes that match. My Mather-in-law has mocked me for it. Any tips or tricks you might have for a fashion idiot like myself?

MischkaAndBadgley23 karma

Mark: I would say keep it simple.

James: Black is a fail-safe to go to. You can accent anything with black.

Mark: Keep it simple, black & white, have fun with accents & accessories.

James: Don't overthink it. Your more important job is being a dad.

Mark: Steer clear of prints, they are trouble.

James: No gigantic pineapple prints, they are trouble.

marionbobarion10 karma

Wow, hi!

I've always wondered how people end up on the red carpet in horrific, ill-fitting ensembles (not necessarily your brand!). It seems like there are so many people involved with these gowns that there should be SOMEONE who can pull them aside and advise them not to wear it. Do you have any insights into this?

MischkaAndBadgley11 karma

Mark: My only comment on that is: It's gotten a lot better. When you look back like in the 80's, before stylists were so important - once in a while there's a mistake but it's not like it used to be.

James: The red carpet looks much better than it did 20 years ago.

Mark: It's come a loooooooong way. There's a million mistakes you can find, but it's really - comparatively, it's a whole new thing.

James: And sometimes people dress for attention. Because looking amazing gets you 5 minutes, looking terrible gives you years.

mrskoala10 karma

Hello Mark and James! I'm a big fan of Badgley Mischka and will hopefully be visiting your flagship store in NY next month with my sister-in-law to look at dresses for her upcoming wedding. I've had the pleasure of wearing two of your designs through Rent the Runway. How do you think a business such as RTR is changing the fashion industry in terms of making high end fashion more accessible?

MischkaAndBadgley12 karma

Mark: I think it's great. It's an amazing company. We are personally friends with the owners.

James: We are among the first people to embrace Rent the Runway.

Mark: They introduce a consumer to high fashion, they learn it in an easy way, it introduces them to fine apparel, and they become consumers, this and that.

James: It introduces them to high fashion in a non-threatening way.

Mark: And for a modern woman who has to go to a million events, and doesn't have the budget to buy a dress every second, she can learn what she likes, what is right for her body type and fit, and she becomes a consumer. It's a great concept with a great company.

dootsie10 karma

Good morning! I interviewed you a couple years ago at Derby time in Lexington, Kentucky for a feature! Thanks again for being so delightful to speak with (and for doing an AMA!)

Much has been made of the "casualization" of America. Do you think that fashion in coming decades will trend towards more formal? Do you have advice for someone hoping to dress up their day-to-day style?

MischkaAndBadgley19 karma

James: The bane of our existence is casual fridays, as we said before. We think that fashion is trending towards a more pulled-together look in the future, which we love.

Mark: I do think a woman loves a little polish today. We are all about the red carpet, and our core business is beautiful evening gowns. But we do a collection of day dresses that are so simple - you throw them on, one zip, and you are glamorous, and we love that. That's our mantra. They come in every size, silhouette, whether it's flirty or chemise-y or simple, and they are effortless. And to us, that's how a woman could - it takes just as much effort to throw on a tshirt and a pair of jeans and look like nothing, as it does to throw on a dress like this in any print or color, and that's the way I think a woman wants to dress today. I think she is tired of being so ordinary.

James; For anyone who thinks of Badgley Mischka as being $20,000 evening gowns, we also do collections that are very affordable for everyday customers.

Mark: We have a gorgeous collection called Belle, and the dresses are around $150, and they are drop. dead. gorgeous. And every woman could just throw it on, they are so easy and comfortable, it's the same pattern makers and designers on our team that does the couture, and it's wonderful, a really great solution.

James: it's all about attention to detail.

Mark: If you don't want to wardrobe yourself -

James: I'm going back to when we were in school, Mark. All our friends in school had no money, but they were fashion students, and they had no money, and they paid attention to every detail. Pay attention to detail and you will look amazing. Make sure your eyebrows are groomed, that your dress fits properly-

Mark: FIT IS SO IMPORTANT. You can take the cheapest piece of clothing, and if it fits you properly it will make you look like a million bucks. Fit elevates you.

James: Fit is primary for us. Mark and I always say this - the fit of the garment is more important than the garment.

Mark: For the Oscars, we will fit the ribcage of a gown to one of our girls for days. It will be chiseled, beautiful, just - fit is SO important.

RebelBelle7 karma

I adore your clothes, absolutely adore them. But, being busty and plus size, the only things that fit me are the shoes and jewelry. You use such classic cuts and lines that would really flatter bigger sizes - is there any reason you don't cater to the bigger girl? Oh, and great news to hear about your ethical stance on production. More fashion companies should do this.

MischkaAndBadgley9 karma

James: I think it's a very important question. We do try to address our busty customers and our plus size customers. If you look at our clothes, they definitely fit real women, fitting women who have had 3 kids, they definitely fit on real people. And we also, like we said earlier, are extremely concerned with how our clothes are sourced: we want to use responsible manufacturing in our clothing, which is why they cost more.

Mark: We cut from size 0-28, we have gorgeous artisinal pieces that we sell to a lady down the street or to the wife of a political figure. Size means nothing to us. We really do all sizes. And I think it's an unfair assumption that high fashion is just for a size 2,4,6 customer. We do every size.

James: Look ar our red carpet, we embrace all sizes.

Mark: We have dressed Melissa McCarthy for several carpets.

James: One of our proudest achievements is working with Queen Latifah. We are blind to color and size.

Mark: We love everything, it's all fabulous. It's unfair to pigeonhole high fashion into a category. In terms of sizing, the stores have to buy sizes. Every designer will sell what the stores want, you have to put it on the retailers' laps. The designer gets caught in the brunt of it, but at the end of the day, designers will sell whatever sizes stores want. The stores might not buy those sizes. It's really a catch 22.

jtet936 karma

Do you have a favorite collection or look from another designer? Who do you draw your inspiration from? Better yet: any up and coming designers you have your eye on?

Thanks for doing this, guys. Redditors often seem a little flummoxed by the fashion world-- this might be an eye-opener for some people. Keep making beautiful clothes!

MischkaAndBadgley4 karma

Mark: you know, there are so many designers out there actually, but we can hardly keep up with what we do! I don't really notice what anybody else does. Two of our favorites are Geoffrey Beene and Bill Blass, they are friends of ours and we love them dearly. Their clothes are still as relevant today as they were years ago.

James: They were our total mental mentors.

Ron_Tam6 karma

Thanks for the AMA James and Mark and congratulaions on your continued success!

You guys have been sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit, what would you choose as your final meal?

MischkaAndBadgley13 karma

Mark: CAVIAR!!!! And toast.

James: I'd have to find the most amazing thai restaurant in the city, and eat until I burst.

Mark: At home I would do caviar & toast.

James: if you're in prison, honey...

Mark: Indian is my most favorite. But he hates Indian food. But I love it.

-darling-nikki-6 karma

If you could create a look for anyone in the world, living or deceased, who would it be?

MischkaAndBadgley12 karma

Mark: I would love to design a dress for Coco Chanel. The ULTIMATE challenge.

James: I am in LOVE with Liz Taylor, so Liz Taylor circle Last Time I Saw Paris or Butterfield 8.

Mark: She was amazing.

-darling-nikki-5 karma

Hi James and Mark - I'm a big fan, and lucky enough to have a job where I get to see and play with your creations every day!

Your Fall 14 RTW collection drew inspiration from turn-of-the-century Vienna and its artists. What inspired that image, and how did you flesh it out into a collection?

MischkaAndBadgley8 karma

Mark: We actually had just been there on a recent trip, and we were tremendously inspired, and I think it's an aesthetic that a NY woman really relates to. There's something very alluring about it, but at the same time very practical. It's very chic and just really resonated with the way we like to make clothes.

James: It's decadent and practical at the same time, which is what we really loved about it. Taking that gilded lily basically. It was a fun collection to work on, we got to indulge our magpie instincts and make clothes that we thought people would actually like to wear as well.

-darling-nikki-3 karma

Thank you so much! I adore the coats and fur, but my job has me living temporarily in Houston... James, I'm sure you feel my pain.

MischkaAndBadgley8 karma

Mark: HAAHA! That's cute. God, the humidity, it is hotter than the hinges of hell there. We go there all the time for business. James you feel her pain, don't you?

James: I do, we do go back to Houston, and i love going back there, and i have a lot of friends who are still there.

Mark: We love Houston, the women in Texas love to dress well, they indulge and are very glamorous. They love love clothes.

JLJ918905 karma

When you first met at Parsons, how did you decide to design together? How do you compliment each other's design aesthetic?

MischkaAndBadgley10 karma

James: We actually didn't at first. Both of us were designers but wanted to start our own companies, we thought we were working too hard for other people. We thought why not team our efforts, instead of competing against each other? My background was in menswear, Mark was in women's. We started a company doing both. At first we went to every appointment together, every fitting together, everything together, but then we realized we had the same aesthetic - confirmed that - and being able to be in 2 places at one time is great, because it's a difficult industry. People say it's like having one mind in 2 bodies, but having half a brain I don't like so much. We haven't killed each other YET, so...

Mark: We are both Capricorns, so we're slightly mellow, I guess you could say.

Curls1185 karma

Hi Mark & James! I am a huge fan - your gowns are absolutely gorgeous works of art! Thanks for making me and women everywhere feel instantly glamorous in your beautiful pieces. Do you ever experience "fashion block" when designing? If so what do you do to combat this? Where do you get your day to day inspiration?

MischkaAndBadgley8 karma

Mark: We get fashion block all day long. We travel. I have horses, I go sit on a horse. James goes out on his boat.

James: We have fashion ennui, which happens all the time.

Mark: We do thousands of dresses a year, it's always a challenge to get away and get inspired. And at the end of the day, it's our customers that inspire us. Our best girlfriends, my sister, our friends that inspire us to do the next dress. They are so glamorous, it's that simple.

_northernlights3 karma

If you could have one model, alive or passed, to model a collection for you. Who would it be? And why?

MischkaAndBadgley14 karma

Mark: I love the 2 extremes. We are old friends with Iman, when I worked with Donna Karan, she did our shows, and she looks as beautiful then and now. And for old World quality, Grace Kelly, she is just such a classic.

James: Naomi Campbell did our first show, before she was well-known.

Mark: She was a teenybopper.

James: She was off the boat fresh from London. We worked with a lot of the most beautiful women in the world, not just models but actresses as well. Anyone from Naomi Campbell to Iman but also Helen Mirren, she is a huge icon to us.

Mark: We've dressed her for 100 awards shows... she is so gorgeous, so chic, so sexy.

GISP3 karma

Who is the model you used for the collection showcase?

MischkaAndBadgley5 karma

James: We use local NY models for our lookbooks and on our website. We do very extensive casting for very fashion show that we do. We go for the newest girls, the most inclusive girls, and obviously, the most gorgeous girls.

justking1 karma

How do you get your customers to accept the high price tags? I'm not a fashionable man in the least and if I pay more than $50 for a nice pair of shoes I feel like I'm being robbed.

MischkaAndBadgley19 karma

Mark: Trust me, we do not love high prices. Unfortunately, everything that we do, there's a cost involved. I think that we measured every one of our gown's travels over 25,000 miles, and 250 people actually touch the gown from start to finish. And it costs so much money.

James: Plus you are paying for quality and time.

Mark: You are paying for the fabric, travel, skills. I would love for everything to be less expensive.

James: But it can't be if you want to support the world too. People need to make a living wage. We source our product responsibly, so we don't use any kind of child labor factories, we make things in the most responsible way possible, and that makes them more expensive. You can make things cheap, but you get cheap.

Mark: Our customer demands quality, and wants the best.

James: Obviously our shoes and accessories are one thing, but our gowns do end up getting expensive. We've always compared our clothing to furniture. If a dress costs as much as a sofa, it had better be a pretty good dress. And now you can get up to the price of cars, sometimes, but we use furniture.