An interior designer since the early 90′s, paired with her unique background of 30 years’ experience in the fashion and textile design industry, gives her the upper hand when it comes to cohesive design. She is able to create harmonious color palettes in every room and pair them with the perfect blend of pattern and texture.
The Evolution of Janice McCarty Design’s Clothing Line has been featured in many news papers and media throughout the 90s. Her story told through California Apparel News “When Janice McCarty was eight years old, she already knew she wanted to design clothes. The realization came as she scanned a magazine article about designers Teale and Forgess. Seeing pictures of the pair designing garments on their Paris rooftop and dyeing fabric in the bathtub, McCarty thought, “That’s what I want to do.” And she never looked back.
McCarty, a San Francisco native, attended the now-defunct Pacific Fashion Institute near Union Square, but even before graduating she had landed a job as an assistant designer for Karen Alexander’s Foxy Lady label. Then came a two and-a-half-year stint in New York designing for several companies followed by a move to Los Angeles where she launched her own line of T shirts in 1980.
With her T-Shirts displayed in stores as Fred Segal, McCarty was, for the most part, happy with her success, but “there was a missing link,” she explains. She wanted to interact with her customers and get to know what they wanted. “By 1984 I decided to fill the void” she recalls.
She opened her eponymous retail store on the corner of Third and Sweetzer in Los Angeles that same year. It is a measure of her success that by March 1994 she had moved to a new space a few blocks down Third Street that more than tripled her square footage to 2,500.
Today, McCarty has no trouble recognizing her customers’ needs, and she gets more than an earful when it comes to what they want “My designs are 95-percent customer-influenced, ” she explains. In fact, McCarty, who had no experience in retail, believes that she is more successful as a designer because she is “dealing with real people and designing for them.”
McCarty describes her loyal following as free-thinking, fashion-forward professional women with a “New York point of view.” What they need-and what McCarty designs, is softly tailored clothing that can move from a more form-fitting silhouette to a looser, more relaxed fit. McCarty is recognized for her long, princess-line dresses in romantic rayon prints and her trademark antique buttons. ‘They’re definitely a selling point,” she says. “I have trouble selling items without them.” Her best-known outfit is probably the vest dress Marisa Tomei wore in the 1993 motion picture “The Paper.” She’s still making it because people still want it. “It’s funny in retrospect,” she says, laughing. “I’ve done the design for six years, and in the past two years since the movie it’s been copied [by other manufacturers]. It tickles me inside that I started this thing. On the other hand, it’s like having piranhas at your feet.”
McCarty designs a wide range of dresses, jackets, tops and bottoms suitable for day or evening. Most of her styles are available in small and medium sizes, but if the item is a best-seller, she will produce it in sizes petite through extra-large. All of McCarty’s dresses have tie-backs for either a loose or tight fit, and her long lengths are going shorter this year to show off anklets and flats.
McCarty’s designs have won her devoted fans who have no qualms about paying $235 retail for a dress, and leave with two to four garments at a time and spends anywhere from $600 to $1,000.
“My price points don’t affect my customer base,” notes McCarty. “‘They [the price points] ensure exclusivity, and that’s important to my clients.” And to keep her clients loyal, McCarty lavishes them with personalized attention. She sends new design sketches and fabric swatches to those on her mailing list and started a monthly newsletter in January to keep customers informed about significant happenings and changes to her designs. She asks for their opinions and tries to be in the store every Saturday-a day McCarty says is her busiest She adds new merchandise every day, and for an extra fee she will do custom work.
McCarty has come a long way since she was an eight-year-old girl with big dreams, but she hasn’t lost her childlike enthusiasm. “In the past 10 years I’ve wanted to create everything,” she declares. That includes pillows, candlesticks and other knickknacks that can be found in her store.” I don’t want to be just a designer. I make furniture, ceramics, lamps. I do all kinds of things.”
While McCarty has done all these things-and done them well-she’s also found time to sell her clothes to a handful of specialty stores throughout the country. Her dream is to open more stores under her own name, but for now the only way to expand her customer base was to start wholesaling again. Her decision to do so should pay off when Henri Bendel in New York features her designs in its windows this spring.
Says McCarty, “Designing is like a game. The fun of creating the game is right here on the street It’s being able to give people what they want”