The CFDA/Vogue 2024 Fashion Fund finalists on inspiration, community and starting their businesses

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What made you want to start your brand?
After I left Thom Browne, I thought I would get another job. But I had this collection I’d been sketching for years, and I thought I should just do it and see what happens. I did that first collection as a sort of test. It was so much harder than I thought it would be, and it’s only gotten harder since, but it was also so much more fulfilling than I ever expected, so I got hooked. I did a second collection, and then Covid happened, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m locked in.’

You were a finalist for the Fashion Fund in 2022, why apply again?
The first time was so formative for me and the brand in terms of really legitimising us and it was so powerful to have the CFDA and Vogue take a stance on Wiederhoeft. It really helped us transform from this fledgling business into one that could really exist in the fashion conversation.

I feel like we’ve grown so much in the past couple of years, and I really want to dig our feet into some of the products and stories we’ve been telling, and cement our place a bit more. Back then I had one employee and now that I have a couple more and a lot of consultants and people who believe in the brand, so it’s exciting to think what we’d be able to do with all the new information.

Image may contain Clothing Long Sleeve Sleeve Formal Wear Accessories Tie Flower Flower Arrangement Plant and Cup

As a judge comments on the weight of a heavily embellished dress, Wiederhoeft adds, “It’s the only dress I have that’s ever broken one of my hangers!”

Photo: Hunter Abrams

How do you navigate the precariousness of the wholesale/retail landscape as a small brand?
I’m really lucky in that wholesale is a very small part of my business. The business has really been built on direct-to-consumer (DTC) — especially within the bridal collection, which has been our bread and butter and supports the business. We really waited until bridal was super stable in order to start doing wholesale, because for a small brand, wholesale is more of an investment because the profit margins are lower than DTC. We’re just taking it slow and working with key partners.

Is there someone in the industry whose career trajectory you look up to?
Thom Browne is a huge inspiration for me. I think his emphasis on storytelling and authenticity is so key, and just he’s such a proponent of people discovering their own stories and promoting their own product in a way that’s genuine. I was reading an interview the other day where he said something like, ‘Honestly, I’d much rather people talk about the work, than about me,’ and I feel similarly. I’ll have bridal appointments where the client doesn’t realise I’m the designer, and it’s kind of fun to just almost cosplay as the shop assistant and just let them feel that emotion through the garment without me even needing to explain who I am or anything.

If you could dress a character from a book, TV, or movie, who would it be?
First thing that comes to mind is Cruella de Vil. But It’s hard to compete with the Glenn Close adaptation.

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