After a few turbulent years for the brand, Melbourne favourite Willow is closing its doors for good.
Founded in 2003, the Melbourne label has been celebrated for its contemporary tailoring, fused with elegant draping and detail. It was stocked in more than 80 retailers worldwide, including David Jones and Neiman Marcus in the US. At its peak, the brand was turning over 20 million dollars annually.
But in this week’s sad news, founder of the brand, Kit Willow Podgornik, announced that Willow would shut its doors on September 30. Willow has already exited David Jones and stopped its online trading.
The closure comes after Apparel Group acquired a majority share in the business in 2011. Kit was let go just two years later, from the brand she personally built from the ground up.
At the time, Apparel Group released a statement stating that Kit "is no longer a part of Willow … It's business as usual."
Understandably, Kit was distraught.
“Overnight I lost my business, but was not just losing a business, it was like losing a family and a child,” she said last year.
“You put so much vision and effort and energy into it that it becomes a part of you. All of a sudden that was all gone.”
Proving that you can’t kick a designer out of her own label, the brand began to suffer and an inevitable decline ensued. By the time 2016 rolled around, Apparel Group was unable to find a buyer and Willow was forced to close.
It isn’t all bad news for Kit, however, who is thriving with her new label, KITX.
KITX launched just last year and already boasts boutiques in both Melbourne and Sydney, as well as being carried in David Jones stores and other stockists around the country. In May this year, the brand staged a show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
KITX has been praised for its sustainable and ethical focus, and Kit is excited about its growth.
"It's only been selling for one year – it's still a baby – but everything is more than what we've expected. The Australian consumer is very savvy and you will connect with her as long as you have a unique vision."
It would appear when one door closes, another one opens. We will miss our dear friend Willow, however. Gone but never forgotten.