Western & English Today

SOURCE 18

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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26 Western & English Today P H OTO G R A P H Y: CO U R T E S Y TA S H A P O L I Z Z I B R A N D A N D P O L I Z Z I FAM I LY INDUSTRY NEWS T asha Polizzi (pictured above), the iconic fashion designer and founder of her namesake clothing brand, passed away August 9, 2017, at the age of 72. Tasha began her career in fashion as a model in New York City, but she made her mark as a designer. Aer working in New York for well-known brands like Ralph Lauren (where she spent 10 years as director of women's design), Calvin Klein, and Banana Republic, Tasha settled with her husband, Jack Polizzi, in the Berkshires of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It was there, 27 years ago, that the couple opened their store, T.P. Saddleblanket, and Tasha started a design business that would leave an indelible mark on Western fashion. Cancer may have taken Tasha far too soon, but the qualities she instilled into her company are tightly sewn — a literal and figurative fabric for the future of Tasha Polizzi designs. "e most important thing that I think Tasha, my mom, le us with, other than her style that's always going to be a part of the company," says John Polizzi, Tasha's son and the company's vice president, "is her investment in people: e investment that my mom made in putting together a great staff, people that are self-motivating, self- starting — everything from our accounts receivable all the way to our design department. Everyone stepped up. So it was really her investment in people that has allowed us to continue." In a 2014 Western & English Today profile, Tasha said, "My goal is to build a bridge of giving back through teaching and mentoring the next generation, as was done for me." And that mission's success is evidenced in the ability of her staff members, such as lead designer Audrey Downer. She has been with the company more than 10 years, learning at Tasha's side first as an intern and then returning aer design school, eventually taking over design duties with Tasha's guidance. "At the end of the day, it really was [Tasha's] faith and trust in the people that she placed around the company that put her more at rest when it was time to hand [over] the reins," says John, who — with the help of his wife, Ashley — oversees the day- to-day company business. e company's staple inspirations remain. "We have a pretty simple plan and that manifests every year with the line. It's a little different as styles and modalities change, but our core concept of 'country clean' or 'country elegant' is what we go for." Tasha Polizzi pieces mix Western with English equestrian fashion, like serapes and plaid shirts with riding leggings and boots. "We like to talk about having a weekend lifestyle, the woman who is a business woman five days out of the week and wants to go to her weekend house, whether that's a lodge in Temecula or a pueblo in Santa Fe, and that's kind of where we like to be. We're very comfortable in that elegant country-weekend lifestyle space," says John. e latest collections can be found in the catalog and online, as well as at more than 400 brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the United States and Canada. Tasha Polizzi is looking forward to bringing its new line to customers at WESA in Denver this January, John says. "It's amazing, the energy there, so that's where we put our first step forward as a new company without our leader," John says. "It's been tough, but we feel like everything we do, every stitch in the clothing, every button, every piece of trim that we place on there, that she is looking down, and she's hopefully proud of what we're doing." Tasha Polizzi's staf f carries on her legacy By Lindsey Whelchel

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