How Resort Brand Saint Holiday Survives Its Sophomore Year In A Pandemic

With the current pandemic still looming, travel remains limited in thought for many as some find ways to escape to beaches and resorts in these mundane times. Fashion has responded in many ways, making facemask part of their collections and slowing down their production process for a matter of safety and sustainability. Trying times indeed, but life must go on, and what resort wear brand Saint Holiday realized as they prepped their fourth collection.

In its Sophomore year, Saint Holiday was shaken by the COVID pandemic like most other brands. After successfully gaining ground on the resort fashion market, selling with retailers like Barney’s aside from other boutiques and hotels, the summer of 2020 didn’t look as promising.

Founders Kate Lessa and Vijay Paintal understood that the aesthetic of travel was becoming an afterthought for consumers as airlines and other retail and restaurant locations closed down around the world. Resort wear would be obsolete in the interim as vacation destinations impacted by COVID and had mandatory shutdowns and quarantine. 

The Saint Holiday line started as ethical crafters creating the modern caftan and tunic styles. Clean and uncomplicated travel inspired pieces seemed fitting as the economy was better than now, back in 2019. Kate and Vijay had the luxury of sourcing unique and sustainable fabrics from around the world from places like Japan, India, and Italy. 

From there, they could work with those fabrics back in NYC. With a local team in the garment district, they would have their samples made in house. 

After several months of design trial-and-error, Kate and Vijay settled on harmonious designs that represented the ethos of their jet-setting leisure line. From then, the duo sought to create a line that felt more natural and flowed with the seasons for Spring/Summer 2021. Using material like linen in a ranging palette consisting of soft neutral tones, blush, gold, white, and adding corals and island themes in prints. 

They refuted the norms of the traditional fashion schedule early into their existence. The first quarter of 2020 foreshadowed problems on the horizon, although. Kate notes that her partner was in-tune enough to figure out the lay of the fashion industry as lockdowns soon followed COVID announcements back in March. 

“Vijay was quick to realize the impact, he anticipated the extended industry shutdown early on, and we immediately pressed pause on manufacturing. We sat tight for a little bit. The uncertainty was overwhelming,” Kate explains.

She recalls stalling on designing a new Saint Holiday collection with any immediacy.  “We were definitely nervous to invest at that moment. There were a lot of accounts canceling and postponing orders,” Kate describes. The two were cautious and strategized steps to take to get through what would become a pandemic.

Kate and Vijay saw an opportunity to form bonds that would sustain their business over the lockdown period. In April 2020, the founders spoke with adjacent brands and buyers to discuss the best ways to move forward. Their sales team and factory were onboard for the revamp.

“There was so much creativity and ingenuity in the industry at that time; digital trunk shows, personal shopping, zoom photo shoots,” Kate recalls. Those inspirational efforts motivated the Saint Holiday team to shift the aesthetic toward a scope of comfort while “spending time at home and keeping it local.” Still wanting to maintain the brand DNA. 

Mood boards of previous collections were filled with images of getaways, scenic beaches and hotels, and souvenirs. This time around, the line was inspired by the notion of home and dressing in ways that feel good.

“[We] looked at a lot of textiles for the home, vintage sweatshirts, and cozy robes,” Kate describes the relaxed fits and softness of the garments. She continues, “I did find one amazing vintage Hawaiian shirt on eBay that influenced the print story and keeps our island vibe present.”

Now Saint Holiday is showing at the Paper Kiss showroom in London this December. The founders of Paper Kiss have an extensive history in the resort fashion market and why Kate and Vijay sought this showroom’s services and expertise. After a few casual conversations in their Instagram DM’s, Saint Holiday had a partner showroom they could be excited about the future with.

Vijay explains their excitement for the showroom’s capabilities; “Paper Kiss has created a hybrid model for market, appointments will be both virtual and in-person at a temporary space. They have built a digital platform so brands and buyers can easily access line sheets, look books, and orders.” 

Taking a deeper understanding of fashion markets, Saint Holiday is approaching this season and seasons moving forward with the “less but better” motto. As the economy has slowed, this has forced the duo to do business with more focus and intention. 

“Buy less, pay for quality, support small business, choose ethically made goods, and take care of the things you have. It’s only a small piece of the grander picture but we really connect to that movement,” Kate explains of their cognizance. 

The Saint Holiday design duo is steady at pace, working toward a better future for their brand and the planet which plays a role as the backdrop of their resort wear. “We believe in slow fashion and slow growth,” says Vijay. Aiming to grow the wholesale portion of their business while investing in their direct channel will be how this resort line sails forward and the travel industry starts to open back up.

Kate remains optimistic about the brand, backing up the Saint Holiday name with quality and transparency. “We want to be known for making special things that last. It’s not enough to put your creative vision out there anymore.”

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