Puppets and Puppets: The Demise of a New York Fashion Brand

Carly Mark’s Decision to Close Shop and Move to London Leaves Fashion Industry Speculating

In a surprising turn of events, Puppets and Puppets, a six-year-old New York fashion brand and art project, recently announced its closure. Founder and designer Carly Mark cited the challenges and expenses of running a fashion business in the city as the primary reasons for her decision. With a cult-like following and a reputation as “downtown N.Y. gold,” the brand’s demise raises questions about the importance of fashion brands and the impact of their closure.

A Promising Brand That Never Quite Found Its Footing

Puppets and Puppets’ closure may not be entirely unexpected in the fashion industry, as history is filled with once-promising brands that failed to reach their full potential. While Mark was nominated for a CFDA award as an emerging designer of the year, critics argue that the clothes were never exceptional. The garments often had awkward fits, lacked practicality, and appeared unfinished. Mark, who is primarily a fine artist, was learning on the job, which resulted in a collection that seemed like a work in progress. However, there were signs of improvement over time.

The Influence of Puppets and Puppets’ Cult Following

Despite the brand’s shortcomings, Puppets and Puppets managed to amass a dedicated cult following. This loyal fan base, often seen as an indicator of success in the fashion industry, highlights the brand’s influence and impact. Puppets and Puppets became known for its unique aesthetic, with a particular fondness for Edie Sedgwick tights. While the clothes may not have been universally praised, the brand’s ability to capture the attention and devotion of a niche audience cannot be overlooked.

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The Challenges of Building a Fashion Business in New York

Mark’s decision to relocate to London underscores the difficulties faced by fashion designers in New York. The city’s high costs and intense competition make it a challenging environment for emerging brands. Despite being labeled as “downtown N.Y. gold,” Puppets and Puppets struggled to sustain itself financially. Mark’s decision to focus on her more lucrative handbag business while leaving behind the runway and clothing production reflects the harsh realities of the fashion industry. It raises questions about the sustainability of fashion brands and the need for alternative business models.

The Intersection of Fashion and Art

Puppets and Puppets blurred the lines between fashion and art, with Mark’s background as a fine artist influencing her design approach. The brand’s garments often felt like wearable artworks, pushing the boundaries of traditional fashion conventions. While this artistic experimentation may have limited the brand’s commercial success, it also contributed to its unique appeal. Puppets and Puppets served as a reminder that fashion can be a form of self-expression and a platform for artistic exploration.


The closure of Puppets and Puppets may not have a significant practical impact on the fashion industry, given the brand’s limited commercial success. However, it raises thought-provoking questions about the importance of fashion brands and the challenges faced by emerging designers in New York. Puppets and Puppets’ ability to cultivate a dedicated following despite its flaws highlights the power of niche aesthetics and the influence of cult brands. As the fashion industry continues to evolve, the intersection of fashion and art, as exemplified by Puppets and Puppets, serves as a reminder of the potential for creativity and innovation within the industry.

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