Ilori is working to change the way consumers view eyewear.
The luxury retail chain celebrates its one-year anniversary this week, maintaining the goal of offering customers exclusive product and top service in an austere, designer environment. Executives believe these efforts will push sunglasses as the next “It” accessory.
“Ilori was designed to target consumers whose needs were not being met, the true treasure hunters seeking new, unique, rare pieces,” said Michael Hansen, vice president and general manager. “So all aspects of Ilori have been designed to target that consumer. We think Ilori has influenced the category to become an important accessory. Shoes and bags are important to the luxury consumer, now it’s sunglasses and it’s reflected in our results.”
Hansen said the average sale at Ilori — just over $350 — is more than double that of a typical eyewear store. In addition, 16 percent of Ilori sales are multiple-pair purchases as opposed to 5 percent at other eyewear outlets.
“Ilori goes all the way to the heart and soul of what a luxury store should be,” said Sheila Vance, whose Sama, Loree Rodkin and Badgley Mischka lines retail there. “They endorse the idea that the future is all about service, quality and luxury.”
Hansen said each of Ilori’s 12 boutiques is pushing to average $1 million in sales annually by the end of its third year, and that “all of [Ilori’s] stores are ahead of expectations.” He cited Ray-Ban, Tom Ford, Persol and Chanel as top sellers and noted that the last week of August was Ilori’s best week to date.
“In a time period when the sun season goes down and the economy is bad, we’re continuing to set new milestones,” he said.
Luxottica Group, which owns the Ilori chain, will open six more stores by yearend. Current locations include New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Honolulu and Toronto.
Ilori has focused on luring the luxury consumer by offering limited edition pieces exclusive to the store. In August, it launched a yellow frame by Badgley Mischka with the phrase “Mark & James (heart) Ilori” decorating the temple. Hansen said he sold 10 units in two weeks. In July, Dolce & Gabbana introduced a limited edition crystal eyewear collection at the New York flagship. Sama made a $25,000 pair for the store that featured a pyramid of D-flawless and pavé diamonds.
“Our premise was to build an assortment of exclusive product and now 5 percent of our product is that or limited edition, and that’s something new for the sun category,” Hansen said. “It used to not be important to produce, but we’ve seen a tremendous amount of momentum in our vendors building limited editions.”
The store has also garnered credibility from eyewear designers, many of whom have played host at Ilori to fete their new collections. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler used the Manhattan space in SoHo in April to showcase their eyewear among Mary-Kate Olsen and Tory Burch. Thakoon and Derek Lam have used the space similarly. Next up is a collaboration with Valerie Steele in honor of her exhibit “Gothic: Dark Glamour” at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Ilori curated sunglasses celebrating Gothic style.
“Our overall strategy is to celebrate eyewear and treat it as a treasure, a work of art, and it’s displayed that way and designed to support that,” Hansen said. “It’s a great place to showcase and get consumers really excited about eyewear.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast