Westward Leaning is betting on Olivia Palermo’s selling power.
Editorial coverage of the 28-year-old, front-row regular and former reality star wearing Westward Leaning sunglasses has spurred more sales for the company’s e-commerce site than shots of much bigger stars — Justin Bieber, Charlize Theron or Jessica Alba — sporting the brand.
And today, the company will capitalize on that trend and release an eight-style collaboration designed in partnership with Palermo that will be sold for $210 a pair exclusively at oliviapalermo.com/olivia-palermo-x-westward-leaning/.
“Keyword searches featuring Olivia or some derivative of her name are the only individual-specific keywords in the top tier of revenue-driving organic searches related to Westward Leaning,” cofounder Robert Denning told WWD. “No other person makes it into the top echelon, [or] has the kind of conversion power that Olivia has. When Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez broke up, he left wearing the pair of sunglasses we’d gifted Selena. I thought it would lead to a huge spike in sales, but didn’t move the dial at all.”
The collaboration with Palermo includes black, tortoiseshell, frosted white and frosted gray translucent frames with either faux sea glass or blackened redwood inlay on the temples. All styles have tarnished gold, mirrored lenses.
Palermo said “gold is the new tan” and noted the collection was striving to be “elegant, cool and not too in-your-face.”
Westward Leaning launched as an e-tail site in March 2012 with the intent of building a direct-to-consumer business. But interest from Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony, bloomingdales.com, saks.com and Urban Outfitters — all of which now carry the brand — caused the company to change course, Denning said. The eyewear is carried in more than 70 doors worldwide, up from 25 in November, and more than half of the company’s sales now come from wholesale accounts.
“If I had my way, it would have always stayed as an online business,” Denning said. “I would make sure the tissue paper was folded exactly how I wanted to. But you can’t reach the audience you want. A lot of pure-play e-commerce startups are starting to realize that this snobby attitude toward ‘generic retail’ is starting to change. It’s a bias and more and more brands are realizing what we’ve realized. There is this huge segment of the customer base that is untapped if you don’t move beyond your own Web site.”
“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