Striving to grow as a lifestyle brand, Amuse Society is making time to launch its first collaboration: watches with Nixon.
Cofounded by Mandy Fry, the former head of Billabong’s U.S. women’s division, the young contemporary brand is lining up six watches for the holiday season. Androgynous but designed for a woman’s wrist, the timepieces keep with an elevated aesthetic laced with sass favored by Millennials.
Some have leather bands and others have stainless steel chain links. The faces are tinted white or gold, and the word “amuse” is written right after the hot pink line indicating 5 o’clock. A style in gold stainless steel displays a palm print on the face. A chronograph model designed for frequent travelers like Fry shows a world map accented by a duo of dials indicating “here” and “there.” The back of each watch bears an engraving of the brand’s slogan: “beach vida bling.”
“Through social media, I was starting to see a trend of girls wearing watches again as accessories,” said Fry, who serves as creative director of the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based label. “They might not even have the time set. It’s an accessory as a minimal look — a cross between masculine and feminine.”
In only its second year at retail, Amuse Society aims to ride an organic wave of growth buoyed by collaborations. Its first apparel collection hit a medley of surf stores and contemporary boutiques in spring 2015. Summer Rapp, who cofounded the label and acted as copresident with Fry, left in March of that year to focus on her creative consultancy, Add Black. Paul Naude, who oversaw Billabong when Fry ran women’s design there, continues to co-own Amuse Society with Fry and run the operations. In addition to its youthful clothing that mixes surf and street style with a whiff of wanderflust, it offers bags and blankets created by Fry’s team of 12. Selling worldwide, it has offices on iconic surf stretches in the south of France and on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“We’re building it for longevity and being very careful and conscientious in our growth strategy,” Fry said. “We’re just not interested in building a brand in fast fashion. We’re building a lifestyle around the brand.”
A collaboration is a proven method for testing new categories in which Amuse Society might not already hold expertise. Fry hinted at a number of new joint ventures, but she wanted to keep most of them under wraps. She said the next release is slated for December, when Amuse Society starts selling 13 styles of shoes for spring, ranging from $60 slip-on sandals to $250 low-heel booties, made in partnership with Matisse.
Working with Nixon came naturally, as the Encinitas, Calif.-based watch maker was once part of Billabong’s portfolio. “With Nixon, we have a long history,” Fry said. “The reason we collaborated with them, really, is it’s a brand that overlaps between surf and boutique just like we do.”
Plus, through the collaboration, both Amuse Society and Nixon managed to land in stores that were new to their existing retail network. Set to ship Oct. 31, the half dozen watches will hit shops such as Shopbop, Revolve, Lulu’s and Proof Lab with prices running between $175 and $325.
“We’re expanding our reach through collaborations with like-minded brands in categories that we knew we couldn’t do on our own,” Fry said. Namely, she added, they’re all “newer brands doing business a little differently.”