Lisa Gorman reached a tipping point — 35 stores in Australia — that was enough to push the designer overseas where she’s unveiled her first international door in West Hollywood.
“We have 35 stores and that’s enough for us here because I don’t really want to change the aesthetic of the brand to make it become more suited to a mass market,” the designer said. “So rather than doing that, I thought I’d explore overseas options. I started looking at Asia and other countries that weren’t too disparate from our own climate. I wanted to test the waters in another country without creating full Southern and Northern Hemisphere collections.”
The designer shopped several retail districts in the Los Angeles area before settling on a 3,480-square-foot space on Melrose Avenue stocked with her women’s collections, marked by her use of punchy, brightly colored prints. The Melrose store will serve as a test for international interest in the Melbourne designer, she said.
“I want to see how this works for us and figure the first step is to really try and understand the market over there before we have a [store] rollout plan, because it might be that we go to really obvious places after L.A., like New York, or it might be that we stick to the Southern states that are climatically suited to our product and that’s the benefit of the flexibility,” Gorman said. “It’s like starting over again.”
The designer, who launched her label in 1999, is self-funded with no outside capital fueling her push outside of Australia.
Over the past 10 years, she’s expanded her reach via collaborations released four times annually with different local artists. Past collaborations have included capsules with artists such as Liz Payne and Dana Kinter along with illustrator and graphic design house Atelier Bingo. She’ll bring the same concept over to the L.A. store and said she’s currently in talks with a few U.S. designers on a planned capsule release in September.
“It was a very unintentional move in terms of business,” Gorman said of her first collaboration, which was with a friend from Melbourne. “It just unfolded really. It allows us to remain fresh. As a fashion brand, you have a signature look and that’s what your role is, but [the collaborations are] expressed through other artists. It’s not boring. I don’t get stuck….The artist collaborations allow us to wear many different skins and ultimately it’s the curation of collaborating artists that create the brand.”
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