LOS ANGELESValfré’s been quietly growing its base of loyalists for its apparel and accessories bearing the work of artist Ilse Valfré, and the company’s poised to hit the mainstream.

The label has dipped a toe into wholesale after steadily amassing fans since its start in late 2013 as a direct-to-consumer brand derived from Valfré’s blog, which showcased her whimsical, yet edgy designs. The company recently entered Topshop’s L.A. and New York stores under a concession agreement and will expand to the retailer’s London stores next month.

“It was always her [Valfré’s] vision to create a brand out of this and so what we wanted to do was focus mainly on direct-to-customer so we could test and see what top products really resonated with the community,” said ceo Donald Eley. “We’ve been testing for the first three and a half, four years and feel like we figured out which products work best and wanted to create more visibility so we thought we could target a few key retail partners.”

The company made adjustments on the back end to begin producing product on a more structured, traditional calendar. Before, Eley said, the company released product when it wanted and when there was new art to share.

Topshop is stocked with the company’s hats, bags, tech accessories and fall apparel. Exclusives for the retailer are a possibility depending on how the brand performs, Eley said.


Valfré  Courtesy Photo

“We share a similar demographic,” Eley said of why it made sense to bring the brand into Topshop first. “Our demographic is 18- to 24-year-old fashionable girls who are into music, art and all things creative.”

Valfré is also in talks with additional retailers, with plans to open its own flagship in Los Angeles by mid-2019. Its distribution partners in Japan would then follow that store template and bring the concept to Asia, Eley said.

Valfré, to date, has been self-funded and managed to grow the business — which employs 15 people in downtown — to what’s projected to be $5 million in sales this year.

The company’s now looking to go out and raise its Series A, with the capital funneled toward the hiring of more designers and other employees in addition to boosting product development.

“We’ve been able to come out with some unique products that resonate with the girls that follow the brand and we’ve been able to scale that and remain creative through the years,” Eley said. “We’re an art-based company and I think people respond well to art and Ilse’s work really lends itself to multiple categories.”

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