STAGING A STORE: Dai founder Joanna Dai returns to New York this weekend to open a pop-up store in the Bowery that will be as much about special events as will it be about clothes.
She initially relocated to London for her job at J.P. Morgan in 2013, and wound up launching her own direct-to-consumer company in July 2017. Geared for “urban, modern career women,” the location of this week’s pop-up made sense since Dai came from New York and still has part of her network here. A number of special events are planned during the April 2 to 7 run at 208 Bowery. A two-hour styling event with Dai, a post-work meditation with Aiko Neligan, destress yoga with Magi Pierce and styling with Bloomberg’s global head of on-air wardrobe Sara DiMedioare among them.
There are also plans to introduce the Performances Spaces concept in London perhaps for a monthlong store in Soho or Covent Garden, before trying it out a second time in New York. Dai declined to reveal her self-funded company’s annual sales. Aware of the frustrations working women face for wardrobe choices, she set out to try and do something about it. After exiting a career in finance, she enrolled in London’s College of Fashion and then interned with Emilia Wickstead, who designed her wedding gown. A trip to Première Vision helped her to find innovative performance fabrics with the main one being sourced and patented by a “very environmentally responsible factory in Italy,” Dai said. “We produce everything in Europe in luxury tailoring factories.”
Based on timeless silhouettes, the product range is modernized with special touches. For example, Dai looked at Yves Saint Laurent’s “Le Smoking” jacket, before creating the more androgynous and functional Trail Blazer’s, which has internal passport pocket and foldable cuffs. Retail prices range from $115 for a shell top, $200 and up for trousers, $300 or so for dresses and $475 for blazers. Pants, which Dai and others have wear-tested by taking yoga classes, are expected to be bestsellers in New York, as well as the $275 Now and Forever blouses, he said. Mostly machine washable, the collection is travel-friendly and eco-certified. “It’s been really nice to launch this brand out of London because of the tailoring and the craftsmanship especially with that culture from Savile Row,” Dai said.