FAKING FUR: More than three years after Maya Reik launched her company Marei 1998, the 20-year-old is stretching her ambition with a spinoff label called “I Am Furless.”
Building off the success of the faux fur items that have been offered from one season to the next, the designer has decided to capitalize on that interest. Her own company is self-funded with financial support from her family. The Italian-made collection is made possible through a 10-person team in the Tel Aviv home office, as well as outposts in Milan, New York and Los Angeles.
Seasonal trunk shows with Modus Operandi has helped to raise her profile, as have more traditional ones and wholesaling to select European boutiques and Marei 1998’s e-commerce site. About 60 percent of annual sales are driven by the company’s own site, she said. The main collection consists of about 30 styles retailing from $300 for a coat to $2,000 for an embroidered dress. By far, the faux fur coats have been bestsellers, Reik said.
The “I Am Furless” label is expected to launch in two weeks or so and will include handbags, scarves, sweatshirts and coats. A Paris photo shoot is planned with Daniel Jackont, who recently shot the brand’s first video for its spring collection. The 12-piece faux fur capsule collection will retail from $300 to $800. The plan is to introduce more projects every two to three weeks, she said.
Connecting with high-profile personalities like Bella Hadid, Amy Adams and Priyanka Chopra has boosted brand awareness. Reik said she pitched Hadid’s team and sent her a few faux fur coats, one of which she posted about on Instagram. Chopra, who has the same stylist as Hadid, then wore one publicly, the designer said, adding that a Marei stylist connected with Adams. “Sometimes it really affects sales and sometimes it just affects your followers on Instagram, Facebook and other social media. Sometimes they will buy a completely different items because they come to your web site,” Reik said.
Wanting to show how Marei 1998 shoppers are moving and living in the clothes, the founder tapped photographer Jackont to shoot a video near Tuscany. “He’s 24 and lives in Tel Aviv. I like to collaborate with young people, not always, but sometimes. He’s really creative and he has a very sophisticated way of looking at things when he’s filming,” Reik said. “Now I’m working with him on more projects.”
Her long-range plans include collaborating with non-fashion people, and potentially hosting lifestyle events designed to improve mental health. Having run the second idea by her mother, who is a psychologist, Reik said, “I see so many people my age, and older and younger, who are suffering from anxiety and depression. I would like to create lifestyle events where people could get help, talk together, create art and get out together.”