This Is Why Tamara Mellon Is Relaunching her Brand in Los Angeles
The co-founder of Jimmy Choo speaks about starting over after filing for bankruptcy last year and the growth of the fashion and art scene in L.A. "LA is at a tipping point right now and it’s having this real renaissance moment."
Gliding through the sun-lit Greenhouse at Platform in Culver City, Tamara Mellon, co-founder of Jimmy Choo and founder of her namesake luxury label that filed for bankruptcy in December, almost blends in. Recently relocated to L.A., the 48-year-old is clad in a black dress she “just found at a vintage store," chatting with the crowd before a panel discussion with Katherine Power, co-author of "The Career Code" and CEO of Clique Media Group.
Before the event, Mellon chatted with Pret-a-Reporter about her new start in L.A., the planned September re-launch of her Tamara Mellon brand (price points will be lower than before, but designs will still be sexy, strong and confident, and the business model will be direct-to-consumer), and advice she has for young women.
Pret-a-Reporter: Is it scary to be starting over?
Tamara Mellon: It’s actually really exciting. This is the first time that I feel like I’m really going to be authentically me, and I have an amazing team now to help me execute it so, no it isn’t scary, actually I’m more excited.
Where did that decision come from to move to LA?
I feel that there’s a migration west. I feel like LA is at a tipping point right now, and it’s having this real renaissance moment. The music world has transitioned west. The art world is exploding. Technology is exploding here. There are more startups than ever before, and I want to be on the tipping point of that. I want to be ahead of the curve of that. And so for creativity, for art, for fashion, for music, I want to be in that moment, which I think is really exciting in LA.
How does LA style differ from New York style?
Well, obviously LA has its own look, which is more casual. But, I think it’s developing a look which is becoming global, and everyone is now looking at LA for their style inspiration, and that never used to be the case. It used to be New York, London, Paris, Milan, and LA now is really rising.
Something that you’ve been talking about is that you’re not going to adhere to “the fashion calendar.” How does not adhering to the calendar benefit your business model, and do you think that viewpoint is catching on throughout the fashion industry?
I think it’s catching on. There’s a huge conversation about ‘buy now, wear now,’ which is what I tried to do three years ago [with my fashion line]. And what that means is shortening the gap between showing the product and when the customer can buy it. So, we’re going to be doing monthly fashion drops, so the customer can come to our website and she has something new and exciting to see every month. But at the same time, we’re going to be selling timeless classics, which never go out of fashion. So, we all have things in our closet that we repeat-buy all the time, and we’re going to have those available to her.
Katherine Power is going to be joining you today. She was a pioneer in bringing a print-magazine feel to online, how can you relate to her in trying to be a pioneer in the luxury shoe industry, as she was a pioneer in her own sense?
Well, we’re pioneering, really, the next generation of luxury, and that’s how I feel I kind of connect with her on that. Because we’re also building this in a very different way, a lot of traditional fashion positions no longer exist in this business. We’re looking for people to run an ecommerce site, data analysis, engineers. Whereas a traditional fashion business, you’d have people who did wholesale, and sales, so we’re thinking about building the next generation of luxury and what that looks like.
Can you give me a sense of your vision for the re-launch?
You know, I think all women love shoes. I always say there are no demographics with us. So, it’s really all women love shoes and that’s what we want to be about, we want to be able to service women with this brand. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your income is, what you do, we want all women to come on board with this.
Do you have any advice for women who want to start a career in the fashion industry?
I would probably say, you know what I did, start at the bottom. I think it’s really important to understand a business from the ground up, even though we’re in a massive transitional phase of the industry, and the fashion industry will never operate again like it has done for the last 50 years. But I would say, no job is too small, learn from the ground up, and believe in what you’re doing. Or be with a company that you really believe in.