The designer’s untraditional rise has disrupted the luxury marketplace with rocker-friendly styles and social media prowess.
It’s a modern Cinderella story. After launching his namesake luxury brand in 2014 in an L.A. studio, Mike Amiri catapulted to success by way of discovery through social media, landing him placement in top-tier stores and fans among the Hollywood elite.
Amiri, who entered the fashion business at the age of 34 following a career in music, attributes his rise to his digital savvy.
“Traditionally, to be exposed to the market, you’re really dependent on your retail distribution or press and celebrity endorsements,” Amiri told FN. “With social media, it has allowed me to leverage press but also to introduce myself personally as an individual. My brand was built on personality and individuality.”
His debut ready-to-wear line did indeed reflect his life experience, with a collection of distressed, rocker-inspired jackets, jeans and tees. Footwear was added in winter 2016.
Major retailers took notice early on. For the spring ’16 season, Maxfield picked up a limited collection, and that same year, Barneys began stocking both his ready-towear and footwear.
“We’re an unusual company,” said Amiri. “We’re 100 percent independent, and there are few independent brands that situate themselves around luxury around the world. With that, there has been attention, and we’ve been much more visible to the powers that be.”
Chris Pepe, a former buyer at Barneys, was among Amiri’s early social media followers and brought the independent label into the fold after messaging the designer for a meeting.
He noted that Amiri’s footwear designs struck a chord among customers at the storied retailer. “We had his stacked boots initially,” Pepe recalled. “Those did really well. The following season, he expanded his collection with sneakers, and that was when he started the bandana boot, which has turned into an iconic piece for him. He took elements from stacked jeans and bandana prints to his footwear, so it made it easier for the consumer to understand.”
Other coveted retailers followed. Ssense, Mr Porter, Net-a-Porter, Galeries Lafayette, Lane Crawford and Joyce are now among the more than 150 accounts that carry the brand. In addition, this fall, Amiri debuted a permanent shop-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman, as well as a new store inside Selfridges.
Then there’s the star factor. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Steven Tyler and Odell Beckham Jr. have embraced Amiri’s rockabilly-meets-urban-streetwear aesthetic with gusto.
Maeve Reilly, a stylist who counts Hailey Baldwin among her clients, said Amiri’s distinct look works for stars across the board. “I’ve used his stuff on a lot of my girls — Halsey, Tinashe. I work with David Guetta, and he’s an Amiri guy,” Reilly said. “Mike is really aware of what’s now and what people want to wear and what the next thing is going to be.”
The label is on track to score $55 million in sales for 2019, which Amiri said has positioned him to expand his women’s apparel and accessories lines, as well as develop a show in Paris.
“What it’s allowed us to do is to scale — now we’re being more well-rounded,” Amiri said, adding that he plans to grow wisely. “When you’re smaller, you can be nimble, break the rules and move quick. What we recognize now is which rules we can break and what it means to convey luxury through messaging and product — and that’s where we’re going to build the brand.”
“MY BRAND WAS BUILT ON PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUALITY.”