Emerg­ing Tal­ent

The de­signer’s un­tra­di­tional rise has dis­rupted the lux­ury mar­ket­place with rocker-friendly styles and so­cial me­dia prow­ess.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By CHAR­LIE CAR­BALLO

Mike Amiri

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.”

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