Home Online Earning Designer Spotlight: Online Shopping Pioneer Cuyana Becomes Luxury Design House Direct To Consumer

Designer Spotlight: Online Shopping Pioneer Cuyana Becomes Luxury Design House Direct To Consumer

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Cuyana, best known as a pioneer and innovator in the direct-to-consumer space, joining the likes of Warby Parker and Everlane, has unveiled its own meticulously executed luxury designs. The strategic move brings Cuyana, once again, to the forefront as a leader in the next phase of retail.

Cuyana founders Karla Gallardo & Shilpa Shah are proving that just because a DTC fashion brand has a personal, deep, enduring relationship with its customers does not mean its design skills have been second thought. Cuyana is a design house on par with traditional luxury brands like Chloé, Gucci and Céline, but at competitive prices.

Launching this fall/winter season, Cuyana will offer customers, including the professional women, the opportunity to further elevate her go-to, everyday wardrobe basics. Each piece is made with luxurious materials and created by skilled craftsman throughout Europe, South America, and the United States.

An understated, exotic, croc-embossed satchel bag (or backpack, shoulder bag, envelope wallet, etc.) crafted in Italy using a new, natural-grain leather is available and at a fraction of the price of traditional luxury brands. Along with tailored, Italian-made, wool-cashmere coats; an elegant, Alpaca reversible-cardigan made in Peru; cozy, Mohair sweaters & complementary beret hats with custom gold buttons; plus a discreet, supple, lamb-leather, wrap skirt; and custom, shoulder straps to mix-and-match with Cuyana’s handbags are just a few of the new additions. New items are released throughout each season.

Cuyana fashion & accessories are available to purchase at its San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Dallas retail store locations, in addition to its own website.

Prior to Cuyana, Gallardo worked at Apple and Goldman Sachs after earning her MBA from Stanford and ScB in Applied Mathematics from Brown University. Shilpa worked at Disney as Manager of Information Architecture and Design Director at Punchcut after earning both her MBA & BA from UC Berkeley.

Kristina Moore: Cuyana is recognized as a pioneer in direct-to-consumer product designs. And, once again, you are pioneers, this time, in the competitive fashion & accessories space with quality equal to luxury brands, such as Gucci and Chloé. What prompted your decision?

Karla Gallardo: Designing through a direct-to-consumer model allows us to be part of the design and craftsmanship process from beginning to end, and tell a beautiful brand story across each customer touch point. Something that’s special about our brand is that the pieces themselves are infused with the stories of the countries in which they were made and the people who made them. We have close relationships with all of our family-run partners. Since we are direct-to-consumer, we are able to create a narrative around the beautiful quality and intricate craftsmanship that each piece embodies. It allows us to make quality accessible and our designs reflect this refined luxury through material and attention to detail.

Cuyana

Cuyana Founders Shilpa Shah & Karla Gallardo (L-R).

What were the brands/designers that influenced you? Who do you admire? And, why?

Shilpa Shah: We’ve always been inspired by iconic brands, who through commitment and consistency have provided the best products for their customers. These tried-and-true designers and producers who have been around for years are the footsteps we want to follow in. They are timeless, intentional and are always setting out to innovate the space.

Cuyana

Cuyana designs modern luxury fashions at competitive prices.

When I spoke to you in 2015, one of the pledges you made was high-quality fashions with competitive, accessible price points. Is attainable pricing still your priority?

Gallardo: We’re proud to continue the goal we set out to achieve and have kept prices accessible without sacrificing design, quality or attention to detail. This is something that has resonated with our customers from day one and it’s something that drives and motivates us everyday.

Does Cuyana’s ‘fewer, better’ philosophy still play a role today? If so, how; what is its evolution?

Shah: We are lucky to have created a company built with an ethos that is sustainable and timelessly relevant. Fewer, better things is at the heart of everything we do, and though we have explored different ways to express ourselves creatively, this is something we will always stay true to.

Cuyana

Cuyana’s new leather wrap skirt.

Tell us about Cuyana’s fall/winter collection. What is new; what inspired it? Which are your favorite pieces; why?

Gallardo: Fall/Winter 2017 is a celebration of femininity through both definition and design approach. We were passionate about challenging what beauty means in the modern day, considering above all real women and real experiences. Each piece is made for these women and the busy, multifaceted lives they live. The intention is for each piece to be effortless yet polished.

My favorite piece is our Structured Leather Tote. Its softer twin was one of our first pieces, and it has become an iconic Cuyana essential. This new structured version is a special evolution, crafted in Italy and reinforced in bonded Italian leather. It’s simple yet refined.

Cuyana

Gift giving ideas via Cuyana.

The holidays are around the corner. Is gifting an option at Cuyana? Any suggestions?

Shah: Yes! Our essential leather pieces are fail-safe gifts. They are beautifully crafted while also being functional. Our designs are created with purpose, and new holiday pieces like our mini heart pouches and jewelry cases are the perfect intentional gifts. We also offer options for customization, so the addition of a monogram ensures each piece feels personal.

We’re also continuing our Lean Closet initiative this season, inspiring customers to pare down their closets and donate that clothing to charity via our nonprofit partner HEART. The program is the heartbeat of the brand and through it, we’re inspiring women to actually shop less. Especially during the busy holiday season, we want women to focus on buying pieces they truly love.

Cuyana

Cuyana’s leather bags are customer favorites.

Recently, Cuyana collaborated with Creatures of the Wind and La Ligne. What prompted this decision?

Shah: Both of these projects were opportunities to partner with other brands that share our sensibility and values.

When we met Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters of Creatures of the Wind, we instantly felt that there was an exciting possibility for partnership. While our business models are very different, we found that we shared the same values and perspectives. Whether it be a very considered design approach or finding inspiration from unexpected sources, our companies were built on producing and creating pieces conscientiously. We’re so proud of the finished product of high-fashion handbags, which debuted on the runway at New York Fashion Week this fall.

We were also thrilled to partner with Meredith Melling, Valerie Macaulay and Molly Howard of La Ligne on a capsule earlier this month. As design houses lead by female founder’s who are always traveling, we came together to create a collection of pieces for effortless travel that lends itself well to the lifestyles of the modern woman. Our shared love of timeless style, commitment to lasting craftsmanship, and passion to empower women through our businesses made it a really strong partnership.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

Gallardo: I think the experience of growing a business is full of ongoing successes and failures: there is not one challenge that stands out to me as more insightful than another. I am a big believer in testing as a means of making decisions. Throughout every test that we do as a company, the outcome is either a relative success or failure. For example, opening a pop-up in a new market is a thoughtful way of testing whether a permanent store location is the best next step. Through these learnings, we are able to make more confident and intentional decisions as a business, particularly when difficulties or challenges arise.

Cuyana

A glimpse at Cuyana’s fall/winter collection.

Cuyana’s five year anniversary is coming up soon. Where do you see the brand over the next five years?

Shah: We are working hard to curate an assortment that offers everything you could desire in your core capsule closet. In 2018, we will be launching various products that our customers have been asking for to further build out an intentional collection. We are passionate about listening to our customers and continuing to deliver on our value proposition.

Our five-year plan is to stay true to our roots and continue to inspire our audience to live a fewer, better lifestyle. We will do this through developing our relationships with customers in different cities through retail activations and partnerships, and we will always hold true to our commitment to philanthropy and the Lean Closet movement.

How do you replenish your creativity and energy?

Gallardo: I began this year as a new mother. Raising my son and watching him experience so many things for the first time has been really incredible. I love seeing the world through his eyes. Spending time with him energizes me.

Shah: I have always been an avid traveler with a love of discovery. This year, my family and I took a ten day road trip in the Pacific Northwest where we camped and totally disconnected from the world. It was unforgettable.

“>

Designer Spotlight is a regular column focusing on style/design and the professional woman.

San Francisco-based fashion brand Cuyana, best known as a pioneer and innovator in the direct-to-consumer space, joining the likes of Warby Parker and Everlane, has unveiled its own meticulously executed luxury designs. The strategic move brings Cuyana, once again, to the forefront as a leader in the next phase of retail.

Cuyana founders Karla Gallardo & Shilpa Shah are proving that just because a DTC fashion brand has a personal, deep, enduring relationship with its customers does not mean its design skills have been second thought. Cuyana is a design house on par with traditional luxury brands like Chloé, Gucci and Céline, but at competitive prices.

Launching this fall/winter season, Cuyana will offer customers, including the professional women, the opportunity to further elevate her go-to, everyday wardrobe basics. Each piece is made with luxurious materials and created by skilled craftsman throughout Europe, South America, and the United States.

An understated, exotic, croc-embossed satchel bag (or backpack, shoulder bag, envelope wallet, etc.) crafted in Italy using a new, natural-grain leather is available and at a fraction of the price of traditional luxury brands. Along with tailored, Italian-made, wool-cashmere coats; an elegant, Alpaca reversible-cardigan made in Peru; cozy, Mohair sweaters & complementary beret hats with custom gold buttons; plus a discreet, supple, lamb-leather, wrap skirt; and custom, shoulder straps to mix-and-match with Cuyana’s handbags are just a few of the new additions. New items are released throughout each season.

Cuyana fashion & accessories are available to purchase at its San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Dallas retail store locations, in addition to its own website.

Prior to Cuyana, Gallardo worked at Apple and Goldman Sachs after earning her MBA from Stanford and ScB in Applied Mathematics from Brown University. Shilpa worked at Disney as Manager of Information Architecture and Design Director at Punchcut after earning both her MBA & BA from UC Berkeley.

Kristina Moore: Cuyana is recognized as a pioneer in direct-to-consumer product designs. And, once again, you are pioneers, this time, in the competitive fashion & accessories space with quality equal to luxury brands, such as Gucci and Chloé. What prompted your decision?

Karla Gallardo: Designing through a direct-to-consumer model allows us to be part of the design and craftsmanship process from beginning to end, and tell a beautiful brand story across each customer touch point. Something that’s special about our brand is that the pieces themselves are infused with the stories of the countries in which they were made and the people who made them. We have close relationships with all of our family-run partners. Since we are direct-to-consumer, we are able to create a narrative around the beautiful quality and intricate craftsmanship that each piece embodies. It allows us to make quality accessible and our designs reflect this refined luxury through material and attention to detail.

Cuyana

Cuyana Founders Shilpa Shah & Karla Gallardo (L-R).

What were the brands/designers that influenced you? Who do you admire? And, why?

Shilpa Shah: We’ve always been inspired by iconic brands, who through commitment and consistency have provided the best products for their customers. These tried-and-true designers and producers who have been around for years are the footsteps we want to follow in. They are timeless, intentional and are always setting out to innovate the space.

Cuyana

Cuyana designs modern luxury fashions at competitive prices.

When I spoke to you in 2015, one of the pledges you made was high-quality fashions with competitive, accessible price points. Is attainable pricing still your priority?

Gallardo: We’re proud to continue the goal we set out to achieve and have kept prices accessible without sacrificing design, quality or attention to detail. This is something that has resonated with our customers from day one and it’s something that drives and motivates us everyday.

Does Cuyana’s ‘fewer, better’ philosophy still play a role today? If so, how; what is its evolution?

Shah: We are lucky to have created a company built with an ethos that is sustainable and timelessly relevant. Fewer, better things is at the heart of everything we do, and though we have explored different ways to express ourselves creatively, this is something we will always stay true to.

Cuyana

Cuyana’s new leather wrap skirt.

Tell us about Cuyana’s fall/winter collection. What is new; what inspired it? Which are your favorite pieces; why?

Gallardo: Fall/Winter 2017 is a celebration of femininity through both definition and design approach. We were passionate about challenging what beauty means in the modern day, considering above all real women and real experiences. Each piece is made for these women and the busy, multifaceted lives they live. The intention is for each piece to be effortless yet polished.

My favorite piece is our Structured Leather Tote. Its softer twin was one of our first pieces, and it has become an iconic Cuyana essential. This new structured version is a special evolution, crafted in Italy and reinforced in bonded Italian leather. It’s simple yet refined.

Cuyana

Gift giving ideas via Cuyana.

The holidays are around the corner. Is gifting an option at Cuyana? Any suggestions?

Shah: Yes! Our essential leather pieces are fail-safe gifts. They are beautifully crafted while also being functional. Our designs are created with purpose, and new holiday pieces like our mini heart pouches and jewelry cases are the perfect intentional gifts. We also offer options for customization, so the addition of a monogram ensures each piece feels personal.

We’re also continuing our Lean Closet initiative this season, inspiring customers to pare down their closets and donate that clothing to charity via our nonprofit partner HEART. The program is the heartbeat of the brand and through it, we’re inspiring women to actually shop less. Especially during the busy holiday season, we want women to focus on buying pieces they truly love.

Cuyana

Cuyana’s leather bags are customer favorites.

Recently, Cuyana collaborated with Creatures of the Wind and La Ligne. What prompted this decision?

Shah: Both of these projects were opportunities to partner with other brands that share our sensibility and values.

When we met Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters of Creatures of the Wind, we instantly felt that there was an exciting possibility for partnership. While our business models are very different, we found that we shared the same values and perspectives. Whether it be a very considered design approach or finding inspiration from unexpected sources, our companies were built on producing and creating pieces conscientiously. We’re so proud of the finished product of high-fashion handbags, which debuted on the runway at New York Fashion Week this fall.

We were also thrilled to partner with Meredith Melling, Valerie Macaulay and Molly Howard of La Ligne on a capsule earlier this month. As design houses lead by female founder’s who are always traveling, we came together to create a collection of pieces for effortless travel that lends itself well to the lifestyles of the modern woman. Our shared love of timeless style, commitment to lasting craftsmanship, and passion to empower women through our businesses made it a really strong partnership.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

Gallardo: I think the experience of growing a business is full of ongoing successes and failures: there is not one challenge that stands out to me as more insightful than another. I am a big believer in testing as a means of making decisions. Throughout every test that we do as a company, the outcome is either a relative success or failure. For example, opening a pop-up in a new market is a thoughtful way of testing whether a permanent store location is the best next step. Through these learnings, we are able to make more confident and intentional decisions as a business, particularly when difficulties or challenges arise.

Cuyana

A glimpse at Cuyana’s fall/winter collection.

Cuyana’s five year anniversary is coming up soon. Where do you see the brand over the next five years?

Shah: We are working hard to curate an assortment that offers everything you could desire in your core capsule closet. In 2018, we will be launching various products that our customers have been asking for to further build out an intentional collection. We are passionate about listening to our customers and continuing to deliver on our value proposition.

Our five-year plan is to stay true to our roots and continue to inspire our audience to live a fewer, better lifestyle. We will do this through developing our relationships with customers in different cities through retail activations and partnerships, and we will always hold true to our commitment to philanthropy and the Lean Closet movement.

How do you replenish your creativity and energy?

Gallardo: I began this year as a new mother. Raising my son and watching him experience so many things for the first time has been really incredible. I love seeing the world through his eyes. Spending time with him energizes me.

Shah: I have always been an avid traveler with a love of discovery. This year, my family and I took a ten day road trip in the Pacific Northwest where we camped and totally disconnected from the world. It was unforgettable.

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