How Tamara Mellon and the tech effect changed Fashion in LA
The co-founder of Jimmy Choo drew on California’s digital culture when she came to launch her new company
Tamara Mellon was born in London, educated in England, attended a Swiss finishing school, but spent her summers in Los Angeles, where she still lives today, with her husband, the entertainment mogul Michael Ovitz.
Mellon, co-founder and former Chief Creative Director of the upscale shoe brand Jimmy Choo, knows how to make and sell extraordinary footwear. However, as she explains in our new book, Fashion in LA, the tech culture of 21st century California still had a lot to teach her, when she came to set up her new company.
“In 2016 she launched Tamara Mellon, her eponymous brand of luxury shoes,” explains our new book. “Her online company is an e-commerce site that cuts out the middleman, thus enabling her to sell Italian-made shoes at a price that used to be her wholesale cost at Jimmy Choo.
“Mellon envisions her operation less as a fashion brand than as a tech company: “We have a team of engineers on staff. When we started, I had to learn an entirely new language, ‘What’s a UX, a UI, what’s CAC?’
“She was a quick student, however, and found it easy to build a team in LA because she didn’t need people with a fashion or luxury background. ‘Even Jill Layfield, my CEO, doesn’t come from luxury. She ran a successful e-commerce company.’
“’I wanted a very different culture this time,’ says Mellon. ‘I wanted a culture that was very supportive, female-led, and willing to take a stand on issues that are of particular interest to myself, and many other women.’
“The offices are situated on a busy street in West Hollywood. They occupy the entire top floor of a perfect example of a Mid-Century office building: the large, open-floor workspace has pierced-steel ceiling beams and clerestory windows circle around the ceiling above.
“The brand ‘drops’ new seasonal inventory weekly, encouraging a ‘buy it now, wear it now’ philosophy that feeds the most avid shopper’s desires. Mellon is excited to connect to her customer in a completely different way. ‘Designers used to sit in their ivory towers, removed from the end user by layers of smoke and mirrors. Today’s customer wants to be heard, has opinions, and rights. With our technology and direct access, we’re giving everyone a voice.’”
Mellon has embraced LA with the passion of a person in love. "All the creative energy is in LA now. It’s having a renaissance. So many creative ideas begin here," she says in Fashion in LA.
For more well-tailored tales from La La Land, order a copy of Fashion in LA here. Going beyond the red carpet to profile more than 40 designers instrumental to its success. It's a who's who of talent, a true insider's guide to the men and women who have put twenty-first century Los Angeles on the world fashion map.