Melissa Akkaway is getting ready to go all-in with Beckley, her Los Angeles-based contemporary line of clean, unfussy womenswear. But she had to let another part of her business go in the process.
Akkaway has retail in her blood — the name of her label comes from a Las Vegas men's store her family owned in the early 1900s called Beckley's (Beckley is her grandmother's maiden name). In 2008, she opened a boutique on Melrose with the same name, which quickly became popular and eventually moved to Third Street alongside some of the city's coolest shops, like Satine and Milk. In 2011, she launched an in-house line which started with "nine or 10 pieces I felt were missing, and things I felt we could do a little bit better," Akkaway told Fashionista over the phone. It gradually became a full collection, which she started to sell wholesale three seasons ago through a showroom. In January, she closed the store to focus on the line.
"I felt like I wanted to take the line to the next level, and I felt that I needed to put 100 percent of my attention on it," she said of her decision.
For spring, she decided to take sales into her own hands, "to get feedback from people and really work face to face with the buyers to hear what they're looking for." She has taken a similarly hands-on approach to production, manufacturing everything in Los Angeles (in a factory that also works with Reformation and other local brands), which allows her check in, see how things are coming along and thereby avoid major production problems that can occur when your product is being manufactured somewhere less accessible.
Akkaway is still in the early stages of transitioning Beckley from a small in-house collection to a full-fledged fashion line — so far, she's only sold in a few small boutiques and on her website — but now that it's her sole focus, Beckley seems poised for growth. Her fall collection looks good aesthetically — it's crisp and wearable with a tomboy edge that feels very current — and everything is priced under $500.
On Wednesday, Akkaway will open a pop-up shop in New York at 85 Mercer Street. The pop-up, which will stay up through April 26, coincides with the debut of short film by Jake Davis (watch above) that reflects Akkaway's signature aesthetic, plus an ad campaign to be wheat-pasted throughout downtown Manhattan.
The pop-up could be a testing ground for Akkaway to return to her retail roots. "It will be interesting to see, having the store primarily [selling] our line, how that translates. The goal is to sell to more stores and get more wholesale accounts, and try to figure out if it's an option for us to open our own stores in the future." Perhaps Beckley, the store, won't be gone for too long.