For about as long as Olivia Palermo has been a fixture in the fashion industry — and that's over 10 years now — people have been wondering when she'd launch her own fashion line. Well, folks, that day is here.
"This is going into the next phase of the brand," Palermo tells Fashionista of the Olivia Palermo collection, which drops Thursday. "We were looking to expand and take it to the next chapter, and this was part of the plan: We started with the website, building out our retail component and then our editorial component. This is the third tier, the in-house ready-to-wear."
The Olivia Palermo brand — which includes this clothing line, as well as her website, which she reintroduced as an editorial and e-commerce platform in September 2019 — properly began three years ago, when she and her brother, Grant Palermo, established the company.
When OliviaPalermo.com relaunched last year with a shopping component, it was for a curated selection of third-party brands and some of Palermo's past design collaborations. Over the years, she's partnered with Nordstrom, Aquazzurra, Banana Republic and others on capsule collections. And though she's been asked about it for years, this is the first time Palermo is designing and releasing a line under her own name. To do so, she brought on a full design team led by Alice Fern, an alum of Rebecca Minkoff and Michael Kors.
"When Alice and I started working together, we decided to build out spring, pre-fall and fall mood boards and start there," she recalls. They began with a color palette that then evolved with the seasons, getting deeper and richer as they went from summer to autumn. They also went through Palermo's personal mood boards and her wardrobe archive, pulling out pieces she had in storage "so Alice was able to see what I was really drawn to and the fabrics that resonated with me." This process "really showed the tone of the collection," she says.
Those who have been following Palermo's style — be it at fashion week or on the red carpet — for the decade-plus she's been in the public eye will recognize her aesthetic and preferences throughout. Her "community" (i.e. her readers and 6.3+ million followers) played a role in the development of the line as well: It was a marriage of "speaking to the Olivia Palermo community, hearing what they want" and her own desire for good quality, variety and ease in mixing and matching. "We are a worldwide brand, so we want to make sure that everybody around the world at all seasons have access to the collection as well," she says.
Palermo's existing e-commerce business was also helpful for feedback. Derek Conrad, the company's vice president of communications & partnerships says that having an e-boutique focusing specifically on accessories has allowed the team to get a sense of "where our shoppers are, what their price points [is] at, what they're interested in." They pass all that information on for Palermo to consider but, "ultimately it's about what resonates to her. That's really what drives business," he says.
The first drop is for Spring 2020. Prices start at $275 (for a silk, lace-trimmed camisole) and cap out at $1,595 (for leather outerwear). As of Thursday, the Olivia Palermo collection will be available on OliviaPalermo.com, as well as at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores, saks.com and select specialty stores around the globe.
"We were very quiet about showing the collection," Palermo says of seeking out a retail partner for her debut line. "We had a short list of [places] we reached out to, and of course Saks was on top of our list, Roopal [Patel, Saks Fifth Avenue's SVP Fashion Director] being one of my longtime girlfriends. It was a natural fit."
"We have a very interesting price point and we sit on the floor in an interesting way," Palermo continues. "We're not contemporary, we're not young designer — kind of a hybrid of both. We're getting towards a specific price point and consumer. We want to make sure that the quality is the best it can be, that things are made where they should be made and that you can just constantly re-wear and rework things."
The decision to partner with another retailer also goes back to the "Olivia Palermo community," according to Conrad: "As digital-first as Olivia and her business are, she herself is very old school [with her shopping]. Having that brick-and-mortar opportunity — for her community to be able to go in to a Saks or to a specialty boutique and be able to try on and touch and feel close to the clothes — is really important to her."
As far as how she sees the Olivia Palermo collection growing in the future, its namesake remains tight-lipped — however, she assures me that here's hope for bigger things down the line: "We're building a longterm business."
See the rest of the lookbook for Olivia Palermo's Spring 2020 collection in the gallery below: