How Paula’s Ibiza Is The Gateway to Loewe
On Friday, Jonathan Anderson and Mytheresa took over L.A. party palace the Sheats-Goldstein residence to bring a touch of island life to Beverly Hills, celebrating the latest Loewe Paula’s Ibiza collection.
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, Dan Levy and Kaitlyn Dever came dressed in denim, sunset-hued degrade and palm-frond tops for the resort party, which was time zones away from where the beach lifestyle brand was born off the coast of Spain in 2017, and proof of its ability to travel and grow.
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The first two years of the brand’s growth were “explosive,” with sales tripling every year, according to Loewe chief executive officer Pascale Lepoivre. “Once it reached scale, sales have continued to grow at 30 to 35 percent each year. As a result of that we’ve consistently increased the number of doors featuring the collection, which currently stands at 167 worldwide,” she told WWD.
Coming to L.A. this year to celebrate Paula’s was a natural since in November Loewe opened its first store on Rodeo Drive, now the number-two door in the U.S.
The event also marked a partnership with Mytheresa, the German luxury e-commerce player that’s been growing rapidly in the U.S..
“These events serve multiple purposes; it’s an opportunity to invite our best customers to attend an event where the designer is present, that’s a rare occasion…And we know our heavy spenders love the opportunity to dive into the fashion industry,” said Mytheresa chief executive officer Michael Kliger. “Second purpose is to create awareness and amplification. We want as a team for Loewe and Mytheresa to be talked about, to be seen, and we hope to have help with media, celebs and social media. And third is we have a long-standing partnership with Loewe, we have worked with Loewe and Jonathan’s own brand on campaigns and events, so we felt, hey, let’s celebrate.”
Loewe is one of Mytheresa’s top five selling brands worldwide, and Paula’s Ibiza offers novelty at a 30 percent lower price point, with shorts, sandals, swimwear and other dressed-down pieces like rose-printed cropped cardigans and jeans, as well as accessories like anagram-logo raffia bags and leather seahorse bag charms, plus home and body fragrances with coconut musk and other summertime notes.
It was Anderson’s idea to reach out to the founders of the by-then defunct Paula’s Ibiza boutique, Armin Heinemann and Stuart Rudnick, for a capsule collection, using their artwork on his pieces. The shop was a bohemian hotspot on the island in the the ’70s and ’80s, when it welcomed everyone from Freddie Mercury to Jean Paul Gaultier, to a young, vacationing Anderson. The partnership was a success from the first collection out in summer 2017, and the relationship developed to the point where it became an annual collection.
“It is a great entry point into the brand as it portrays a modern Spanish lifestyle, craftsmanship through basketry, and has a deep connection to music culture, as you can see from this year’s campaign which features Karol G and Bad Gyal, amongst others,” noted Lepoivre.
“The [stock keeping unit] count has almost doubled and we have significantly increased the number of categories to include pouches, animal bags, fragrance, sunglasses, swimwear and lifestyle accessories,” she said.
The brand has driven awareness through pop-ups (at Neiman Marcus in Dallas and Bergdorf Goodman in New York, among others this season), recruiting new customers as Loewe expands its own store network.
The biggest demographic buying is in their 30s, and the 18-to-24 age group is the fastest growing customer year-on-year, Lepoivre said, noting this year’s top seller has been the new Loewe Font Tote, a raffia bag that retails for $1,100 and up.
But Paula’s Ibiza is not a diffusion line. “It has the same level of craft and quality as our other collections and contains many intricately crafted leather pieces in ready-to-wear bags and accessories. In this year’s collection for example we have the leaf dress in nappa created using our intarsia technique,” she said.
While the range is popular with existing clients, “Paula’s Ibiza definitely drives customers to our other collections. From the clients whose first purchase was Paula’s in 2021, almost half of them are engaged with our brand now and have bought ready-to-wear and women’s bags,” the executive said.
Lepoivre would not share how much of Loewe’s overall business Paula’s represents, but did say the investment in the brand is ongoing. “We acquired the Paula’s Ibiza trademark and the archives from the founders after collaborating for a few years,” she said, adding that the design team does run the collections by Heinemann and Rudnick before they are launched.
Paula’s also has a charitable aspect befitting Loewe’s overarching support of craft through its prize program and other initiatives.
Woven raffia Font Totes and Iraca palm bags are the brand’s hero accessories, and for every one sold, Loewe donates 15 euros to the local communities who hand-make them.
“Our baskets in particular are crafted by artisans around the world and it’s important for us to support those local communities who are making these products by hand,” Lepoivre said, explaining the collaboration with children’s rights organization Plataforma de la Infancia. “The donations we make will help create a university scholarship program for the children of artisans in Nariño, Colombia, and build a craft training school in Antananarivo, Madagascar.”
The Paula’s Ibiza brand has also helped elevate the business of resort fashion, which has gained a higher profile in recent years because of luxury brands’ globetrotting runway shows, as well as the success of transporting resort-only fashion concepts like Zimmerman and others that have blossomed into full-fledged lifestyle brands.
“[Jonathan] started it, it wasn’t his intention, it was his intention to celebrate his experience,” said Kliger. “In hindsight he was way ahead of everyone else.”
Launch Gallery: A Look at the Loewe Paula’s Ibiza 2023 Collection
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