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How Tyler Ellis built a brand on DTC engagement

By Robyn Turk

25 Feb 2019


As the daughter of late fashion designer Perry Ellis, accessories designer Tyler Ellis was quite familiar with the industry when founding her eponymous line in 2011. The LA-based designer realized when launching her brand that the luxury market for accessories was largely dominated by the global conglomerates and therefore found a niche for herself as an independent label that offers consumers an individual and authentic product, whose design and quality could rival those of the big fashion houses.

“I travel a lot and noticed that globally, across both Europe and Asia, the women were all carrying the same brand,” Ellis explained to FashionUnited. “I wanted to create a product of equal or better quality that was unique.”

A self-professed “accessories girl,” Ellis designs pouches, clutches, backpacks, totes and handbags with a timeless appeal that simultaneously shows a thoughtful nod towards current trends. Ellis has found that her privately owned brand has the advantage to engage with its consumer more than a larger conglomerate.

Through hosting trunk shows and shopping events, Ellis meets her international customers on a personal level and include the client in the design process. This allows her to even offer bespoke items to shoppers she meets along her routes if a shopper shares that she is looking for a particular color or material that Ellis hadn’t included in the main collection.

Direct-to-consumer engagement increases direct-to-consumer sales

With this unique and personal retail strategy, most of Ellis’ sales come from direct-to-consumer efforts - both shopping events she hosts and her e-commerce site.

“For me, direct to consumer is better because I can explain the details and quality and craftsmanship that goes into creating each piece,” she explained. “Instead of a shopper walking up to a piece at a department store and seeing that it’s 1500 dollars for a velvet bag and not knowing why. So it’s more about explaining and getting people to touch and feel the product and hearing the whole backstory.”

Ellis nonetheless maintains wholesale partners across the globe and uses observations from engagement with her clients to influence the brand’s wholesale strategy.

Direct insights from her consumers show Ellis which trends and styles perform best region to region, so she knows which items to bring to global events and provide to wholesalers. She noted that her New York shoppers tend more towards black colorways and large items, while her LA clientele prefers more colorful, smaller bags.

“Because it’s a high price point, in wholesale, it needs to be a very special place,” Ellis said. The average price point of her collection is around 3,000 dollars, with an alligator handbag retailing at 11,600 dollars and a velvet pouch that costs 1,250 dollars at the high and low points of the price range.

Along with Farfetch, Ellis’ collection retails at Joseph on London’s Sloane Street. The brand also launched on online fashion, art and furniture marketplace 1st Dibs in January. The site also carries brands including Hermès, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. While it is still early to judge results of the partnership, Ellis shared that the new venture is exciting as it brings in a new array of consumers.

Ellis is holding upcoming trunk shows in Houston from March 20-22 before heading to Beverly Hills in April, Boston and Newport in May and then Hong Kong and Singapore.

Photos: courtesy of brand

tyler ellis