Nearly six years ago, Todd Kellogg created apparel brand LIRA as a way to fill the void of modern fashion he saw within the action sports market at the time. With half a dozen staff members working on the brand, including the recent addition of Brian Barlow as its new national sales rep, LIRA has been steadily building on its foundation to expand into categories such as swimwear and accessories. Besides launching a complete collection of men’s boardshorts, which include the 4-way Power Stretch and elastic waist volley, the brands women’s swimwear line has ramped up, and features a reversible separates collection as well as fashion-forward coverups. Not stopping there, the brand has recently unveiled a soft launch for headwear, backpacks, and duffle bags for next season.
“We want to continue to innovate and produce quality clothing and accessories by using our ability to consistently evolve with the collective consciousness of the consumer, while doing it at an affordable price,” says Kellogg. “We are working hard to grow the awareness of Lira to the consumer by working with the retailers on all levels as well as growing our marketing campaigns nationwide.”
On a recent trip up to the greater Los Angeles area, TransWorld popped in to LIRA to meet with Kellogg and learn more about what’s happening on the brand side, as well as the story behind Kellogg’s other company LA Blanks, which he founded with Cliff Haddadin, former CEO of Beach Bums.
Which retailers, both chain and core, carry LIRA? Have you been able to grow that distribution base? Do you hope to grow it more?
Lira reaches out to a broad customer base and you can see that by the retailers we partner with. We currently distribute to large chains like Nordstroms, Pac Sun, Zumiez, Tilly’s.... to key online retailers like Karmaloop and Swell as well as core accounts like Active and Sun Diego to name a few. We have been able to grow our distribution base by continuing to produce good quality product with innovative design all while delivering on time. Lira is always looking for the right partners to keep the growth moving forward.
Is LIRA sold internationally? What does your distribution look like overseas?
We recently partnered up with a great distributor in Canada and the response has exceeded expectations. We are also currently looking for future distribution partners in other countries as well. In the mean time Lira is working directly with key international retailers across the world.
What do you think sets LIRA apart from other apparel brands on the market today?
Lira is set apart from other apparel brands by keeping in touch with the consumers demands and continuing to meet those demands with its unique designs and production capabilities
What trends are you seeing overall in the streetwear/ASR market for next season? What are you working on that’s in line with and/or diverging from those trends?
The trends are changing so rapidly nowadays and it is more important than ever to keep your finger on the pulse of the market. We will be shipping Fall 13 soon here and I know you will see from us some color block camping inspired lightweight jackets to an array of domestic made knits for men along with Native inspired outerwear and oversized sweaters for women.
Where do you see the overal action sports market as far as apparel goes, and where do you think LIRA fits into the grand scheme of things?
Our goal is to keep the momentum and success we have by designing and producing quality product while making great partnerships along the way. I think it's a fun time right now in the action sports market. There is room for fresh new brands like Lira to keep the awareness of the market and the longevity of its culture.
What is a key lesson(s) you’ve learned along the way while developing the brand?
Never stop working hard! Be open minded and always stay humble and grateful for the opportunities you have been given.
Follow the jump to hear more on LA Blanks, an at-once apparel company that does all its production and product sourcing out of SoCal. Kellogg and Haddadin weigh in.
LA Blanks Co-Founders Todd Kellogg and Cliff Haddadin Share The Company’s At-Once Apparel Strategy
The concept for LA Blanks was hatched a few years ago when co-founders Todd Kellogg and Cliff Haddadin identified a need from brands for at-once goods with an emphasis on fabrication, quality, and graphics. Drawing on the duo’s long history in retail, which includes Haddadin’s former role as CEO of retail chain Beach Bums, as well as their extensive manufacturing and sourcing knowledge, LA Blanks took shape as a source for at-once orders at low minimums the action sports market and beyond, according to Kellogg.
“Since LA was world renowned for knits, we decided to take advantage of the situation and develop a women's and men's knit program that ensures quality with fast production turn times,” says Kellogg. “Depending on customers’ demands, we cater to their needs and work with them on small minimums in hopes of building on a long term relationship as they grow their business. We also do large orders for larger brands and retail stores.”
The company-- which does all its sourcing and production in the greater Los Angeles area-- prides itself on developing modern fits. “The fits of yesterday will not work today,” explains Kellogg. The company has cultivated solid relationships with the best factories in LA, which are known for providing fast turn-arounds, he adds. A staff of ten people oversee sourcing, design and graphics, sales, and quality control, allowing the company to work with brands such as LRG, Yea.Nice, and Lira, and key retailers including Active Ride Shop and Karmaloop.com. Curious to learn more, we checked in with the LA Blanks to find out how the company plans to continue its growth.
How did you partner with the current brands you are working with and why, in your opinion, do they support you and your business over others?
It comes down to quality and delivery. Every single customer we worked with came back with bigger orders and more items for us to develop.
Why do you see a place for this type of business in the market today?
Due to the economic slowdown, brands and stores are ordering closer to season, avoiding pre-bookings. Any uptick in sales requires speed to restock and that is what we do best. How does it fil an existing gap in the market? Our experience leading back to the 80's fills the gap by utilizing our relationships and knowledge.
Who do you consider as your closest competition and why?
To be frankly honest...No one. Again, we develop garments that you can showcase in boutiques and your better retailers out there. Depending on customers needs we can create exclusive garments for them that will not look like anything else.
What do you see as the biggest challenges within your particular niche of the marketplace?
Keeping up with the demand for our services
We are excited to continue to grow LA Blanks and keep manufacturing USA Made goods.