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"Meticulous" and "punk" are two words that come to mind when describing luxury footwear brand The Office of Angela Scott, and the line's helmswoman embodies both qualities with unprecedented ease. The arrival of Angela's flagship store on Melrose heralds a new wave of style in LA, with the collection currently comprised of fun and funky loafers and brogues in muted, Cali-appropriate colors.
The luxury punk mentality behind the brand comes directly from Angela's childhood in Northern California, where her experiences as the only girl in a pack of three brothers instilled serious tomboy vibes in her aesthetic, already cultivated and refined by a distinctly Old World Italian heritage. "Listen, I didn't mind the dresses and bows my mom would put me in, but I wanted to rock out bow ties and skate shoes too," says the stylish designer, whose laid-back attitude belies her intense business acumen and attention to detail.
Angela's surfer edge and quiet life in Santa Barbara with her husband are totally rooted in San Jose culture, although she constantly travels the world and aims to have her line sold in New York and Tokyo, among other domestic destinations. With distribution at Neiman Marcus and a booming e-commerce site in Angela's telltale high-end, minimalist style, The Office of Angela Scott is poised and ready to become a major player in the luxury footwear market.
We got to know Angela a little better over freshly pressed juice at vegan hotspot (not an oxymoron) Gracias Madre, where she revealed a lot about her wild child days, her disdain for fast fashion, and what's up next for her expanding brand.
What are you drinking?
It's kale, apple, and celery.
Perks of being the youngest child?
I got away with more and I got punished more. My three brothers all got to have late curfews, they all got to go on surf camp trips, they got to do everything, and me? It was like, no, you're a girl, so you have to be home at night. So I would sneak out, and maybe I drank a little too much, maybe I got in to trouble. But I only got my stomach pumped once!
You launched your brand in Dallas. What really characterizes that town?
Men are gentleman. I'm at the airport, lugging all my stuff, and some guy comes over, like full cowboy with the hat and the tight jeans and everything and I'm just like, this is rad! I'm smiling at him and I think he took that as an invitation and he came over and said, "There's no reason why a woman should be carrying luggage," and he took all my luggage and all his all the way to my gate. There's gentlemen there.
Best part of Cali living?
When you grow up with that air, that breeze, you can't live without it. I need my ocean, I want to go for a walk or a bike ride. We had a store in Dallas but I closed it and I really wanted to focus on getting back to my roots in California.
What was a major turning point for your business?
Karen Katz [CEO of Neiman Marcus] came to my store in Dallas. It was by happenstance, and the next day I got like 20 emails from every single buyer. It was her email copying them and then immediately they responded, which was super rad. That was in 2012. That was my second season, and you couldn't ask for a better opportunity.
What comes next for your brand?
I'm only here in LA, but I plan on opening up a store in New York. I think it makes sense. I'd love to do here, New York, and then Tokyo and somewhere else back in the US, I just don't know where yet. Maybe somewhere else in California. It's just a weird time right now, because brick and mortar is super important for visibility, but it's like a whole different demand. The department store mentality is going away. It's a whole new vibe for direct to consumer, which is rad for me. So I'm kind of road-trippping it.
Advice for being successful and growing?
Get to know your customer. I can't be an asshole just sitting here going, "Well, I'm a designer." Do you think that back in the day when Chanel started, do you think she was going, "Oh nobody can come in today"? No way. You have to get out there and do it. We're starting to get into an arena of fast food for luxury, because go to any metropolitan city and it's the same goddamn luxury stores.
So true. The chains and fast fashion rule the world these days. What do we do about that?
Can I just ask why, as a big chain, as a luxury brand, why is it the same in every city? Every city has uniqueness. Why don't the California stores have a little bit more surf? When you're in San Francisco, why doesn't it have a little bit more city? When you're in New York, why doesn't it have a little bit more edge? If you're going to buy within your neighborhood, make it something that's cool. You'd want to go to the Hong Kong store because you'd think, "Dude, that store is the only one that sells this one item and when they're out, they're out."
What's your goal within this new brand climate?
When I open up other stores, there's definitely going to be the product that's honed in and very specific to that market. With this LA store, you're definitely going to see more influence from the surf and skate culture that I grew up in. The New York store will be more city.
What's your personal style based on?
I like to dress and I like casual. You can't not like casual when you grew up in California.