Athens + Designer Visits

Athens + Designer Visits

I just got back from two soul-satisfying weeks in Greece (most of my time was spent in Athens, with a few days in sun-drenched Santorini) and the time away has definitely given me a fresh perspective, a recharged battery and a new resolve to make this the best fall and winter season yet for LILA. I know, the holidays are months away, but if you are in retail you know that preparations start WAY in advance. To put it in perspective, collections were ordered back in February & March (ask me if I can even remember what we ordered...), and yet there is still SO MUCH to do behind-the-scenes that extends beyond just stocking the store!


That said, every time I feel like I'm getting stuck in the weeds of day-to-day store responsibilities and life in general, time away reminds me why I started on this path in the first place. Meeting with the teams of the brand's we carry in-store still gives me that bubbly feeling of excitement. It makes me feel inspired and committed all over again - and I leave the showrooms with stars in my eyes and so much joy in my heart that despite the challenges, I know that I can always make it work. 


This trip to Greece was part work, part pleasure. If you ask me - this can be the best type of trip! I had appointments with a few designers and went jewelry shopping for the store. I also spent time visiting favorite spots I used to frequent when I was a high schooler living back in Athens. Check out the post '72 hours in Athens' for places to check out in and around the ancient city if you are planning a trip there! 



On my first day back, I headed to the the Madame Shou Shou HQ, a charming little apartment-turned-showroom, tucked away in a quiet suburb outside of Athens, you'd never know it existed. Each room has a fairytale like quality, with each object thoughtfully placed, vintage furniture vibes and an abundance of soft florals and lace. This is where the magic that breeds each new collection happens. This is where a wildly creative team interprets and executes the beautiful vision of designer Elina Kordali. I stopped by in the late morning, and finally previewed close up the stunning collection that you all can expect to see this fall/winter season in-store. The most beautiful fabrics - velvet, sequins, lace, tulle - and of course their signature floral and polka dot prints, come to life in what I truly believe to be their best collection to-date. Check back for their arrival in store - the collection is currently en route to us from Athens! Our lovely rep, Margarita, who I met in person for the first time after corresponding for over a year via email also gave me a peek at the spring/summer collection for next year. I can't reveal much, but I can say this - it does not disappoint.  



My next stop of the day was downtown to visit Karavan Clothing in their brand new showroom. I got on the suburban railway and made my way down to the bustling heart of the city. The sights, sounds and smells of the buzzing throughways and crowded side streets will always bring me home. I stopped for frappé (popular cold Greek coffee enjoyed year-round) and tiropita (Greek for cheese pie) at the famed Ariston Bakery (open since 1910!) en route to the new location. This has become a ritual of mine every time I return to the city. Ariston still uses their original recipe that dates from the early part of the century to make their cheese pies and they are the best that I've ever had, second only to my Giagia's (Greek for grandmother). 




The new Karavan showroom is so beautifully designed, I would love nothing more than to move in, sip my morning coffee from their charming balcony, and make their stock room my own private closet. Too much to ask?


Our rep, Tatiana, who I also met for the first time though we've been emailing back and forth for ages, felt like a soul sister.  The type of person you feel like you've known for years, even though you've only just been acquainted. Have you ever experienced that feeling? For me it's a rarity.  We finally caught up in person, snapped selfies in our matching Karavan outfits, and I got a mini tour of the new space. 



The new collection is still in the works - so I did not get to preview it. However, I did peep some fabrics and prints that will make their way into the the most deliciously chunky knits as part of the fall/winter collection. This small teaser was more than sufficient to get me excited all over again about what's to come. If the past few seasons were any indication, this season will be as bold, vibrant and chic as ever... and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. 



 The next day, I headed to the new showroom and work studio of Vice Versa to visit with the designer. The new location was expansive, with plenty of natural light, and display space to showcase all the styles you've come to love (from our best selling barrel bag, to the playful circle and bucket styles in every color of the rainbow) as well as some new styles that I couldn't help but covet for the store. Signature clutches, like the Wave, Grommet and Infinity, were now redesigned into mini versions, and I wanted one of each for myself. Keep an eye out as we introduce these in the shop!   



A new take on the envelope (you've seen this style in our belt bags), came in different shapes and sizes, but as a clutch. I loved the idea of being able to use this chic leather design as a ipad case as well. Can you spot them on the bottom shelf in the below photo? 



I was also drawn to the studded PVC carryalls for summer (below!), featuring a chic stripe or chain detail. While these are quite a departure from the traditional leather accessories that are a signature for the designer, I loved their airy, lightweight quality that is so intrinsic in spring and summer fashion and thought they would also be perfect as beach bags! 



I always feel so energized after brand meetings. To be surrounded by so much energy and creativity gives me such a natural high. Whether you are maker, a brand rep, a retailer - we are all in it because we could not imagine for our lives anything different. It may sound idealistic, but that's how I see it.