Orla Kiely on target
Not every designer has their portrait on display at the National Portrait Gallery or juggles massive product launches while fulfilling duties as the acting professor at the Royal College of Artbut, then again, not every designer is Orla Kiely.
Through the repeated use of distinct graphic patterns across multiple product lines, the Irish designer’s bold, colorful, mod sensibility has created a memorable brand imprint in the minds of consumers and design enthusiasts alike.
By creating appealing and accessible designs for consumers with both full and not-so-full pockets, Kiely’s brand has garnered significant recognition in her homeland and beyond. Kiely now lends her signature prints to everything from clothing and china to chocolates, and her retail presence spans beyond London and Paris to Hong Kong.
As stated in her bio, Kiely possesses a “fixation on the evolution of a signature style and devotion to quality and practicality,” all of which are highly effective elements in design brand building. She’s come a long way from designing hats for Harrods straight out of the Royal College of Art.
Devoted Kiely fans snap up her clothing and handbags to stand out from the crowd, and now her rapidly growing brand imprint is about to infiltrate the American masses. Target has just introduced a limited-time-only Orla Kiely for Target® collection of home décor products. Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesperson, says Kiely’s sensibility is an ideal fit for the massive chain of superstores.
“Target aims to identify designers who share our philosophy of offering great design and high quality at an exceptional value. We go through a rigorous and selective process to ensure the partnership is going to be a good one for the designer, for Target and, most importantly, for our guests,” Thomas says. “Target is always looking for opportunities to add newness to the home arena, and Orla was poised to provide this.”
“My designs are based on quality and practicality,” Kiely says. “Through my partnership with Target, I am able to share this vision with a much broader audience, providing them with great design at a great price.”
But for Kiely, who cultivated the brand with her husband, success came slowly and gradually. After Harrods, she started designing handbags and clothing. She had a banner year in 1998, where after a successful showing at Paris Fashion Week, she was able to expand her list of retailers to include massive, highbrow chains like Le Bon Marché in Paris, Isetan in Japan, Saks Fifth Avenue in the States, Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and Brown Thomas in Ireland.
Kiely set out to expand her brand presence in 2002 by forming a distribution relationship with the Japanese Itochu Corporation. Shop-in-shops bearing her name opened in London and Tokyo that year.
In 2004, Kiely’s brand came into its own in many ways, as she continued to expand her reach overseas and gain acclaim and recognition for outstanding design work. A stand-alone Orla Kiely Japan company was formed by Itochu Corporation. Kiely was nominated for Best Accessory Designer at the British Style Awards, and she won one of many Designer UK Fashion Exports Awards. She launched a new accessories collection in collaboration with the Tate Gallery and even won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year award.
An online presence and flagship stores followed, and eventually included menswear and home collections. Last year Kiely further infiltrated homes in the UK with the “Wottle,” a refillable water bottle emblazoned with Kiely’s trademark stem-and-leaf designa joint effort with Brita.
What’s next may be contingent on how the Target line does. Executives at Target are highly optimistic. “We were drawn to her inspired approach to creating unique home décor,” Thomas says. “This collection is filled with color, pattern and texture, and we feel Orla’s practical yet fanciful design aesthetic will be well received by our guests.”
And, no doubt, make their homes just a little bit brighter.