I hate to admit, but I didn’t really know of illia until after I had the pleasure of touring the store in Venice, meeting the retail manager- Fritzie and talking with the designer- John Murrough (and meeting his dog- Gracie). The store was small, which enabled a more personable atmosphere. All the clothes and accessories exuded the highest quality in fabrics, mainly leathers and some knits and wovens. John was eager to share some background (and current) information with me. illia has been around since the 90’s and the garments at the time were made out of suede. However, John decided to take a sabbatical from the industry and went back to South Africa. It wasn’t until Spring of 2009 when illia relaunched again, with an exclusive event at Barney’s New York. This time around, the garments were mainly created out of leather. Since rejoining the fashion workforce, along with business partner-Robbie Moray, he has realized that the business had changed dramatically with the recession. Specialty stores are getting fewer and far between. The point was brought up that because of the economy, people are paying more attention to the quality of clothing. Consumers want something that’s unique and not seen on a lot of people (which is why illia stands out from other brands.) He was telling me that during one of the trade shows, he saw a very chic woman that he knew was wearing of his jackets. He found out that she has had it for twelve years. He is very passionate in his brand, being well-aware of the ‘illia consumer,’ who are usually the very health-conscious Venice women. He always wants to know what has or hasn’t sold and why, along with the fit of the garments. He focuses on a fitted, tailored silhouette with smaller armholes. Although illia is a womenswear brand, men even love trying on the shirt jackets because of the tailoring. He is constantly thinking about what the customer wants next and is usually spot on with his judgement. He credits LA as his inspiration, because the brand is all about the California lifestyle…casual yet chic. He also has a couple muses that have impeccable style and looks to them for inspiration. Although every piece at the Venice store is exquisite, there are a couple best-sellers: the motorcycle jackets and vests; because they’re made so well that they last a long time, which is what people want (I mean, wouldn’t YOU?) In the near future, illia plans on opening a few more stores (as Venice is the one and only) and creating a menswear line. The line would ultimately consist of five or six easy shirts and blazers. illia is located in the trendy Abbot Kinney neighborhood in Venice at 1638 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. The phone number is (310)450-2890.