Ela Rae: The Art of Layering
Everyone in the fashion industry mourns the loss of fashion retailer Henri Bendel, but to Pamela Mufson, the specialty store chain’s closing is particularly bittersweet. The designer got her big break there, gaining the confidence (and funds) to grow the Ela Rae jewelry line into the brand it is today.
A combination of her first name Pamela and middle name Rachel, Mufson launched Ela Rae when she was just a sophomore in college at LIM. “I went to Henri Bendel’s Open See in October of 2011, waiting in line like it was American Idol. They loved my pieces, and I had my friends make over 1,000 stretch bracelets for the first pop up, which was in February.”
The pop ups continued and the line rapidly grew. Lifelong friend Tamar Hagopian joined the company as Pamela’s business partner and the Director of Sales and Marketing. Mufson also hired a full-time jeweler to meet growing demand. Ela Rae continues to be designed and hand-made in New York City.
About a year and a half ago, the brand expanded into three distinct collections, giving retailers and consumers more options and price points.
Ela Rae is plated sterling and semiprecious stones, opening at $88 and going up to $498; Ela by Ela Rae features more metal, charms and some silk cording. “It’s a lux look, using sterling and white zircon instead of diamonds.” The collections opens at $48 for simple bracelet and pair of earrings, ranging up to $798 for a bigger statement piece with lots of pave and white topaz. Diamond Lux also launched about a year and a half ago, featuring diamond charms. It opens at $198, and goes upwards of a few thousand dollars. The sweet spot is $500 to $1,500.
Ela Rae is all about layering and the brand goes to lengths (no pun intended) to help consumers do it on their own. Click the Art of Layering tab on the website and you can send a request to chat for some style help. The site also shows numerous examples of layering combinations, from necklaces to stacked bracelets and rings. Ela Rae has also launched pre-layered 3-in-1 necklaces, featuring multiple tiers on a single clasp that fall in the perfect, tangle-free way. The pre-layered pieces also work for retailers as a “silent salesperson” that gets the look across. “Some women know how to layer, while others want the look but just can’t do it themselves,” says Mufson.
Delicate has been the word in layering for a number of seasons now, and while chunky is making a comeback, Ela Rae is doing it on its own terms. “We’re doing chunky in a layered way, with piled on delicate layers that make a complete statement,” says Mufson.
For Spring, expect lots of “heirloom style jewelry,” focusing on disks, signet rings, charms and lockets. Yellow gold, which used to be about 50% of offerings, is growing as a percent to total, says Mufson. Also expect to see lots of rainbow hues, plus pearls done in non-traditional ways such as chokers or lariats. Overall, the line is created for the female with a carefree sense of self, who isn’t afraid to create a personalized, layered mix with her Ela Rae jewelry. Even if she needs a little help…