Washington is no stranger to tech startups that make it big (hello, LivingSocial!), but what about fashion startups? Enterprising GW student Erin Yogasundram launched quirky online accessories emporium Shop Jeen in December 2011 while still in school, and in May, we told you about the eBay-gone-upscale site Snobswap, a District-based venture that lets you buy, sell, and trade gently used designer goods. Now we’ve got a third to add to the list: Ikkon, a Mr. Porter-like online men’s clothing boutique stocked with classically stylish options.
The crisply designed, easy-to-navigate site has enough selvedge denim, monkstrap shoes, and cashmere cardigans to fill out any business-casual/weekend wardrobe. There’s also an indulgent selection of Rick Owens color-blocked vests and Italia Independent suede bracelets. What’s most impressive, though, is the eye behind the edit. Ikkon is the brainchild of three born-and-raised Washingtonian sisters. That’s right, it’s a trio of ladies— Marisa (26) and Kara Pazik (31) and Kristen Pazik-Shevchenko (35)—picking out your next must-have Rogan hoodie and Hartford Camel coat. And in case you missed the picture above, it’s a very glamorous set of ladies at that—both Marisa and Kristen spent time modeling, and Kristen is married to Ukranian soccer star Andriy Shevchenko (he’s played for AC Milan and Chelsea and done some campaign work for Giorgio Armani). They worked their fashion and football connections to stock Ikkon with an impressive roster of designer goods that are are simultaneously luxe and wearable. With the sad news of Gilt Groupe-owned Park & Bond shuttering, we’re rooting for this local company to fill the void left in men’s online shopping. Read on for an interview with Marisa, who gives us the scoop on Ikkon’s backstory, as well as wardrobe essentials and under-the-radar brands that work especially well for the Washington man.
What’s the backstory on Ikkon?
The three of us have always loved fashion. When we first discussed working together, Kara was working in retail, I was interning at a social media company, and Kristen was in the 17th year of her modeling career. When we began working on Ikkon, neither Mr. Porter nor Park & Bond had been launched yet. The online men’s retail market was a completely untapped resource, and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to create our own space within the fashion world. After being in research and development for almost two years, Ikkon formally launched on March 29, 2012.
How did you come up with the name for your site?
We believe that every man aspires to be an icon. The word personifies strength, class, longevity, and memorability—all things we strive for our site to represent. To personalize the site, we changed the spelling and created our logo with two inverted K’s and an M at the bottom to represent Kristen, Kara, and Marisa.
What makes Ikkon different from other men’s e-shops like Mr. Porter?
Ikkon is about simple luxury for the modern man. The assortment strategy for our company is simple: a well-curated and tightly edited selection from a variety of designers. Since it’s a boutique site, our customer will never be overwhelmed with too many options. We also focus on sourcing new and up-and-coming brands that our competitors do not offer. Lastly, incorporating a charitable component to Ikkon was a key building block for us and serves as part of our company’s mission statement. Whether it’s through bringing on charitably minded vendors (This Shirt Helps donates proceeds to appointed charities) or participating in international charity events (the AMFAR Gala in New York City, London’s Tristan Capital Golf Tournament), giving back is an integral part of what we do.
Tell us about your connection to the Washington area.
All three of us were raised in Bethesda. On our mom’s side, we have a large extended family that lives around the area, and our parents still live in the house we grew up in. All of us attended Pyle Middle School. For high school, Kristen and Kara attended Georgetown Visitation, and I attended the Academy of the Holy Cross. Kara and I currently reside in the District. Though Kristen and her family now live in London, at one time or another we have each called this area home, so we decided to make Ikkon’s headquarters here, as well.
What role do each of you play in the company?
As a family and startup company, we all wear many hats and work collectively on many aspects, but each of us has a specific area of focus. I oversee Ikkon’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest). Kara handles the day-to-day operations of the website and manages vendor and customer relations. Kristen focuses on the creative and visual aspects of the site and heads up the development team for future expansions of the website.
Why open an e-commerce store versus a brick-and-mortar?
When you take a look at the statistics and projections in online retail, there is consistent growth every year. According to Forrester Research, online shoppers will spend $327 billion in 2016, up from $226 billion this year. Over the next five years, that represents a compound annual growth rate of 10.1 percent. Both fashion and technology thrive off of constant change, evolution, and the next big thing, so it seemed like a no-brainer to combine the two.
As three women, what makes you qualified to run a men’s fashion site?
Whether it’s a wife buying clothes for her husband or a girlfriend’s nod of approval for an outfit, usually there is a woman somewhere behind each man’s style. Although we don’t want to say men dress solely for women, we do believe they want our approval and recognition. Therefore, we have provided a site where men can see what we, as three women, would like to see them wearing from season to season.
Who are each of your personal male style icons?
Kara believes Paul Newman’s minimalist, somewhat preppy style defines masculinity in a classic but comfortable way. My choice is Ryan Gosling. A more present-day style icon, he nails the tailored look and understands the importance of details. James Dean, the original rebel, is Kristen’s ultimate male style icon. Dean perfects the classic T-shirt-and-worn-in-jeans look with an edginess and confidence that is still stylish today.
What are your best-selling items?
Our first season was spring/summer, and the versatile shoe company Swims was one of our top-sellers. Since men live in their jeans, PRPS selvedge denim has done consistently well. Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens, two luxury designers who garner very loyal and dedicated customers, have also done well for us.
Name a brand you carry that Washington men would do well to get familiar with.
One designer we think Washington men should really get to know is Ovadia & Sons. Founded in 2010 by two brothers, it offers a fresh approach to traditional pieces. There’s a tailored and sophisticated feel to almost everything they do, and it works for any man’s wardrobe as it can be worn for work or after hours. The brand’s aesthetic is young yet classic, new yet traditional—just like the city of DC itself.
Describe the perfect Ikkon fall outfit.
A half-lined blazer from J. Linderberg, with a shawl cable-knit sweater from Ovadia & Sons, followed by a long-sleeve cotton henley from Hartford, Rambler jeans from PRPS, finished up with a pair of dark gray sneakers from Jim Rickey. This outfit allows for lightweight layering, which is both versatile and effortlessly classic.