Inclusive brand spotlight: Alexis Bittar has been celebrating older women for more than a decade

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Large textured hoop earring, $175

Back in 2011, I interviewed Alexis Bittar at his newly-opened shop in San Francisco:

Me: “You’ve used Joan Collins and Lauren Hutton in recent campaigns. Why did you decide upon these more mature ladies?”

Bittar: “Joan Collins was the first celebrity we used after about five years of using models. We used Snejana Onopka in what I think was her second-ever shoot and I used another girl—Daiane Conterato—in what’s still one of my favorite ads. She’s got a really unique face and she’s not the typical pretty girl. Enough with the perfect! I generally like androgynous models like Stella Tennant. And Joan was interesting because the public awareness of the campaign was so fast and dramatic. Bloggers in China were all over it immediately. It had an amazing impact.”

Golden Pebble Cake large clip-on earrings, $495

Me: “Do you think you will continue using older models?”

Bittar: “It’s tricky. I’m smart enough to know not to typecast myself. But actually, for the next campaign we had four people on the list; three were younger and one was a little bit more mature. And I think we’re going to go with the more mature one!”

Golden Pebble Cake pendant necklace, $225

Since that interview Bittar sold his eponymous jewelry company to Brooks Brothers in 2015, which went bankrupt in 2021. At that point he decided to buy back his brand, and he seems to have changed his tune about being typecast.

Golden Pebble Cake drop earring—aquamarine, $345

He’s currently setting an amazing example, with the majority of the models currently on his website and Instagram in the mature category. And I am HERE. FOR. IT!

“If you’re able to get to the point to be comfortable with yourself, it’s such a huge gift,” Bittar says in a video on his website. “And it does comes often with aging. For women specifically, there’s so much messaging to break women’s confidence, and it’s coming from the fashion industry, I mean the fashion industry’s like criminal number one in breaking your confidence so you buy their product. It’s so fucked up. It’s really crazy.

“Being comfortable with who you are is the goal. And then fashion and individuality is kind of the icing on the top because you’re free, and you’re like, ‘Fuck it. I want to wear this, I’m gonna wear this.'” 

That San Francisco store where I met the designer closed in 2021, after which, coincidentally, one of my closest friends, Marie McCarthy, opened her own jewelry store Fiat Lux Fillmore.

Alexis Bittar gold metal link necklace

Metal link necklace, $395

Happily for all you Bay Area peeps, Bittar is coming back to Fillmore Street with a new shop next week just a block down! I asked him back in 2011 what he loves about San Francisco:

“I come to San Francisco two to three times per year,” he said (pre-Covid bliss!). “I’m old school! So, I love the Golden Gate Bridge. I love Gump’s. It has a similar aesthetic to Takashimaya, which I Iove. I just bought a bunch of stuff at Loro Piana. I’m like an old Italian man.”

Alexis Bittar gray hair model

Block ring—black, $100

Me: “How did you choose this city as the location for one of your first stores?”
“I’ve been coming out here since I was 26 and I’ve always loved it. Plus, I had a feeling of who the S.F. customer was, and it definitely was one of the highest-ranked cities for us. In terms of aesthetic, it’s the closest city that reminds me of New York in some ways. San Francisco is much more laid-back, but in terms of an artistic sensibility, I feel like it has much more of an individual take. And the roots of it are really, really interesting—from the old Chinatown, to just all of it. It was a good fit because I feel kind of quirky and indie and I feel like San Francisco has that, too. Also, I have a good friend out here so I can come see her!”

Stay tuned for more Alexis Bittar coverage here at Mean in either podcast form, or an an old fashioned Q&A. You’ll be the first to know!

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