Orla Kiely RIP (Or Rant in Progress)

19 Aug

*No, she’s not dead.  She’s just dead to me.

Dear Orla,

Things have been rocky with us for a while.  This may (or may not…I’m mercurial that way) be my last Orla post.  I have been let down.  Again.  I am beginning to feel used and abused.  For me, there is nothing worse than a special lady like you who spreads herself to the masses in such a mercenary manner.  I thought you were the one.  Apparently, you want to be the one for everyone, you village bicycle, you.  When the scale tips from unique and special to mass reach in pursuit of profit, I’m out.  I’m sorry but this relationship has run its course.  It’s not me.  It’s you.

It was a great love while it lasted.  Awed by your whimsy and color and mid-century sensibility, I fell for you and fell hard.  Four years ago, I started my handbag collection.  In small boutiques tucked away in trendy little Seattle shopping areas, I would catch a glimpse of this eye-catching stem pattern on bags or wallets.  Rare enough to not be ubiquitous, but accessible enough to not be haute couture.  My obsession with you began.

Then of course, I saw you flaunting yourself at Tar-jay a few years ago and the canisters I bought have dictated the color scheme in my life.  When you designed for Target, I wasn’t as disappointed as I am now.  You were new.  You were fresh.  You were limited. You needed the exposure, I get it.  We all want to grow.  And even after the Target stint,  I didn’t see you hawking your wares everywhere, Roxanne.

I even put you on my walls.  Reminders of us as I walk through my home.  I turned our love into art.

Hello.  My name is Brandy.  I am was  an Orla-holic.  When times were easier and money less scarce than in today’s economy, I bought Orla bags with abandon.  Every fall and spring, I had to have the latest.  Last spring, I bought another at the Orla store in London.  I loved the size.  I love the olive pattern.  I hated that the leather shoulder strap split within a month.  My girlfriend bought a different bag and had the same thing happen to her. Sign number one that quality stops being the priority. (Mind you, these all sit at the top of my closet now.  I see them, growl, and threaten to sell them on eBay.  I do this with the children sometimes too.)

Then I had to live through the anticipation and let down of the Orla linens at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Such a disappointment.  You looked so cute in the photos.  Kind of like a profile.  Alas, when I met you for coffee, you were no different from the rest.  And you were so cheap, you made me pick up the tab.

Even after that, I gave you another chance.  Like a beaten wife, I just kept coming back for more.  So when I saw you had a new line of hand soaps for Method, I checked it out.  I love Method products.  Not in the way I loved you, of course.  Method products are non-toxic, environmentally friendly and they smell SO good!  But the two of you together with me all foamed up in soapy goodness, well, that could be memories in the making. 

Method Orla Kiely Gel Hand Wash - Primrose 12 oz.Opens in a new window

Method Orla Kiely Foaming Hand Wash - Vanilla Chai 10 oz.Opens in a new window

Sigh.  When I saw you there on the shelf, you were cheap and all tarted up in a flimsy plastic wrap around your bottle.  You didn’t look special.  And your scent?  Sheesh.  Vanilla chai so sickly it nauseated me.  Where has your class gone?  Has substance abandoned you?  I left you sitting there on the shelf.  I did.  I couldn’t even part with the $3.99 for you.

I will miss you, Orla.  I will always have fond memories of our time together. 

I leave you with a quote from another idol of mine who never lost her class.

“I have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in our estimation.” Mr. Collins, Pride and Prejudice.




15 Responses to “Orla Kiely RIP (Or Rant in Progress)”

  1. Ashly September 20, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    When Orla Kiely’s target line debuted back in 09, it was nearly ten years after her brand was launched. She was not a new designer by any means, and I think we all agree that those of us familiar with Orla’s designs were extraordinarily excited to have access to home goods, easily attainable in the States and even easier on our wallets. With that said, as an informed consumer, I know that Target does not produce the highest quality of items (What’s up Big Box Store?). I was able to score some Orla bins from 2009 on the clearance rack, and I feel like I got a great deal on them and they have lasted through some pretty extreme abuse over the last couple of years without showing any significant signs of wear.

    I have, like you, also continued to purchase Orla Kiely handbags, wallets, etc. throughout the years. I have had no issue with them falling apart, and like the Target bins, they show signs of normal wear only. I imagine that if you took your complaints about the damaged purse to the seller or Orla Kiely customer service, they may have replaced or repaired the bag. Luxury brands will do things like that for dissatisfied customers. If enough people bring this to their attention, a possibly unknown design flaw would be caught and remedied. When I shell out a significant sum on an accessory and it fails shortly after purchase, I don’t feel sorry for myself – I expect to get what I pay for and ask for it. My first iPhone pooped out on me shortly after I purchased it. I didn’t put it on the top shelf to let it taunt me, I took it to customer service and let them make things right.

    When announcements were made that Bed Bath and Beyond were going to sell Orla Kiely printed sheets, I shrugged . I don’t buy my linens from BB&B because quality is important to me (big box store), regardless of who designed the print – and therein lies the biggest issue I think you may have with some of the news good on the market.

    There is some expectation that because Orla Kiely has a luxury line, that all items with Orla Kiely’s name it will hold up to this standard and that’s not the case (example: Very Wang, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs,etc). Many successful designers have a luxury line, a middle of the road line, and then the destined for Kohl’s clearance bin line. This helps bring these designers within reach to people who cannot afford $500+ purses or dresses. You know, normal people. The quality of each line is different because it costs a certain amount to produce higher-end items. That’s to be expected. I know that buying a bed-in-a-bag at BB&B isn’t going to compare to buying a duvet set from Heal’s or Pottery Barn, or anywhere other than a big box store. This seems like common sense to me.

    We also forget that Orla started out and continues to be a textile designer, so it stands to reason that her designs would be featured on other commodities that may not meet the Orla luxury line standard. That’s what textile designers do – they design patterns for use on other items and sell those designs to those interested.

    When it comes to Method soap, we would be fools if we actually believed that a textile/graphic designer was somehow choosing soap scents. I mean, come on. The packaging design patterns, which iare Orla’s forte, is up to par and features designs we are all familiar with, so why the complaint? Method’s basic line makes sweet, nauseating smelling soap (Sweet Water rings a bell), no matter what packaging it comes in. The bonus: I paid $2.99 for a great/attractive soap bottle that works well in my mid-century home and now I can now refill with something that doesn’t induce a migraine. Hurray!

    I’m not riding Orla’s proverbial dick here – I’m just pointing out what seems so obvious to me. We’re talking about a graphic/textile designer, not the House of Chanel.

    • October 2, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      Hi Ashly,
      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. While I see your point about Vera Wang and Michale Kors et al., I would say that my experience in marketing fashion brands via licensees is that who you get in bed with says lot about your brand. The medium is the message and if her message is to align with Method, so be it. It disappoints me, but I have seen that others love it and that is where she will make her fortune.

      And Orla, while originally a textile designer, has created what is most definitely a brand. No one assumes that she chooses the soap scents, but someone in her organization approves everything that her licensees create on her behalf, including the plastic-y packaging. I have been that person myself and my organization always worked with the philosophy that while you choose a licensee because they produce something that is not the company’s core competency, the licensor buys the rights to your brand because they need that kind of recognition and/or association. What kind of brand is what she (for lack of a better word for the Orla Kiely company) communicates through the partners she chooses and what she allows then to do. She is not the House of Chanel, no. But she isn’t (or perhaps I wish shouldn’t be) Martha Stewart at Kmart either.

      I do understand where you are coming from and respect your perspective on getting what you pay for. I suppose I am of the mind-set that I want to get what I pay for the first time around and not have to chase it down or stomp my foot. I barely have enough time in a day to go to the bathroom much less get on the phone with a company, explain my problem and go to a post office to ship something back. I simply choose to move to a brand that doesn’t require that of me. Lazy? Maybe. Time-crunched? For sure.

      Thanks again for a provocative comment. I love it when readers engage in debate and exchange of ideas. Please keep reading and commenting!

  2. Jenny August 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    I love this post! I’m a huge Orla fan and am a little gutted we’re not getting the Orla/Method range in the UK. I’m not sure I want it after reading your post though 🙂

    • August 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      Hi Jenny,
      I totally understand your disappointment. But you have Heal’s! I would give anything to have that store in the US.

  3. Alex @ northofseven August 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    What a great write up! I remember when I first saw that bedding print on a pillow I scoured the web to try and find out who it was. And when I read this I laughed, b/c I *totally* understand. Once it becomes a McProduct, you start to lose the individual appeal of it in your home. Even if you still adore the prints.

  4. Ryan August 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    My girlfriend and I bought the Queen bedspread set and matching brown pillow (pictured in this blog post). We loved the print, however I’ve noticed the bedspread looks a little worn after three months.

  5. janis - pinecone camp August 19, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Well, take that Orla! I feel the way you do, though I couldn’t frame into such a fun collection of words. Perfectly said. O.K. just doesn’t have that special place in my heart anymore either. I’ll miss her.

  6. midcenturyobsession August 19, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Hilarious. Well written. Brutal and elloquent….and so very refreshingly honest! Love it. Thanks for the laugh!

  7. Stacey August 19, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Sorry for your loss, Brandy! Well…. sorry for THEIR loss, I guess. It’s such a shame when something cool, hip, and special gets too big for it’s britches and cheapens up on us. I was in Bed B and Beyond yesterday and saw the Orla set. YIKES! You were so right… pretty crappy. The cheap bottle of scented soap was the last straw!
    Well, this was a nice farewell…. I’m sure that something else fabulous will steal your heart soon. It was good while it lasted, no doubt. (love how you put this together… made me giggle!)

  8. Tanya August 19, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Hilarious and so true! Love your article!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: