Loriann Smoak is the founder of Condor, a lifestyle boutique located in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. Though a California native, Smoak is a well-seasoned traveler who has ventured to more than 20 countries and lived in fashion hubs including Paris and Milan. In 2011, she planted her roots in New York to open Condor, offering a curated collection of apparel, accessories and home items and featuring brands including Tome, Timo Weiland, Rodebjer, Suno and Veda.
Hailing from California and having lived all over the world, why did you land in NYC permanently?
New York has been a home since I was a teenager and I continue to travel back and forth between California and New York. It always made sense to me to be here because I believed this is where things “happened”. I wasn’t interested in smaller markets.
What were you doing in Europe?
I moved there at 16 to live in Italy, really just to immerse myself in the culture and learn the language. But of course, even back then, fashion was a big part of who I was and what I wanted to do, so I wanted the Italian influence. At the time, fashion was still “Made in Italy”, and it was also at a time before the euro and pre-9/11 which made for a strong dollar. I was really fortunate to live in a beautiful area. I still remain connected to the Italian friends I made while living there.
Why did you open Condor?
Condor has been a vehicle for me to bring together a collection of merchandise that reflects different aspects of who I am. So it gives me creative fulfillment to express different facets while also creating a place for people to discover designers and products that are on the leading edge.
Condor has a very bohemian vibe about it. Is this homage to your CA roots?
It is interesting that you say bohemian because I haven’t thought about it that way, but I think the bohemian nature you might notice is a reflection of my own sensibility, which comes through from my California roots meeting my city life.
You have a good eye for emerging designers (you’re one of the few stores who carries Tome). What has allowed you to take risks with young brands?
You know, I really trust my instincts. I do my best to see a lot in the market, and in the end it always boils down to wearable, beautiful pieces that I hope become mainstays in peoples wardrobes. Many of the emerging designers we carry are made in New York, supporting the NY garment industry, and generally allows for a quality that is beyond what most contemporary and upper contemporary brands are producing in my opinion.
How do you feel Nolita has changed since you opened? For the better? For the worse?
I was very clear about where I wanted the store to be, but I am not as crazy about the neighborhood anymore. With so many big brands moving in, I think the spirit of the neighborhood is a little lost.
What do you enjoy most about working in retail?
That it is always changing, that we experience the seasons in store, and that there is the engagement with the consumer with the opportunity to build relationships. That really is one of the most gratifying parts of the job, I’ve begun doing personal styling in-store and at home consultations.
How much time are you in the shop?
It really varies these days. We have our office in Brooklyn and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the next chapter of the business. You can usually find me in the shop off and on throughout the week.
Who is the average customer?
I have made a point to have an offering that can appeal to wide range of women. We have a steady following of local New Yorkers and also a growing international clientele, especially customers from Asia and the Middle East.
What are your favorite brands to wear? Who are you most excited to wear for SS14?
Rodebjer and Tome! Those two are my personal favorites. They are both really wearable, season-less, well tailored, and can go day to night, which are all qualities I look for when buying into a line.
Images courtesy Condor
Slide 1 – Look 1: Rodebjer woven robe, Tome karate pants; Look 2: Rodebjer sequin top and wide leg pants; Look 3 Rodebjer caftan and wide leg pants
Slide 2 – Look 1: Kaelen blazer with matching split ankle pencil pantsLook 2: H. Fredriksson palm print drape dress; Look 3: Rodebjer viscose buttoned dress