Step into a wonderland of wanderlust. Koibird is not an exotic creature as the name might suggest – it’s a conceptual boutique located hidden in the heart of Marylebone in London founded by fashion entrepreneur, Belma Gaudio.
No stranger to globe-trotting from her previous life in the finance world, Belma set out to create a one-stop holiday destination with the international jetsetter in mind. The ephemeral space is designed to switch up its interiors and product curation according to the mood and season, and to inject a whole lot of joy into the sometimes stressful process of holiday shopping.
Focusing on new designers from around the world, it’s a place where you’ll discover one-of-a-kind pieces – from hand painted kimono coats by Latin American brand Maison Alma, to pop art style ski jackets by Rossignol and woven bags by Turkish designer Mehry Mu.
In search of an antidote to our winter blues, we ventured into Belma’s technicolour space to find out more.
Hi Belma, what’s the philosophy behind Koibird?
KOIBIRD strives to offer an extraordinary fashion edit that injects flamboyance and excitement into travel packing. From the beach to the mountains and everything in between, the brand is a one stop shop that gets the consumer ready for their travels. Even when we are in a certain theme we always offer a resort selection on line, as well as the current theme of the store. We reference the Napoleon Dynamite skit in our About page, that the KOIBIRD is a mixed breed animal, bred for its skills in magic. It all starts from there. Koibird travels the world to find amazing brands to bring back to London and adds some magic to holiday shopping. We really want to be known for having a unique and curated travel edit.
The store has a fabulously distinctive interior. How did you bring your vision to life?
We start with a destination theme, then I generally put a mood board together of images that I perceive represent that theme best. It can be one image or multiple images that launches the store concept. I work very closely with the super creative and talented set designer Anna Burns, who interprets the imagery as well and then we launch into our meetings and conversations and she translates it all into a store design. Anna and I work very well together and it is all pretty seamless when that synergy is achieved. The gestation period is not very long here!
Why do you think we are now putting so much more thought into our holiday wardrobes – is it simply down to Instagram?
I think the curation of our holiday Instagram’s has a lot to do with it, but I also genuinely think people are at their happiest and want to look their best when planning for and going on holiday. I think holidays are when women care the most about what they wear and how they look! It’s when they want to have the most beautiful clothes. Each trip is like a debutante ball! People are also quite social now on holidays. Women work out, diet, be the best they can so it is only natural their holiday clothes should enhance that effort and make them feel amazing.
How do you go about sourcing brands to stock in the store? Is it important to have a balance between established and emerging designers?
We pay a lot of attention to who the new brands are and to international markets. It is a pretty small fashion world now with Instagram so it’s harder and harder to really have unique and exclusive brands. We work with brands on special designs and exclusivity, we travel to find them, and some we do discover on Instagram of course. It such a powerful tool for discovery. We don’t really operate in trying to achieve a balance, we buy and stock brands that we love regardless of whether they are established or emerging. But yes, it’s nice to have that mix. It’s also very exciting when we find a number of emerging talent and introduce them to the UK market. That to me is probably the most exciting. We also love to work with brands that support local artisans, sustainability and are doing things in a new forward-thinking way.
Who are some of your favourite recent discoveries?
For our Ski edit we have an exclusive with an emerging brand Cancellato from Milan, which does luxe knitwear using computerized knitting machines, and the look is sophisticated, elegant but with oversized proportions. They also are very conscious of not wasting yarn or fabric and make a point of this in their production. Also love FAK BY FAK a Russian eyewear brand that are flamboyant, and they intrigue and challenge the norms of eyewear and excite the imagination which resonates with us at KOIBIRD. And then for resort we ae so excited by Ines Bressand’s straw basket bags which are so contemporary yet produced by artisans in Ghana. She is working with people using traditional methods of weaving married with very fresh and contemporary design.
What’s the most amazing place you’ve ever visited?
It’s really hard to say as so many places are very special and it’s all very dependent on circumstance, time you visit, where you are in your life and how you experience it at that time. For example, I visited Cambodia before it was as urbanized as it is today, and it truly was out of this world. And at that time, I have not seen as much of Asia as I have by now. I went back recently and while it was nice it had changed a lot. Having said that hanging out on Mt Etna with lava flowing down 2 km away from you is pretty amazing.
Where do you think will be the next fashion capital in the world?
Well I would say Copenhagen, Seoul or Los Angeles. All very different but all very significant in terms of what is happening with their fashion scene.
Do you have plans to open in other cities?
We would like to do pop ups potentially partnering with hotels in destination places, but no plans for a full-time store anywhere else at the moment. We do have an e-commerce platform so that takes care of reaching international markets at the moment.
Take a closer look at Koibird here