If you like your leather, you'll love Jitrois, an under the radar cult-fashion brand, known for bringing revolutionary designs to the runway. The only thing that could possibly be better than the brand itself is Lewaa A. Khalek, the president and the personality behind the fierce, fashion-forward label which has many famous fans including Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Beyonce and more.
Lewaa is currently the owner of Jitrois boutiques across the USA, a portfolio which includes stores in posh places such as Aspen, the Bal Harbour Mall in Miami, and of course, their flagship store on Madison Avenue, so you can update your leather look anytime! Lewaa, who took the reins of the company in the United States market in 2013 has given new life to the luxurious Parisian label. He also sells the collection to other high end shops and department stores in multiple cities throughout the country. Jitrois, which introduced its original designs to the world in the 70s, is now a well-known brand in the states thanks to their leather and more importantly, Lewaa!
This suave businessman, who started his fashion career working for Gucci in Kuwait in the late 90s, credits his mom as being "an inspiration for me growing up. She had a love for fashion. When I started working with Jitrois a few years ago, it was an untapped luxury brand unknown to the American market. It was an exciting opportunity to build the business and create a following. Of course, the quality, taste level and artistry of the pieces are top notch. For all of those reasons, there couldn't have been better match for me. I have been able to develop a huge loyal following including top celebrities as well as extremely prestigious clients."
Don't like the length or color? No problem! At Jitrois, you can customize any piece to fit your personal style, so you are sure to find your dream dress for any occasion. While fashion might be big business, this leader in leather is all about adding personal touches to not just the designs, but also when it comes to his relationships with his clients. Whether it's hosting dinners or taking the time to catch up in the store's downstairs lounge – yes, each store has a lounge where you can relax with a glass of champagne or Jitrois labeled wine – Lewaa brings back old-school service which his clients have come to appreciate in this fast-paced, social media driven world.
From the moment you walk into a Jitrois shop, you will be instantly transported to a world where you can redefine and transform yourself. The brand was founded by Jean-Claude Jitrois who based his designs on the philosophy that wearing leather, which he defined as a second skin, is how we break out of our shells and harness our true, powerful selves – our very stylish selves!
"When a client comes to New York or Aspen, they don't just come to shop at Jitrois, we plan the whole trip for them, or we might go hang out with them on their yacht in Miami, we form personal relationships. We might send a client flowers on their birthday and they know that it's genuine. Building personal relationships is part of our philosophy here and it always pays off. We are very flexible, we open our hand to our clients, and a huge part of our business is special orders. The big fashion houses aren't custom making anything anymore, especially in a short time frame, it just isn't cost effective for them anymore, but we want to ensure every woman who comes through our door receives exactly what she wants. Our first shop in Aspen was super successful because everyone there is from different parts of the country, so it was an amazing marketing window for us to connect and make friends and build clients nationwide and they know we'll bend over backwards for them. For example, nobody wants to see someone else wearing their same dress, so I'll never sell a piece to someone if I know their friend has the same design or if I know someone else already planned to wear a certain dress to the same event. That's also why I'm very particular about who can carry our brand, I want our designs to remain exclusive."
While women of all ages appreciate the leather label's sleek and sexy designs, the target Jitrois client is in her 40s, 50s and 60s. "Jitrois is geared for a woman who is educated, sophisticated and chic," added Lewaa. "If she's a lawyer she can wear our skirts to court, and then can dress it up for a night out. Our woman works out and is confident, and wearing our clothes is the cherry on top for her. When she puts a Jitrois piece on, she looks sexy and more importantly, feels sexy. We have a permanent collection with everyday pieces featuring leather skirts and leather jackets as well as a seasonal, more embellished line."
This customer relations oriented company also supports many charities and enjoys being able to give back. While Lewaa and his team are constantly traveling to meet with clients, exhibit trunk shows or put on events, including an upcoming show in St. Louis where they will show off their pieces with a full-piece orchestra playing, Lewaa also knows when it's time to take a step back before moving forward.
"We don't rush to do things, I feel my way in business like a blind person. With every step I take, I make sure I'm putting my foot in the right spot. I have been offered many amazing opportunities, but I don't do anything until I know the time is right."
In addition to opening a Jitrois shop sometime next year in Los Angeles, the face of this beloved brand will soon have his own namesake store which will be connected to the new Aspen location. Lewaa K. will be a place where men can shop Lewaa's favorite looks, from designers he likes to wear including John Varvatos, Belstaff, as well as an accessories and belts line from J.W. Cooper.
The stylish executive of this equally stylish label explained that the latest Jitrois collection "explores the roots of humanity, art and Mother Earth. The suede and leather evoke the nuances of the city of Paris's unique soul beneath gray skies. Beautiful embroideries sparkle like the lights of the Seine, emphasizing the prevalence of women in modern time. This season, the Paris based design team built each piece around what is called the high profile – long skirts unzip to the thigh to reveal provocative miniskirts beneath. Jitrois' expert tailors carved the second-skin leather jackets, dresses and pants while the soft suede pieces swirl in movement like clouds scudding across a Parisian sky, creating pure couture magic that sets the bar for perfection."
Wearing stretch leather, which the brand is responsible for creating, is like wearing a second skin. The pieces accentuate the wearers underlying sexiness in a way that is unique to the Jitrois experience. For Jitrois, leather is a material that protects you but also puts you in the limelight.
The future of Jitrois will remain stylish – and sustainable – as they will continue making dynamic pieces from their signature high quality leather, while further exploring the deep connection between leather and skin. The fashion house, known for its craftsmanship and materials, also stands for empowerment and sustainability, which is why "Jitrois is in the process of exploring the use of leather alternatives and is already discussing these possible new materials with leaders in the bio-fabrication of animal free leather." According to Jitrois "all industries must evolve and strive to be more sustainable at a time when it's of the utmost importance to reflect on one's footprint on the world."
Lewaa also believes that "French women have a way of putting themselves together effortlessly. They look great with a less is more attitude. American woman tend to want to show what they've got. It's a different kind of confidence. The attitude of the American woman ranges, but here, there are no limits."
While the Jitrois standards have remained the same, social media has played a huge part in changing fashion trends. "Some young consumers are probably more likely to buy an item they've seen on a reality star or on Instagram via their phones, rather than from a shop window," said Lewaa. "Still, nothing can replace an in-store experience when it comes to creating real brand understanding. Before the rise of the Internet, the only way to see a fashion show was with a ticket, but with all of this online streaming, the customer can now partake in the experience and view new collections at the same time as editors and buyers. Consumer's interaction with the industry is so fast forward and quick. We at Jitrois are using social media platforms on a daily basis to create content about our collections. Showing details of our pieces through imagery and videos is a creative process and has given us a new way to share the Jitrois vision with our followers. As a result of this dynamic interaction, the trends are also changing throughout the industry."
Lewaa doesn't just bring style, he also sticks to his principles, and demonstrates that you always have to "do what's best for your clients, even if it may not seem to be what is best for you. That mentality will build a solid base for the business in the long term. Being able to introduce the Jitrois brand to a new market in the United States over the last five years has been a career highlight. I know that I have a long road ahead of me, in terms of my career, but I will look back at this time as being a pivotal point in my life."
When he's not welcoming customers at his Madison Avenue boutique, Lewaa likes to spend time in Aspen, one of his favorite places, as well as where he opened his first Jitrois location. His vision has breathed new life into the brand, which is only getting bigger and better with every beautiful and unique piece. Just step inside one of their stores to see for yourself – just be warned – you might leave feeling more confident in your new luxurious leather!