Meet the man behind your new favorite jewelry brand – Lagos Jewelry

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Steven Lagos, the founder and designer of LAGOS jewelry, is known for outfitting some of the East End’s most stylish guys. Meet the maverick behind the beautiful balls!

How did you start getting interested in jewelry?
From an early age, I knew I wanted to live a creative life. I grew up in the 70s when the focus was on craftsmanship, and that had a huge influence on me. I started with a small trade store and was able to gain a lot of experience working with the most seasoned jewelers in town. They became my mentors and I learned the techniques and skills to become a master jeweler. I started selling at a high end department store in Philadelphia. Then one day I cold called Neiman Marcus, and a year later they were creating a new category of bridge jewelry and asked me to get involved.

When you launched the brand, what was your initial vision?
I founded LAGOS based on the idea that jewelry is the most personal art form you can own. I wanted to create jewelry that women would cherish and feel confident about. I saw there was a gap in the wearable fine jewelry market and liked the idea of ​​creating a product with a distinct point of view. I saw how Calvin Klein was building a brand with jeans, and I wanted to do that with jewelry.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
My approach to everything is that form follows function. It’s easy to make things look great, but it’s the way things meet a physical or emotional need that makes women cherish them.

How has this approach evolved over the years?
We are always looking for ways to innovate our Caviar designs. I travel all the time and get inspiration from all over the world. I consider myself a treasure hunter because I’m out in the world, always looking for new materials to use. I go to dozens of shows every year looking for the next thing. For me, it’s really about taking old-world craftsmanship and enhancing it with technology, without changing what makes it special.

What do you consider your first big hit?
Everyone measures success differently. I felt good when I was running my trade store. I felt like I was successful when I joined Neiman Marcus and when we achieved certain business milestones over the years. There wasn’t a major moment; I continue to celebrate successes as they arise.

How was the Caviar Collection born?
Caviar is LAGOS’ signature design, with handcrafted pearls featured in every piece in every collection. It originated in the 1980s when I was working on a hematite necklace that reminded me of caviar, which universally represents luxury. It felt like the perfect fit for the growing brand I was building, and customers responded really well to it.

How do you achieve this Caviar effect in the manufacturing process?
Our process is proprietary, but I can tell you that Caviar beadwork is made in workshops by artisan jewelers, and it takes hundreds of steps to complete a single Caviar creation. The unique texture is truly a feat of expert craftsmanship and engineering. It is the interlocking of the beads that makes the jewelry move with the body and feel like a second skin.

What is the story behind the piece “Smart Caviar”? How does it work with Apple Watch or other smart device?
I developed Smart Caviar because I’m a huge fan of the Apple Watch’s design and functionality, but felt it lacked a high jewelry element. As with all of our collections, I just wanted to provide options. So we presented Smart Caviar, a high jewelry bracelet for the Apple Watch. It’s perfect for the modern woman who doesn’t want to sacrifice style to stay connected.

Where is LAGOS currently sold and distributed?
The brand is available at lagos.com, as well as at luxury retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and more than 250 independent jewelers nationwide. We also have a flagship store in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. In terms of scale, we currently sell over 250,000 pieces per year.

Why is LAGOS so popular in the Hamptons?
Our signature Caviar design is comfortable, easy to wear and easily transitions from day to night. It works for the Hamptons lifestyle because it has a look that can take you from the beach to dinner.

What are your favorite activities in the East?
I wish I had more time to spend in the Hamptons. I spend most of my time “in the East”, but in Asia. I travel constantly for business and pleasure, and enjoy exploring local art, culture and people.

What are your most popular pieces at the moment?
Smart Caviar is one of those rare collections that are both commercially and editorially successful. It was a huge hit when we launched and continues to sell out. Our classic Caviar rope bracelets in 18k gold, sterling silver and black ceramic are also customer favourites.

How has the advent of social media changed your business?
I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, so it wasn’t long before we offered online access to our brand. It’s a great opportunity to connect directly with consumers in real time compared to the old way, where we only had one-sided conversations through advertising. Now we can communicate with our loyal brand fans and introduce LAGOS to a new generation at the same time.

If you had to organize a dream dinner, who would be the guests?
I like spending time with interesting people who inspire me. The strong, bold women in my life would be first on my list – my daughter, my fiancé. Then probably some of the artists I follow and collect. In fact, I recently hosted a dinner where we mixed journalists with politicians, artists, film and hospitality professionals. It’s fun to see so many different personalities come together and inspire each other.

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