Photo by Brooke Berry

Photo by Brooke Berry


Bila77 Re-emerges With New California-Lifestyle Look

Two interesting things rocked the fashion world in 1977. On the East Coast, the film “Saturday Night Fever” was released, spreading New York disco style to the world. And on the West Coast, a small psychedelic fashion label was born in San Francisco called Bila77. And just as the film lives forever as an iconic slice of American life, so has Bila77 found new life with a summer 2022 relaunch.

The look is as far from the Brooklyn disco scene as you can get, and even the San Francisco counterculture vibe is gone. What remains, or has been reborn, is pure sunshine.

“I think there’s currently a void for the California-lifestyle look we’re going after,” said Omar Dittu, son of the brand’s founders.

And in case any Golden State residents need a reminder, what exactly is the California-lifestyle look? “Clothes that will take you from the city to the beach,” said Bila77 designer Melissa Leon. “There’s definitely an ease of wear to our pieces, which carry from the beach to work and to a dinner date.”

The cohesive collection, which reentered the market in June, features comfortable, flowing silhouettes. Soft pants and jumpsuits were reordered by new accounts almost immediately. Prints are completely exclusive, based on copyrighted artwork, with some drawing on company archives from the ’80s and early ’90s.

Everything is designed in-house, down to laces and eyelets, which is unusual, Leon said, for a brand priced in the $50-to-$200 range. “Everything is uniquely ours. We’re also very deliberate about what we produce and don’t really buy into the churn-and-burn, fast-fashion pieces. We want pieces to live for years, to be cherished and kept in closets. And we’re definitely not trying to just chase after trends,” Leon said.

The focus on longevity starts with the fabrics, which consist of low-impact recycled polyester, organic cotton and sustainably sourced rayon, all of which require less water consumption and produce fewer greenhouse gases. “When we decided to relaunch, we definitely wanted to make better choices for our earth,” said Dittu, “and that really starts at the fabric level.”

Bila77 has been continuously active since its founding in 1977 but had taken something of a backseat to the family main line, Bila, a mass-market misses brand that is being phased out. A web presence has finally been created,, with e-commerce and sun-drenched photo shoots done in Hawaii.

“We’re ready to bring things to the next level for the next generation,” said Dittu. “We’re taking a new focus that wasn’t there before, a boutique and sustainable focus, and it’s younger so it reaches a broader customer base.”

But if “77” refers to the year of the brand’s founding, what does “bila” mean? “That’s actually a very good question,” laughs Dittu. “According to my dad, it can either be a blue-eyed cat or a blue-eyed boy.”

That father, Reyman Dittu, is of Kashmiri heritage and left Pakistan for London, where he designed and sold apparel in a booth on King’s Road and met Marybeth Dittu, a native of Missouri. In the ’70s they moved to San Francisco to live the quintessential counterculture life, making tie-dyes out of their apartment in the famed Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. They are still active with the brand though have turned over its operations to son Omar and stepped back to focus on the big picture.

At age 38, Omar has worked in the family business, presently based in Los Angeles, all his life. He developed a cult following for Bila77 in Japan, where he successfully sold reproductions of the brand’s vintage looks before COVID threw the venture for a loop.

Contacted the week before showing at the MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas, Omar Dittu was full of the excitement of a new brand showing its wares for the first time. “This great team has been through a lot with COVID,” he said, “and just to come through it all with this new, inspirational line is key to the success I know we’re going to have. We’re a small team but work hard.”

Bila77’s manufacturing is done in India with factories the Dittu family has worked with for over 30 years, proving that “family business” can sometimes mean a global family.