From the Italian phrase meaning “of luxury,” Dilusso is described by its co-founder and CEO Paul Chakour as “an experiential way of acquiring luxury essentials for men.” The key word is experience because as luxury consumers, Dilusso’s founders, which also include Don Kinney and Khalil Ghorbani, know what they would want from their product and what it comes down to is a highly personalized, interactive curation process. “We found that through a study of the markets, there was a lot of subscription box services, a lot of surprise box services but really focused at the low end,” said Chakour. “Even though a lot of them were called luxury, there wasn’t anything that was delivering reputable, known luxury names and experiences.”
Dilusso came to my attention through Instagram, which has become a crucial tool for the company. In fact, it is an outgrowth of Instagram and the culture surrounding the major brands, brand ambassadors and lifestyle gurus that populate the social media platform. “We followed a lot of these accounts ourselves, just on a personal level, and we could see the kind of responses they were getting,” explained Chakour. “So we really saw how powerful Instagram could be, and that’s why we generally focused on that for our pre-launch activities as well as our initial curators.”
Dilusso officially launched in October of 2015, but their Instagram activity began long before that, as Chakour and Kinney worked for nine months to gather a following and build brand partnerships. In the process, they brought on board a leading lifestyle blogger. Ghorbani, who founded the PaneraiCentral blog as a resource for Panerai enthusiasts out of his own enthusiasm for the brand, has since garnered a major following, namely over 300,000 Instagram followers as of the publication of this article. PaneraiCentral became Dilusso’s first curator and Ghorbani became a cofounder.
“The next step was bringing on other curators that are recognizable in the social media space,” said Ghorbani, “I’ve been in it since pretty much the inception of Instagram, I have forged a lot of relationships with all of these different brand ambassadors.” One such relationship was with WhatUsMenLike, who runs a luxury lifestyle Instagram page that exceeds even PaneraiCentral, with 365,000 followers. He became Dilusso’s second curator.
Their job as curators is to put together a collection of luxury items tailored to the interests, style, and preferences of the client. They choose from a portfolio of brands available to Dilusso and/or brands which the curator has access to or a relationship with. There is no inventory, items are purchased specifically for each box and consultation is live. That means the client speaks directly to the curator and has access to the founders of the company as well. Even if you haven’t committed to buying a box, if you look on the Dilusso website, you will find that you can actually chat with the founders and ask about the process. Overall, the entire process takes three full weeks.
Dilusso embraces social media, but rejects the cold disconnect normally associated with technology and commerce. The founders emphasize experience because Dilusso is a highly interpersonal process. A client must communicate and form a relationship with the curator and the founders so that the outcome actually represents them. In turn, the founders and curators must have good relationships with the brands with which they work so they can make their clients happy. In that way, there are very few degrees of separation between everyone. More than that, Dilusso also personally hand delivers in North America, closing the circle and demonstrating their devotion to customer satisfaction.
This has been missing from the luxury market as of late. “Unfortunately, things have fallen short on the retail side of things because the level of service isn’t what maybe it once was or what people are expecting, whether it’s the sales associate not having the knowledge and the background on a particular product or the product range,” explained Chakour. When the founders were building connections with brands leading up to the launch of Dilusso, they were pleasantly surprised by the level of positive feedback they received. “[Luxury brands] really felt they were lacking in engagement with the customer…so they felt that this was a way to bridge that gap and really connect with the customer better,” said Chakour.
Who is Dilusso for? Dilusso is perfect for the discerning and affluent man celebrating a milestone. “We hear about that all the time in business: people buying themselves watches when they exit a company, or get acquired or get funding, whatever it is, we’re just taking that one step further,” said Chakour. There is also corporate space, which can use Dilusso as a go-to gifting solution for corporate executives.
Chakour provides an additional scenario: “You purchase a luxury apartment in New York City and the realtor provides you with a Dilusso box full of luxury essentials from watches to cufflinks, to leather goods as well as experiences [Dilusso is partnered with Les Concierges] whether they’re in the U.S. or internationally, it’s definitely a lot more valuable than a bottle of champagne.” It’s important to note that Dilusso isn’t just about tangible goods. As much as they want people to value the experience of being a Dilusso customer, the box itself comes with valuable events like VIP access to sporting events, Grammy Awards, yacht charters and private jets to name a few.
Dilusso is still young and will continue to expand its number of curators and brand partnerships. They’re off to a great start, having already worked with David Ortiz of the Boston Red Socks, creating a Limited Edition “Big Papi” Box which was auctioned off at Ortiz’s Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic to raise money for The David Ortiz Children’s Fund. People value commitment to quality and Dilusso is well aware of it. They are also aware that everyone has different tastes. “There has to be some level of exclusivity and price point and craftsmanship, but there isn’t a formula with an exact science, cause there is an emotion involved with what luxury is too,” Chakour explained. “What’s luxury for me may not be luxury for someone else.” Whatever your reason for purchasing a Dilusso luxury surprise box, when you get that knock on your door and open that mahogany box for the first time, you’ll never forget it.