This month’s edit of Stores We Love comes straight from our recent travels to Los Angeles where we explored some of the best stores the expansive city has to offer. Take a look at our pick…
Located on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Converse opened its first West Coast US flagship, which extends 8,200sqft. Offering the largest collection of brand footwear and apparel in the world, the store centres on product customisation; the expansive customisation area features mural artwork that spans the walls and ceiling and was created during store opening hours by the Montreal-based collaborative drawing project, EN MASSE. Definitely a WOW retail space.
The Downtown area of LA is being regenerated with the likes of cult Scandinavian brand Acne recently opening its largest store, and the on-going commercial refurbishment of grand art deco theatres. Among this change, Fredrik Carlstrom has opened a multidisciplinary space called Austere. The space, a first of its kind in the US, is a retail space, venue and online magazine celebrating the simplicity of Scandinavian design, previously unexplored by the US market.
Situated in the previously neglected Broadway district of Los Angeles, the neon lights of the Rialto Theatre (1917) have been brought back to life by Urban Outfitters. Located near the Acne flagship and trendy Ace Hotel, the 10,000sqft open-plan retail space responds to the nature of the building with the addition of art installations from local artists, theatrical lighting hung via rigging and a photobooth. The brick wall featured at the back of the store has been painted white and is used to play film projections, emulating a movie screen to align with the historic theatre theme.
The LA-based streetwear label Joyrich owns one physical retail space worldwide. As we were driving down Melrose Avenue, the store created such an impact with its pink floral exterior we felt obliged to double back and explore. The relatively small space is ultra modern with its clean bright lights and use of digital screens, showing the latest lookbook campaign. Striking VM displays break up the space, distinguish the various brand collaborations and encourage the customer to step into, and get lost in, the Joyrich world.
Skate brand Supreme is located a few doors from Crooks & Castles on Fairfax and offers another standout retail experience with its own indoor skate bowl. While it isn’t open for customer use, the skate bowl is often used by local skateboarding pros whose sessions are broadcast via the store video wall for customers to watch. Product is not the main store attraction with merchandise occupying only 20%. In effect, the space takes the form of a lifestyle hub to facilitate customer dwell time and brand loyalty.
It’s not surprising we came across numerous stores belonging to this LA-based brand and manufacturer. The stores were tailored to their surrounding areas with the likes of beach boutiques down by the shorefront and more glamorous venues situated in Hollywood. The most impressive store was the American Apparel positioned on Melrose Avenue, which oozes the fun retro feel of the brand with a deep blue exterior, emblazoned with the white American Apparel logo and angular chrome window frames.
Well-known for its creative retail spaces in New York, Tokyo and London, LA’s Opening Ceremony is no different. The space is a hub of emerging, bold fashion brands with an experiential approach to retail design to match. The store design revolves around the building’s architecture (which also happens to be Charlie Chaplin’s old dance studio) and includes the brand name sculpted in leafy bushes in front of the store. Inside, customers navigate statement fashion through showstopping VM and small alcoves featured across the store’s two levels. During our visit, COS was hosting a pop-up ahead of its first store opening later this year.
The Kate Spade Saturday store is an instant draw on West 3rd Street with its traffic-stopping yellow fascia and graphic black and white stripes. The yellow theme continues in store and is accompanied by large neon signage that glows above shoppers’ heads, developing the fun and vibrant concept further. Opening in late 2013, the store is the second US location for Kate Spade’s sister brand aimed at 25-30-year-old women.
Opening at the end of 2013 among streetwear favourites Diamond Supply Co, Supreme, and Pink Dolphin, the Crooks & Castles’ new concept store on Fairfax Avenue balances exposed brick walls and solid concrete flooring with a warm wood entrance and vintage furniture. The standout store feature is the Mercedes-Benz car that was selected by brand owner Rob Panlilio and welcomes you into the street-cool space.
Luxury New York fragrance brand Le Labo believes there is more to perfume than meets the nose and focuses on a higher quality of customer experience to build a lasting relationship. The store feels more like a chemistry lab than your normal beauty counter with scales, mixing beakers and lines of small dark bottles of fragrance ready to be measured and mixed in front of the customers’ eyes. It is the ultimate personal fragrance experience, involving the customer in the feeling of brand co-creation.