Los Angeles retail tour highlights

On route to ShopTalk 2018 in Las Vegas we checked out a number of different retail precincts in Los Angeles and here are our highlights.

It had been just over three years since my last trip to LA, so what had changed and what remained constant. Abbot Kinney Boulevard was once again recommended, there had been a few casualties since the previous visit. Kit&Ace had come and gone, a number of independent food offerings had gone and in their place a few more chains. A trend to highlight was the growing number of country curated stores.

Borrowing brand equity of a country

Stores trading on the equity of a country and curating a collection of products showcasing that aesthetic.

Aust – Australian products and style
Huset – Modern Scandinavian living
Tortoise General Store – General and one of a kind Japanese goods

Ethical Fashion

The second highlight from Abbot Kinney and one to watch to see if consumers really do value all of the new age considered impact principles, is Industry of all nations. This brand and store is ticking all the boxes of humanity and ethical fashion. From unisex clothing, conscious impact, sustainability; both the environment and the industry through to diversity. The store is easy to navigate with breathing space given to the clothing and engaging interest through their bank of wrapped packages. Overheard in store was the customers delight in the unisex offer and quality “this stuff is dope Jeff”.

Gentle Monster

This one was on the hit list from the outset and it didn’t disappoint. Placement wise you will find it in downtown LA surrounded by the likes of Urban Outfitters, our very own Aesop and Acne Studios. But realising it is there and what it is, isn’t immediately obvious. The store front is not like your traditional store front, instead of calls of afterpay and latest store offers paired with product VM it is an art instillation similar to that of a carwash brushes. I observed a number of street passers curiously looking through the window, unsure just what ‘Gentle Monster’ is. That is the first tick to today’s new retail, create a following with an in the know customer.

The store is located behind the instillation, the footprint is large considering the product is no bigger than 15cm. The art instillation continues and I am greeted and welcomed with this as the first element. Each store has an instillation and the current theme is harvest, I am offered a tour of the exhibition and an overview of the brand, Korean in origin. Considering the street foot traffic the store is consistent with a flow of customers. The service is supportive and friendly without being too much. The product offers an accessible price point c. $300US/pair for a quality product. On purchase the packaging is premium and after sales service support is available globally should you have any issues. The only really missing piece is the giving back strategy.

Queues for Kicks

Although it sounds like a cool store name it is my take on what is happing in many cities across the US. The more I delve into this the more interested I become and shameful of my worn-out converse. The sneaker game is strong here, so much so Nike have carved out this customer with an isolated strategy. In my strolling through LA I saw two glimpses of this Nice Kicks in downtown LA and Supreme in Hollywood. At Nice Kicks some customers had brought chairs for the line, the store was allowing one group of customers at a time and everyone left with a bag. This was for a limited release sneaker. Whereas at Supreme it is a daily occurrence not purely for sneakers just for the brand itself.

Los Angeles - Supreme store line ups
Los Angeles - Nice Kicks

Kith

Last but by no means least, situated within Fred Segal West Hollywood was Kith. This Kith store has only recently opened and is one of 7 stores nationwide. The store design is a playground for the, what I would call ‘gangster look’ and as a shopper you want to buy in. The curated product is focused in the look but not necessarily the category. Sneakers is the pillar in the centre displayed beautifully and surrounded by clothing through to accessories. Including a vintage Chanel bag or two. Store like this are lifting the bar of retail today, tapping into the customer mindset and showcasing products in new and different ways.

Los Angeles - Kith
Los Angeles - Kith - Shoes

Author Jessica Sinclair

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