The highly anticipated new Fred Segal flagship — boasting an enormous 13,000 square feet of shopping space at the junction of La Cienega Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard — is opening this week with an experiential offering that plays up Los Angeles as a destination for discovering niche and new fashion.
The store includes an outpost of San Francisco-based foodie destination Tartine, along with shop-in-shops from Levi’s (a label that Fred Segal has sold continuously for 50 years), L.A. shoemaker George Esquivel, arty designer label Libertine, unisex fashion brand Seeker and more.
"Fred Segal has always been a place of discovery," Fred Segal president John Frierson tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Many of the designers will be coming into the stores [regularly] and meeting their customers. People are worried about retail, but we’re connecting the dot between the creators and the customers. It’s really personal."
A cornerstone of the L.A. retail scene since 1961, when it debuted as a designer denim emporium, Fred Segal grew into a then-novel conglomeration of shop-in-shops that introduced up-and-coming labels synonymous with SoCal style (think Juicy Couture, Hard Candy Cosmetics and Earl Jeans). The retailer’s iconic ivy-covered locations on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood and Santa Monica (shuttered last year) attracted the who’s who of Hollywood, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow, and the name Fred Segal has been name-dropped in many a film, including 1995's Clueless.
In 2012, New York-based media company Sandow acquired global licensing rights to the Fred Segal name and the company (now owned by Sandow in conjunction with Evolution Media Partners, a joint venture of talent agency CAA, private equity firm TPG Growth and Participant Media) has three stores in Japan and one other L.A.-area shop at LAX International Airport that opened in 2013.
Some feared that the licensing of the legendary retailer’s name (Fred Segal himself is no longer involved) and the launch of logo products were moving the company away from its haute heritage. But the new Sunset Boulevard location seems like a move back toward the storied retailer’s roots.
The new flagship will also feature Unfortunate Portrait T-shirts by L.A. illustrator Max Dower, Venice-based leather jacket brand LTH JKT, L.A. company Atelier & Repairs’ one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage pieces, limited-run men’s and women’s footwear crafted by Buena Park-based designer Esquivel, and Johnson Hartig’s splashy L.A. fashion label Libertine for ladies and gents.
"Being an L.A. native, it’s exciting to finally have a proper shop-in-shop here," says Hartig, whose Libertine shop includes exclusive merch such as an L.A.-themed T-shirt, cashmere sweater and parka. "We can use it as an experimental testing ground. We wanted our area to be a space where people want to hang out. There are sequined chairs and we covered the wall with Moroccan rugs, for a mosaic effect, and spelled out ‘Libertine’ with multi-colored tapes in a D.I.Y. punk-rock style."
The most magical thing about the space is the floor-to-ceiling windows with views all the way downtown, Hartig says. "We’re going to hang a Libertine neon sign that will be visible when people drive up La Cienega." (How L.A. is that?)
"Fred Segal was my first luxury retailer; I sold to Fred Segal Feet about 15 years ago when Stanley Silver was the owner, so it’s kind of cool how it’s come full circle," says Esquivel, whose shop-in-shop is the brand’s first U.S. retail presence.
Also in the mix? The first West Coast location for New York's CAP Beauty; a revival of Beverly Hills gift shop Tesoro; the first store for floral and artisan gifting business Flower Girl Los Angeles by L.A. native Kelsey Harper; an outpost of Beverly Grove multi-label childrenswear shop Eggy; a curated optical shop by Phoenix retailer Framed Ewe; the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s rotating mix of apparel and accessories by established and emerging designers; and a 10-foot-tall, treehouse-inspired bookshelf housing vinyl records, scents, rugs, apparel, art and other products selected by Darren Romanelli’s L.A.-based Pancake Epidemic creative marketing agency.
An ever-changing 1,400-square-foot pop-up space at the front of the store will be initially inhabited by Levi’s, exclusively showcasing the launch of the Jacquard by Google technology integrated into a Levi’s denim Commuter jacket ($350) through Oct. 4. Activated through an app, the technology enables the wearer to answer phone calls, hear the time, play music, listen to navigational directions and more, simply by brushing a hand across the cuff of the jacket’s smart sleeve.
The flagship’s opening also marks the debut of the Fred Segal Originals line of fashion essentials, including denim, cashmere sweaters, T-shirts, leather and suede jackets.
The Levi’s pop-up space will be followed by a partnership with New York cap company New Era in November (featuring exclusive designs). Interscope Records is also slated to hold upcoming events in the space to showcase artists and launch new products. Coming later this fall are restaurateur Bill Chait’s new restaurant Tesse with chef Raphael Francois and wine shop (slated for November), along with a beauty salon and a fitness concept.
Fred Segal, 8500 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood