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Los Angeles fashion design duo Emily Current and Meritt Elliott parted ways with their eponymous, denim-focused label Current/Elliot six years ago and, in 2015, launched women’s fashion line The Great. Hitting a high-low sweet spot, the brand’s easygoing clothes and footwear put a cool spin on Americana-inflected styles; fans include Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon, Mandy Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Kristen Bell. And now the company has opened its first boutique on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, decorated to mirror the brand’s aesthetic.
“When we looked at our line, there were certain pillars that stood out to us,” says Current. “One was the denim, so we worked with Portola Paints to build a custom paint color that took on the character of denim and then we partnered with [interior designer] Brigette Romanek to create brass hanging bars that reflect our rivets and buttons. The green Moroccan field tile symbolizes our army green jackets and garment-dyed twills. And then there are feminine elements mixed in, like the Murano glass chandelier, because we love Victorian lace and the tension between masculine and feminine. We were able to build out layer after layer of décor, which plays into what we try to do with fashion.”
The store stocks The Great’s complete collections of apparel and footwear, launched last year. Think comfy, vintage-inspired jeans and sweatshirts (many dressed up with prints or embroidery), swingy army jackets and pants in a Japanese twill the designers developed, T-shirt dresses, and billowy-sleeved blouses and frocks that leave plenty of room to breathe, along with scarf-tie sandals, hand-stitched moccasins and antique-y ankle boots.
“Until now our shoe collection really hasn’t been represented in any store, and we’ve already had people come in and buy the same shoe in multiple colors, because all our shoes are really comfortable and different from what’s out there in the market,” says Elliott. “Knits are our biggest category, so there’s a huge representation of the knit program in the store in different garment-dyed colors, all made here in L.A.” adds Current.
The Great Little, the children’s line of mini sweatshirts, dresses, pants, tees and onesies in sizes 2T to 5T, is displayed on a huge wooden Edwardian carousel swan.
Given that vintage finds are a constant source of inspiration for the designers, it’s no surprise that vintage styles are in the mix. There are 1970s-era Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, floral-embroidered Mickey Mouse sweatshirts and T-shirts (a nod to the West Coast spirit of the brand), tooled leather bags, oversize army totes crafted from old mail bags, white Victorian lace-embellished dresses and a curation of estate jewelry such as Victorian lockets by Los Angeles-based fine jewelry designer Sarah Hendler. The assortment changes weekly.
“We’re huge collectors and we get most of our inspiration from vintage,” says Current. “Our goal is to keep the authenticity, but to make pieces that feel softer and are more wearable. Having the vintage is so much of who we are and how we came to be where we are and we’ll never lose that. It’s really an extension of our brand that we nurture.”
Rounding out the lifestyle assortment is a curation of finds from some of the designers’ favorite brands, mostly female-owned. There are candles and Japanese indigo-dyed blankets, Coqui Coqui fragrance, Wary Meyers soap, Sisters Body nontoxic hair and body products, hats created for the store by local milliner Gladys Tamez, and handmade ceramics by L.A. artists Lucy Michel, Rami Kim and Chris Earl.
There are plans to use a patio space for private events, trunk shows and lifestyle classes on subjects such as floral arranging.
So what’s next in terms of brand extensions? When asked about the possibility of a men’s line, Current says, “Everyone’s asking and we never say never! Our products lend themselves to what guys like — soft garment-washed classics — and some men on the smaller side who are very stylish and work in fashion all over the world actually do buy our knits, so there is an appetite. We’re so blessed that The Great has been so successful and we’re spread really thin. But as soon as we can beef up our talent team, that might be next on the agenda, sure!”
The Great, 8575 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
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