LOS ANGELES — After more than a decade of being absent from the West Coast, Esprit is making a California comeback.
The brand, once a youth-bent West Coast stalwart that vanished from the market in the Nineties, has opened its first stand-alone store in California, on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade.
The 4,500-square-foot store, formerly home to Sephora, opened earlier this month and has 3,000 square feet of retail selling space.
Esprit, which has long had a European and Asian focus, hopes to capture the attention of shoppers along the promenade, a three-block pedestrian-only shopping strip that draws some 40,000 to 50,000 visitors on weekends.
“We always wanted to return to our roots…and this Santa Monica spot fit the brand perfectly,” said Shauwan Johnson, Esprit North America’s merchandise manager. “It’s highly visible and there’s so much foot traffic from both local and international shoppers.”
Retail rents along the promenade stretch are typically about $210 a square foot annually.
Esprit has about 900 stores in Europe, and will become the title sponsor of Düsseldorf Arena in Germany in July. Its U.S. presence is small but growing, with 13 stand-alone stores. Most are on the East Coast, with four in Manhattan and others in New Jersey, Connecticut and Annapolis, Md.
The new Santa Monica store is part of a larger retail push for the Hong Kong-based brand, which was founded in San Francisco and was popular in the Eighties. By the Nineties, though, Esprit collapsed amid dwindling sales, financial missteps and internal turmoil — including the very public divorce of founders Susie and Doug Tompkins.
Now traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange, Esprit made its reentry into the U.S. five years ago with a store in Manhattan and is now profitable, though it isn’t yet in the black in the U.S. market.
Johnson said she anticipates California will be one of Esprit’s strongest U.S. markets, given the brand’s reasonable price points and colorful, casual styles.
The Santa Monica space is designed with high ceilings, open space and modern fixtures for a clean, airy aesthetic.
The store carries the full range of Esprit merchandise, from $16 T-shirts to $120 flowered dresses and handbags from $50 to $110.
Esprit’s home on the Promenade is adjacent to Macerich-owned Santa Monica Place mall, which is being transformed into an open-air shopping center that should reopen next year. Santa Monica and the surrounding area boast enviable demographics, with a median age of 39 and an average household income topping $100,000.
But the recession has hit the Los Angeles area hard — more than 30 stores have closed along Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue shopping district and sales are declining along the Promenade as well. Santa Monica Place delayed its debut from 2009 until mid-2010.
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)