By  on May 14, 2008

Kitson, the fad-driven boutique on Robertson Boulevard here, is branching out for fall.

Owner Fraser Ross is planning Kitson's first location in a lifestyle mall in the Americana at Brand, which opened this month in suburban Glendale, and a store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood is back on track after resolution of a zoning dispute.

"I would be naïve if I said I'm not worried about the economy," Ross said. "I don't know if things are getting worse or better. There's always a trend in the market that you can chase. We sell a lot of different brands....The diversity really helps us."

The new stores will give Kitson seven locations, including four on Robertson and one in Dubai.

"The rents on Robertson are getting a little ridiculous and the street is getting a little more corporate, so it was time to aggressively expand elsewhere," Ross said, adding that he is in negotiations to open another store near Santa Monica next year. "I love it there, but we don't need Robertson as much as Robertson needs us."

Kitson helped build Robertson's reputation as a hot retail venue through celebrity shoppers like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Among the street's stores are Lisa Kline, Intermix and Tory Burch. In addition, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana's D&G concept and Chanel are on tap.

Kitson at the Americana will be 15,000 square feet and designed like a department store, with women's, children's and gift merchandise on the 10,000-square-foot ground level and men's wear, which Ross cited as a fast-growing segment, on the 5,000-square-foot second floor.

"We wanted to go into The Grove [in Los Angeles] but there was no room," Ross said. "This is a bit farther away, so we can pull from a different market. It's like The Grove on steroids and the competition isn't heavy for us, so it made sense."

The 7,000-square-foot Melrose Avenue store also will be two floors, and Ross signed a 10-year lease. The space was the subject of a disagreement with the city of West Hollywood — and a subsequent lawsuit against the landlord that has been resolved — over whether it was zoned for retail and had sufficient parking.Balenciaga recently opened its West Coast flagship near the future Kitson location on Melrose, Beckley will open this summer and Alberta Ferretti is slated to come. The area already includes John Varvatos, Maxfield and H. Lorenzo's green concept store HLNR.

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