LOS ANGELES — Luggage company Away has found fashionable footing on Melrose Avenue for its first West Coast store.The outpost, totaling 1,200 square feet, comes on the heels of a holiday pop-up shop in downtown Los Angeles last year and the close of a $20 million Series B round in May. Away’s total raised to date is now $31 million.“We have an already existing, huge customer base in L.A. and a lot of people who really wanted to see an L.A. presence here, so L.A. was a natural fit,” said creative director Jen Rubio, who cofounded Away with chief executive officer Steph Korey.The store places the company close to brands such as APC, Chloé and The Row.“The vibe is perfect. It’s a lot of brands that Away customers associate with that are both emerging and more established traditional brands,” Rubio said.While Away luggage will be sold in the store, the company is also bringing in third-party brands for travel books, candles, shampoos and other related merchandise.The company, launched in 2015, has built a business selling functional luggage with features such as built-in USB chargers, TSA-approved locks and an exterior that promises to bend under pressure rather than crack. In the past, the company has collaborated with fashion brands such as Madewell and Pop & Suki, helping broaden its reach.Away estimates it will have between four and six stores up and running in a mix of both longer term and pop-up doors, according to Rubio. The company has a New York temporary space with a flagship set to open in the next quarter. Two additional longer term spaces in San Francisco and Austin, Tex., are expected to open before November.The push is backed by a good year spent testing Away at brick-and-mortar last year with several temporary spaces that proved to be more than a marketing play for the business.“We quickly realized that our hypothesis that retail wouldn’t be a big deal for us was wrong,” Rubio said of the pop-up testing. “Even though we have an amazing return policy, great customer service and a 100-day trial online…people still value the face-to-face interaction with the brand.”While in-store events, such as an acoustic set with musician Michael Angelakos from the band Passion Pit in the New York store, was a great exercise in adding a lifestyle component to the brand, Away was also able to track return visits. So while someone may have come into the store only for the acoustic set, they may have returned later on when they were in need of a suitcase.“It’s a great type of place for people to buy suitcases last minute and for people to see the product and obviously to have the traditional retail space, but all of the programming has been so valuable to us,” Rubio said.The company recently launched a quarterly print and digital magazine, called Here, to be distributed in its suitcases and available for sale in stores or online.The magazine debuted with Rashida Jones on the cover and includes interviews with Paloma Elsesser and Thaddeus O’Neil.“Here was created to be a voice for travelers by travelers,” said the magazine’s editorial director Ally Betker. “While Away allows people to travel more seamlessly, Here exists to share the stories of people who do. Away has been so disruptive in the luggage space, and Here is applying that same sensibility to travel content, providing readers with both beautifully written, in-depth stories and functional tips and information — a combination that’s lacking in traditional travel magazines.”For More Los Angeles Coverage in WWD:Kitson Founder Lawsuit Alleges Lender Pump-and-Dump SchemeExperience Matters: Inside the Mind of Enfants Riches Deprimes Founder Henry LevyDefining West Coast Style is Not So SimpleBebe to Sell Los Angeles Design Studio for $35M
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.