By  on June 20, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Contemporary brand Theory has opened its second store in Southern California, joining a growing number of brand names on the two-block strip of Melrose Avenue across from Melrose Place.

The 4,000-square-foot corner unit has neighbors such as Diane von Furstenberg, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diabless and A.P.C. Helmut Lang, which is owned by Theory's parent company, Link Theory Holdings Co. Ltd., is to launch a boutique next to Theory in late summer.

"You have a very exciting group of stores that are opening on [Melrose Avenue]," said Theory president and co-founder Andrew Rosen, adding that Southern California is the company's second-largest market after New York. Theory launched its first retail store in the region last year at South Coast Plaza shopping center in Costa Mesa, Calif. "We wanted to open a store in L.A. proper," he said.

Rosen declined to discuss sales expectations for the store, which carries the entire Theory collection. "Our business is expanding and has been expanding globally,'' he said. "Both New York and Los Angeles are synonymous with contemporary fashion. I think, clearly, as Theory thinks about expanding that both cities are important."

The design of the Melrose Avenue space, a former art gallery, is based on the company's Manhattan flagship, which opened last November on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. Still, California sunshine is a key design element in the store, pouring through floor-to-ceiling windows that comprise about half the total wall space. Apparel, which is priced from about $60 for a tank top to $1,000 for suiting, hangs from moveable ceiling fixtures inspired by industrial meat racks.

Slouchy leather handbags occupy low, white-painted wooden tables and hang from hooks. Silver metal tables displaying accessories such as sunglasses, belts and candles break up the store's black-and-white color scheme. Mies van der Rohe-inspired white leather chairs and benches pepper the space, often near large potted cacti and succulent plants. The floor is concrete.

"The response has been great so far," said store manager Annaka Nielsen, who also helped launch the South Coast Plaza unit.

The New York-based company was founded in 1997 and operates 16 full-priced retail stores and 15 outlets in the U.S., in addition to one store in each of these locales: Paris, Monaco, Athens, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

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