SANTA MONICA, Calif. — White House Black Market has a new concept inspired by Southern California's casual lifestyle.
The mid-market retailer opens the new boutique at Macerich Co.'s Santa Monica Place mall on Saturday. At 2,400 square feet, the store size is consistent with White House Black Market's other nationwide locations, but its design and product mix cater to the local "resort" culture.
"One of the things we've been working on is how to localize our store design by region," Alexandra Onofrio, senior vice president of marketing and visual for WHBM, told WWD. For the inaugural Santa Monica store, that meant incorporating organic materials like brushed wood, sea glass, ceramic surfaces and soft neutral tones into the brand's signature black and white palette.
Beach and surf themes are used throughout, like a cabana-style fitting room with natural fiber wallpaper and black and white photography of SoCal beaches, surfers and palm trees.
Onofrio said that merchandising will also be localized for the SoCal shopper. "We are taking the current assortment, editing it, and making sure it resonates with the consumer here," she explains, using the brand's holiday tuxedo jacket as an example: "It could be merchandised with denim or a little dress."
The store will also include digital elements from White House Black Market's "Store of the Future" concept first introduced in Orlando last November. Created in partnership with Google Chrome Box and Uniguest, the outward-facing digital window screens and in-store monitors project seasonal campaigns, how-to-wear editorials and special promotions, and are easily adapted to fit the needs of the brand or the customer on any given day. "If we decide when we get new product that we want a change, we can do that at the touch of the button from our home office and send to the store," said Onofrio.
In addition, the boutique's "tech table" features an eye-catching surfboard and large iPad and enables customers to browse the brand's entire assortment on the e-commerce website and social feeds.
White House Black Market has over 450 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, and Onofrio said there is a plan to open a similar resort concept in San Juan, Puerto Rico in March. Until then, the brand is using the Orlando and Santa Monica boutiques as labs to test the localized, digital concepts.
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