By  on August 22, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Revolve is turning a corner.

The Cerritos, Calif.-based online retailer will open a 2,500-square-foot, gallery-style store on Saturday, Revolve’s first retail location since the company started more than five years ago.

The minimalist space, once a hair salon, will display art pieces along the walls — all for sale. The current installment is a series of square graphic-style paintings by artist MWM.

Michael Mente and Mike Karanikolas founded the Revolve online store in 2003; Los Angeles and surrounding cities account for about 8 percent of total sales, with 80 percent of revenues coming from the U.S. and 20 percent from abroad. Mente is projecting a 25 percent increase in sales this coming year.

“We could not sell one item in the store and we’d still be in good shape financially, this is more to show the world physically who we are,” said Mente. “We like the clean, minimal aesthetic. The idea is to keep the spotlight on the clothes.”

Revolve is on a popular stretch of Melrose Avenue that’s home to Theory, Nanette Lepore, and soon Vera Wang, though the company came very close to opening a brick-and-mortar location about three years ago on the boutique-rich stretch of Los Angeles’ Third Avenue. Mente said it made more sense to wait until business was strong enough that the store could host events and parties and function as a showpiece for the contemporary collections it carries. Collections the firm sells include L.A.M.B., Citizens of Humanity and Abaeté. Revolve has a five-year lease on the Melrose Avenue space, with a five-year extension clause.

The shop will carry about 10 percent of the 500-plus brands available on the Web site, offerings that will change every few weeks to keep in step with customer buying habits and new arrivals.

“It’s a little like curating a collection in an art gallery,” Mente said.

The site’s new “try-on” feature will allow local shoppers to request an online item be sent from the Cerritos warehouse to the store to sample the fit and style.

The shop, like the site, will continue to work with celebrity stylists such as Nicole Chavez and Eric Damon. Actress Scarlett Johansson wore two dresses from for recent “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” press interviews, but courting celebrity clientele, Mente said, is not Revolve’s goal.

“Other people have built their business around celebrity following and that’s great, but us trying to do the same thing wouldn’t make sense,” he said. “We welcome that element, and will service it as best we can, but we’re certainly not building our business around it.”

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