After nearly two decades in business, Citizens of Humanity is taking the plunge into retail. But rather than selecting a space in its hometown of Los Angeles, it instead looked east and snagged a space in Aspen, Colo.
The decision to open in Aspen “ties to the DNA of the brand,” according to chief executive officer Amy Williams. “It’s not at all an obvious location,” she added, but the family of creative director of branding, Jared Freedman, who is also a part owner of the privately held brand, owns property there and travels back and forth regularly. In addition, the city is “grounded in American heritage and the outdoors,” which is similar to “how we think about our brand,” she said. It attracts both domestic and international visitors in ski season and during the summer who are seeking to experience the natural beauty of the outdoors, as well as the fine restaurants and shopping.
The 900-square-foot store at 520 East Hyman Avenue will be called Humanity and will be located a block from the Aspen Art Museum.
Williams said Citizens waited until now to open a store because, for the past several years, it has been working to expand its brand and assortment. “We had work to do expanding the collection and adding new categories,” she said. “We were able to do that successfully,” so the timing was right to finally open a store.
Although denim still represents 85 percent of Citizen’s business, the brand also offers T-shirts, hoodies, leather goods, woven shirts, loungewear and other products and will be launching sweaters in the fall of 2022, she said.
The Aspen store will carry an edited assortment of Citizens’ products alongside a rotating number of third-party brands in wellness, home, beauty and accessories intended to complement the core assortment. “It’ll be a modern-day mercantile,” she said. “We’ll also highlight other brands and I think people will be surprised by the mix.”
For the opening, that will include Dorchester Industries pottery, Mizuno ceramics, Rose Gallery art, Jessica McCormack jewelry, Jud knitwear, Blaze Milano blazers, Live the Process activewear, Natureofthings body care, Saya skin care and as Adam Wade Wagner handbags.
In addition, the store will feature the launch of an ongoing Humanity Fleece Collection produced in collaboration with artist duo the Haas Brothers. The first iteration will be Aspen-themed and is inspired by the souvenirs picked up on a vacation. The assortment will include unisex hoodies and sweatpants with exclusive graphics from the artists.
Freedman said: “We wanted to create this idea of a modern general store — even though Aspen has become an international destination, it is historically a small town still at its core — in that you can find an array of specialty products from jewelry to homewares to beauty, mixed in with our denim. General stores by nature, have a local, intimate feel and are not overly designed. We wanted to create an inviting, clean space that’s adaptable and beautifully showcases what’s inside.”
The furniture in the store is being designed by Theaster Gates, an artist and the founder of Dorchester Industries, whose specialty is the reimaging and preservation of materials that would otherwise be discarded. For the Humanity store, the company used Aspen wood for the shelves and exposed polished chrome for the metal work, which is intended to pay homage to Aspen as a silver mining town in the 1800s.
The store will also offer the latest issue of the brand’s editorial print publication, Humanity Magazine, where artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson will offer up a survey of her work, featuring interviews with her close family and friends including Daniel Kaluuya, Mary McCartney and husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Williams said that after the store opens — currently slated for Dec. 22 — there will be a bevy of events including trunk shows, wellness symposiums, artist showings and others throughout the year.
“Aspen has always been thought of as a winter/ski destination,” she said. “But people are spending more time in luxury U.S. locations these days and the summer months have become more popular.”
There are no immediate plans to open more Citizens stores, but it’s definitely on her radar.
“We’re starting to think about where and when,” she said. “But they would be few and very special with a curated assortment.” She said the search is also not limited to the U.S. and the company is starting to look internationally as well. “But that’s still in the planning stages,” she said.