Cynthia Rowley’s probably been surfing for some 15 years.
“But,” the designer said, with heavy emphasis, “I always say I’m a way better designer than a surfer. I love designing everything and I’m passionate and obsessed with the sport and spend hours and hours in the water chasing waves.…I’m pretty much a daredevil.”
It’s that time in the water that’s helped Rowley craft an authentic point of view when it comes to infusing the surf culture into her designs and, now, the stream of steady pop-ups her company is opening. On that latter point, that includes the upcoming grand opening Saturday of a 1,175-square-foot store at the Malibu Lumber Yard. Malibu is set to be followed up by a Newport Beach, Calif., store at the Lido Marina development in Orange County.
The store, as is the case for Rowley’s temporary shop concepts she dubs Nomadic Retail, will also carry Martone Bikes, knitwear from Lingua Franca and Eir NYC. There will also be a showcase of female surfboard shapers highlighted in the stores.
Malibu, along with the rest of Rowley’s retail locations, will also include the men’s capsule collaboration with surfer Garrett McNamara, which launched exclusively last month on Farfetch.
“Malibu is the perfect sister [location] to our Montauk store that’s been so successful for us for a long time and having surf be so much a part of our brand and of the lifestyle in Malibu, it seemed like a perfect fit,” Rowley said. “I have this idea of endless summer that is the strategy for a lot of our pop-ups that we’re doing, or this idea of Nomadic Retail that we’re bringing to all different parts of the country.”
Elsewhere on the West Coast, the company last year did a temporary stint at the Platform project in Culver City, Calif.
“All of our stores that we’ve been opening in the last two months are almost like tastings,” Rowley said of how the company looks at retail. “If we can stay and if we’re enjoying it and it’s working, we’ll stay.”
The designer confirmed the company is working on a permanent store in Los Angeles with more details to come, pointing out the retail strategy is a combination of both pop-up and permanent spaces.
“A lot of it is based on our e-commerce data,” Rowley said of how locations are selected. “We have the strongest audience in New York and California. We have a big audience there so we’re trying to give people access.”
It’s the brand’s strength in those two markets that drove the creation of the “CaliYork” line of product on T-shirts, sweatshirts, totes and hats.
“I was thinking a lot about California and how New York and California meet in a weird way,” Rowley said. “They’re so similar in so many lifestyle ways.”