The 30-acre Los Angeles Arts District project Row DTLA is taking a slightly different tack to the idea of pop-ups.
Come holiday, Runyon Group, the real estate firm charged with the downtown project’s retail leasing, will host some seven different online brands, ranging from apparel to jewelry and illustrations for pop-ups running from Nov. 1 through to the end of the year.
The seven companies involved are Swedish watch brand Daniel Wellington, San Francisco women’s apparel company Modern Citizen and New York luggage line Away Travel—The Concept Store, along with a handful of Los Angeles brands in fine jewelry from Vrai & Oro, fashion illustrations by The Cartorialist, Bikyni swimwear and leather-goods maker This Is Ground.
Row DTLA, on the site of the former Southern Pacific Railroad headquarters, is a behemoth spread across multiple buildings purchased by New York real estate investment firm Atlas Capital Group and Square Mile Capital Management in 2014 for a reported $357 million. The site currently includes the headquarters and factory of American Apparel. Upon completion, it is expected to usher in a new wave of creatives for both the office and retail components. It’s slated for some 100 stores, 15 restaurants and more than 1 million square feet of office space.
“We’re pretty excited about downtown. We work here so we feel the momentum that’s happening right now,” said Bikyni founder Jude Al-Khalil. “I think we always say downtown is very much a part of our DNA. Our office is here. Our factory is here. So there’s that element that we like [about the project]. I also think that what they’re trying to build is even more exciting. They’re curating great brands and I really like how they seem to be supportive about bringing online brands offline.”
Bikyni’s space, totaling 1,400 square feet, has had experience with shops-in-shops after recently completing one at Madewell’s Miami Beach store earlier this year. Bricks-and-mortar is an opportunity to make the process of buying a swimsuit in real life easier, but also tackle the things that can’t be addressed online via features such as larger dressing rooms, events and potential partnerships with other brands, Al-Khalil pointed out.
“What we’re trying to do with the Row is reimagine the [swimsuit] shopping experience or bridge that gap,” she said.
For Modern Citizen, which sells women’s apparel and accessories along with home goods for its own brand and others, its 1,000-square-foot pop-up is a litmus test for bricks-and-mortar. The company currently operates a showroom space at its headquarters.
“For us, L.A. is actually our third-largest market online,” said founder Jess Lee. “We also really love the neighborhood too. It’s such a burgeoning neighborhood.”
The company, much like Bikyni, will also have events and plans to team with other brands in its store, which will carry the full range of merchandise it sells online.
All of the pop-ups will be located across two buildings off a street within the project named Market Row.
In June, it debuted the Smorgasburg food and flea market that’s held Sundays on the site of what operates as the produce market during the rest of the week. It has so far managed to inject a strong dose of crowds to the generally pedestrian-light area. The mammoth parking structure with free, two-hour parking — a rarity downtown — helps.
More recently it was confirmed Boston streetwear retailer Bodega would take up space at the Row, marking the first confirmed fashion business in an announcement that has helped set the tone for the project’s tenant mix.
Although the choice is not surprising given the leasing team charged with filling out the project’s retail is the Runyon Group, which has made a name for itself by putting hip and relevant brands into retail corridors and projects. The brokerage and developer’s work can be seen on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street and the more recently completed Platform project in Culver City, Calif., which it developed. It’s also a full-service brokerage, working with companies such as Los Angeles-based Reformation and Santa Monica retailer Planet Blue.