Elaine Kim has kept a steady hand carefully crafting her namesake business for the past eight years and is now positioned to branch out and expand.
The designer and retail veteran — whose résumé includes running the Ecru boutiques and founding women’s contemporary line Product, which later delved into its own retail — recently quadrupled the size of her West Third Street store in Los Angeles, taking over the shop next door and adding a small outdoor patio that will accommodate what’s been slowly evolving into a concept store housing not just her line but other brands and new categories.
Kim said she’s developed a devoted following who come to her for her minimalist pieces, well suited for travelers who need functional, stylish clothing with a hint of an edge in the way of a marble print slip silk dress, lace blazer with leather lapels or denim culottes. That growth in her clientele has also come with a steady rise in out-of-towners and tourists who visit her shop and the rest of Third Street, which Kim said has maintained its authentic, neighborhood quality.
“I felt that this street would support my expansion,” she said. “It’s an amazingly walkable, interesting, intimate kind of shopping.”
More space means more room for the introduction of jeans, T-shirts, sleepwear, handbags, shoes, scarves, giftable items, books and decorative objects into the store.
“We just want to do a very carefully curated collection of lifestyle items,” Kim said. “We don’t profess to do anything commercial; it’s very specific and clean.”
The store before its expansion was roughly 90 percent of Kim’s own label but with more space, the store’s product mix will likely grow to be about 50 percent from outside lines. She’s carrying about a dozen other brands, including Strom jeans, Capsule Parfums, Luque handbags and shoes from Gray Matters.
“I’m very interested in local artisans, local designers. Also, the flip side is other designers in cities that we might discover, so the thread is a common aesthetic and a dedication to the artisanal production,” Kim said of how she selects what lines to work with.
The Elaine Kim web site is also expected to expand to include offerings from the other lines.
Kim said she’s also considering additional doors in the coming years outside Third Street, which she said will always remain the flagship.
“I’m very interested in opening in a few select, key urban locations,” Kim said. “I’m actively looking because I do want to expand and scale my company, building my community with like-minded people.”