For Elyse Walker’s sweet 16, she’s opening a second outpost, some might say, finally.
The stylist, merchant and business owner in August bows a second store operating under her namesake at the Lido Marina Village project in Newport Beach, Calif.
The purveyor of all things stylish and cool is a major boon for the project, which has turned the heads of many for the cast of tenants its managed to snag thus far. Walker joins a project that will also be home to Nobu, Publica by Zinque, Alchemy Works: Harbor House with an Apolis outpost inside, Steven Alan, Jenni Kayne, Bailey44 and Clare V. It’s a highly thoughtful mix of doors for a project that stands out against Orange County’s more traditional shopping centers.
Walker ran a thorough site selection process, looking throughout the country for the right location.
“When I went to Newport, I describe it as kind of like when you met your boyfriend or your husband to be,” Walker said. “This is a community. This is like the Palisades. This is a place that I want to hang out.”
It’s also within driving distance from the Palisades store, making it easy for visits from Walker or one of her stylists.
She went all out on the details, starting with the size.
The Newport store will total 12,000 square feet, which compares with 6,500 square feet at the Pacific Palisades door that opened in 1999 with 800 square feet. It’s cavernous and resides in a former bank building.
More room means more opportunities to create shops-in-shops for brands. Designers that have signed on to be in the store include Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ann Demeulemeester, Stella McCartney, Gianvito Rossi, Manolo Blahnik, Zimmermann and Self-Portrait.
“This new store, we’re working really hard on just making it a social experience,” Walker said. “Fashion has changed in that if you know what you want, you’re just going to stay at home and click and shop and that has taken over a lot of retail sales. But it’s a great time for brick-and-mortar because people do want to go out. They just need more of an experience so stores need to be more than just nice sales associates and cool merchandise.”
The former bank inhabitant’s original vault will be used for an expanded jewelry offering. Art will also decorate the walls.
Details for a 500-square-foot, café-style eatery is currently in the works. There’s also consideration of including a mini salon to fill out the store experience.
Walker thinks there’s benefit in nearby resorts, such as the Montage in Laguna Beach or the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, that lend to a fuller experience for clients wanting to shop her store and the rest of the Lido project and then stay in Orange County.
“Shopping needs to be an experience. We’ve all known that people always shop and spend more when they’re on holiday. I think that shopping experience now even in the hometown has to feel more like a special experience because if it’s just that you need a new Current/Elliott shirt, you’re just going to go online and buy it.”
Elyse Walker is a significant grab for the project.
“I think she’s going to be a huge tone-setter,” said Linda Berman, chief marketing officer of the project’s developer DJM Capital Partners.
Elyse Walker had been part of early brainstorming sessions for DJM’s wish list of tenants.
“This is not a development. This is not a shopping center. This is not a tourist destination,” Berman said. “We always felt that if we could assemble and curate a group of customers that felt more like a street and engage retailers that don’t [typically] talk to developers that would eschew any kind of development. Elyse, in all the years she has had the ability to expand, she has not expanded, other than to increase the footprint at her location…and that was so appealing to us.”
As for whether there are more Elyse Walker boutiques on the horizon, Walker said she’s always looking but tempers that with the desire to make sure she gets it right in Newport Beach.
“I think if you’re growing brick-and-mortar, store number two is always the hardest because you’re leaving the mother ship,” she said. “Store three, four [and] five is easier because you’ve learned how to manage.”