Another piece of Equipment’s revival has fallen into place with a new store on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, Calif.
The West Coast store gives Equipment a retail presence on both coasts after the brand opened a unit in New York’s SoHo neighborhood last month. It continues the momentum the brand has experienced under the stewardship of Dutch LLC creative director and chief executive officer Serge Azria, who relaunched Equipment three years ago with a two-pocket silk shirt and has been strategically widening its scope.
The brand was created in 1976 by Christian Restoin and at one point had as many as 14 stores, the last of which closed in 1998, according to Azria. At the moment, Azria isn’t in any rush to replicate Equipment’s past retail expanse and has no immediate plans for more stores. He does envision that eventually the brand could have locations in the world’s fashion capitals such as Paris, London and Tokyo.
“I am not going to open 100 stores everywhere,” he said. “This to me is an image thing to show the world what Equipment is and what it is going to be.”
The Melrose Place store leaves no doubt that what Equipment is centers on shirting. There are at least 150 shirts in the store, mostly presented on racks in a myriad of colors and styles. There are 25 white styles alone showcased in the window. It took Azria about a year to perfect the Signature two-pocket shirt that Equipment introduced in 2010, and that style, available in 53 shades, now accounts for 60 percent of the brand’s sales.
The store, which carries merchandise priced from $158 to $438, also shows Equipment’s evolution beyond its Signature style. There are 15 shirt bodies sold in the store, including T-shirt and one-pocket varieties, as well as cashmere items that were introduced for fall last year. Azria expects to add a blazer to Equipment’s repertoire in fall 2013, and sunglasses, footwear and watches are on the to-do list, too.
Working with Paul Bennett Architects, Azria was insistent the store design should not overshadow the clothes. “The concept is modern and kind of cold because there are so many colors in the collection,” said Azria. “I wanted something almost like an art gallery.” The store even has an art wall where currently a Retna piece owned by Azria hangs. Art will rotate and next up will likely be images from Equipment’s spring ad campaign with Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart of The Kills.
Painted in gray and white, the store contains a few elements inspired by Equipment’s former stores, notably lighting arranged in parallel lines along the ceiling and drawers housing extra inventory on the floor, which originally enabled Equipment to open stores with tiny footprints. “Out of 600 square feet, they were doing 2.3 million euros a year,” said Azria. “I think I am going to beat that.”
In the SoHo store, he elaborated, “The results so far are over the projections about 20 percent every single week.”
With 1,000 square feet of selling space, the Melrose Place store’s retail floor is slightly smaller than the 1,200-square-foot SoHo unit. The Melrose Place store has an additional 500 square feet in the back that’s a dedicated press area with some 100 shirts on display from Equipment’s archives. Every three months or so, different shirts from Azria’s stockpile of vintage Equipment shirts — he has roughly 1,600 —will be placed in the press area.
In addition to its own revival, Equipment is taking part in the revival of Melrose Place. With the recent openings of Isabel Marant and Joe’s, and the upcoming openings of L’Agence and a home-focused store from Bottega Veneta, action on the street has been heating up following several years of little movement. “Melrose Place is one of the most charming and beautiful places in L.A., and I think it is starting to pick up,” said Azria.
His approach to Equipment — not to mention his two other brands, Joie and Current/Elliott — was given a stamp of approval last month by TA Associates, which purchased a 60 percent stake in Vernon, Calif.-based Dutch LLC. It’s obvious what the Boston private equity firm liked in Equipment. Azria said the brand’s business doubled last year and, in the first quarter of this year, Equipment is already performing 30 to 40 percent above expectations. The brand is distributed to 1,200 retail accounts in 65 countries.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia