LOS ANGELES — Rising rents pushed Robertson Boulevard boutiques Madison and Diavolina to depart the trendy retail corridor here and move to neighboring 3rd Street, where the adjoining contemporary stores opened Monday.

This story first appeared in the April 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The decision by the sister stores, both owned by Mark and Emily Goldstein, is another chapter in the evolution of Robertson from primarily independent boutiques to global brands.

After months of negotiations, “my rent tripled in February 2009, and I knew my [sales] volume would have to go up really substantially to justify that high rent,” Mark Goldstein said. “This being a recession, things didn’t go up, they went down.”

Other stores, including American Apparel, also have moved from the two-block stretch because of rents and an increasingly corporate character on the street, where Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana’s D&G concept have opened flagships, joining boutiques such as Kitson and Lisa Kline.

Madison was among the brands that pioneered Robertson, launching 13 years ago. Goldstein bought Diavolina, which once had locations on Beverly and La Brea Boulevards, about five years ago and moved to Robertson.

The new 7,000-square-foot structure for the stores features modern aesthetics, a long white facade with large glass display windows and a 20-space parking lot. The boutiques are connected by an interior walkway.

The Madison portion of the store has floors of poured black concrete and wrought-iron racks, with exposed beams and joists along the ceiling. Diavolina’s interior has a signature leopard carpet with white and gold fixtures and raspberry-colored accents.

Rents along Robertson were as high as $25 a square foot a month last year, and now range from $12 to $17 a square foot. But right around the corner on 3rd Street, considered a less desirable location, rents are in the $4- to $6-a-square-foot range.

Madison’s contemporary-centered selection includes lines like Current/Elliott, Stella McCartney and Costume National. The store’s selection includes pieces such as Marc by Marc Jacobs handbags for about $400, jeans from Work Denim for about $180 and Sunner striped shirtdresses for about $260.

There are also boutiques in Brentwood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Westlake. Goldstein said he expects 3rd Street to be the top sales location.

Diavolina is focused primarily on footwear, with a wide range of shoes, including $565 gladiator-style Givenchy stilettos and Dolce Vita sandals for about $100, along with jewelry like thin gold teardrop hoops from Hawaii-based Hula Hoops for $105 and perfume oils like Zuzuz Petals, retailing for $48.

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