Nevena Borissova has quietly parted ways with the concept shop she conceived with Tom Dixon at the Platform project in Culver City as the stylist and founder of the high-end Curve boutique pivots to keep pace with the changing retail landscape.
The retailer left the open-air center developed by the full-service real estate firm Runyon Group after less than a year in operation. Dixon’s home products will remain with Runyon Group, which told WWD last month that a pop-up fashion tenant is expected at the furniture store.
Borissova said it wasn’t the right time for her brand to be at the young center, which counts the recently opened Bird, Janessa Leone, Freda Salvador, Aesop, Magasin and Poketo as permanent fixtures, along with a cast of pop-ups that includes Catbird and Pop & Suki.
“We tried to make it work; the sales [were] not really happening,” Borissova said of the Culver City store. “I think with home, it’s a little bit different because the merchandise doesn’t get old. With clothing, it’s just [on] a whole different level. I just found high-end fashion was not even necessary [at the project].”
The concept, called The Shop Curve x Tom Dixon, opened in the fall to much buzz after three years in development. The 7,000-square-foot space aimed to be a home, lifestyle and fashion space that is also Dixon’s first U.S. outpost. However, Curve — with its mix of product from Roksanda, J.W. Anderson, Raquel Allegra, Ann Demeulemeester, Acne and Balmain — didn’t seem to mesh with the direction of the center’s leasing strategy.
“It’s going to take a long time to build a clientele to go there to shop high-end,” Borissova noted. “A lot of people go in thinking that all it takes is to open a beautiful place, but there’s a lot of marketing that goes into it. I very quickly saw the writing on the wall.”
Still, Platform is trying its hand again with a multibrand boutique in Bird, which bowed last month in a 5,000-square-foot space selling Rachel Comey, Raquel Allegra, Marni and APC, among other designers.
For Borissova and her Curve concept, it’s the original store on Robertson Boulevard that will celebrate 20 years in 2018, that remains her top-performing door.
“I do think people just have an emotional connection to the place,” Borissova said of Robertson.
Curve also has stores in Malibu, San Francisco and Miami Beach along with two New York doors, in Manhattan and Sag Harbor.
Borissova said she plans to close Miami and is considering possible tie-ins with hotels in a bid to stay in step with how consumers shop. There’s also the prospects of pop-ups or seasonal spaces.
“I want to do something more interesting in Miami now,” she said. “I just think differently about how people consume and how retail happens. In this kind of satellite location, I don’t think I need something so archaic like brick-and-mortar.”
In Los Angeles, Curve recently took the 700-square-foot space next door to its Robertson Boulevard store as part of an expansion that will include what Borissova said would be a “massive remodel.” However, before that happens, she has plans for a one-month pop-up with Rodarte in which she’ll work with Kate and Laura Mulleavy on a second collaboration. She worked with the Mulleavy sisters on the first when Curve opened at the Platform store and “that did extremely well because I was trying to drive traffic to Culver City and, sure, they came and bought.”
The change that’s happened across the retail landscape has been dramatic in the 20 years since Curve bowed.
“I think the golden days of on-the-ground retail are gone,” Borissova said. “It’s interesting that all these new developers have ideas that retail is going to happen everywhere, but not at the level that I’m used to and not with the high-end stuff.”
Certainly customers have changed, forcing retailers to shift their business strategies. Still, the one winning constant, the retailer said, remains the merchant who can pull together a coveted product mix.
“The loyalty’s out the door with how fast people can get stuff,” Borissova said. “The multibranded stores on the ground are like showrooms and everyone online is just a fulfillment center to a certain extent, but a lot of times they [the digital businesses] get the sale. And the customer is left quite confused to a point where people are shopping less. They don’t even like fashion anymore. It’s a pain. Too many voices out there and not enough trends. The only thing that’s the same [comparing] 20 years ago and today is the relevancy. [Customers] still look at you if you’re relevant and you know how to make an outfit.”
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