LOS ANGELES — Contemporary British retailer Ted Baker London has opened its first Los Angeles outpost, a 3,000-square-foot space with merchandise specially picked for the site.
“I think we would have preferred L.A. earlier, but it was [a question of] geography and finding the right location,” company chief executive officer Ray Kelvin said in an interview. “We know L.A. is a great fashion city and Ted needs to be the there.”
The bi-level store on Robertson Boulevard that opened Wednesday is next to MAC cosmetics and a couple of doors down from The Ivy, the popular celeb eatery. It carries both the women’s and men’s collections, and marks the company’s sixth U.S. store, with others in San Francisco, San Jose and Las Vegas, as well as New York and Miami.
Kelvin is known as “the closest man to Ted,” who, of course, doesn’t exist, although Kelvin and the rest of the Baker team affectionately refer to him and his influence on the company. Ted Baker launched in 1988 as a men’s shirt specialist at its first store in Glasgow.
Customers are getting what the company calls “The Best in Show” pieces. The items have been specifically chosen only for the Los Angeles store, and are marked by Best in Show ribbons. Beaded and bejewled halters range from $75 to $100. Pants are about $160 to $200 with jackets at $400, the most expensive pieces in the collection.
“I’ve edited from all of our collections and products and specially picked the ‘Best in Show’ products to fit L.A. and the Robertson customer” Kelvin said. “They are less casual, more dressy, more upscale quirky and colorful.”
In fact, quirky and colorful describes not only the clothes but the store, which couples a Best in Show dog show theme with a touch of that Sixties Austin Powers vibe. Gargantuan gilded frame paintings of stately show dogs hang above gilded armchairs covered in pony skin along with swank crystal chandeliers, glass pendant lamps and sparkly gold carpet on the second floor.
The dog theme is also perfect for the Robertson client who can frequently be sighted shopping with pooch in tow. Ted Baker is furthering the theme in a partnership with the Best Friends dog rescue organization. Twenty percent of sales from the opening party on Thursday will go to the charity, and future events will also have tie-ins with the organization, the company said. “Adoptable dogs were also on site at Wednesday’s soft opening as well, and will be available on Saturday and next Thursday’s party for customers to put in applications to adopt.
The store is also hoping to court celebrities — its providing clothes for the last episode of HBO’s “Six Feet Under” — as well as canines and has hired Sara Connolly, formerly from John Varvatos and Hugo Boss, into its studio services manager position.
The store is part of a larger U.S. rollout that will include 20 to 30 locations, said Kelvin, adding that the company doesn’t have “a formulated rollout.”
Kelvin said he expects this location to do well, but in keeping with “Ted’s” wishes would not elaborate. “Ted is old-fashioned and doesn’t talk money,” he said.
Brand communications director Craig Smith, is less old-fashioned than “Ted” and said that first-day numbers for the store here were comparable with the openings of the San Francisco and Las Vegas stores.
“It will be a good performing store, but I don’t think it will give us the yield of Vegas, which is more of a captive audience,” Smith said. “This will be much more organic.”