Located at 806 East Third Street in L.A.’s Arts District, the industrial-chic Apolis Print Shop offers 10-minute customization of the brand’s reusable jute Fair Trade bags, and a station equipped with paint easels and iPads for kids to join the design process. There’s also a jute garden to connect customers to the natural materials behind the bags.
The store is located in the former location of the brand’s men’s wear flagship, a pioneer in the downtown Arts District neighborhood where Dover Street Market and Phillip Lim have since opened stores.
It represents a brand pivot for brothers Raan and Shea Parton, who launched Apolis in 2004 with workwear-inspired men’s wear basics, including the indigo boiled wool chore jackets loved by Chris Pine, Leonardo DiCaprio and others that helped to define L.A. as a creative hub for relaxed men’s wear in the late 2010s.
But in the long run, it’s the bags, launched in 2011, that were driving growth for the brand with the motto “advocacy through industry,” which has been dedicated to responsible manufacturing since Day One, partnering with factories in Uganda, Peru and locally in L.A. The bags are made in Bangladesh, where they have provided years of Fair Trade-certified wages for women workers, said Raan Parton.
“The bags have really taken off for the brand and check all the boxes of job creation and promoting a sustainable consumer option for a category,” he said of the decision to refocus Apolis. “I think we are in an era of brands that service culture and certain categories have a unique ability to take on a life of their own. We will have shipped 700,000 units of the style by the end of this year. We never imagined seeing this kind of scale within an artisan production infrastructure, so it has required everything we have from resources and people to steward the growth.”
At its height, the men’s wear was sold at more than 100 independent retailers worldwide, in addition to the brand’s flagships in L.A. and New York. Raan didn’t rule out relaunching apparel at some point.
“The impact that we have seen in the communities we work with is something we only wished would happen one day. Thus, we have taken the opportunity to refocus on what and how we create product with excellence. I think it is possible that clothing could be part of that equation in the future, but for the time being, we are building an incredible foundation that all future projects will evolve from.”
Raan and his wife, Lindsay Parton, also run Alchemy Works, a multilabel boutique with outposts in L.A.’s Arts District, Newport, Calif.’s Lido Marina and Denver’s Free Market shopping centers.
Opened in the spring, Free Market is a 11,000-square-foot space in downtown Denver’s Dairy Block district that features several retailers and eateries under one roof, including Clare Vivier and Beautycounter. It will be followed up by a 27,000-square-foot Free Market bowing at Playa Vista Runway in Los Angeles next year, with investment from the Parton family’s DJM Capital Partners, which recently added Hollywood & Highland shopping center to its growing Southern California retail property portfolio.