Taubman’s Beverly Center in Los Angeles is opening Emerge in Color, a luxury fashion boutique that will exclusively sell products created by Black designers and Black-owned fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands from across the country.
The specially designed space will be located on level seven near YSL and Ferragamo, along the mall’s luxury row, and will be open from June 17 to July 23.
Emerge in Color was conceived by Taubman vice president of specialty leasing Lori McGhee-Curtis to expand retail opportunities for Black businesses. With $1.7 trillion in Black spending power in the U.S., less than 10 percent of fashion and accessory brands are Black-owned and less than 1 percent of Black-owned brands are carried in American retailers, according to Taubman.
The brands are being curated by two players in the digital fashion space: Tori Nichel, New York-based founder of the online retail platform Maison Black, which has popped up at Shinola in Detroit and GSTQ in New York, and Frenchye Bush Harris who created The Black Fashion Movement in 2020 as a grassroots social media campaign to promote Black-owned brands online and eventually via in-person luxury shopping experiences at the Galleria Dallas among other properties.
More than 50 brands will be sold in the store, including the Kevan Hall, In Earnest by Byron Lars and S. McGee apparel collections, Salone Monet footwear, Tribal Eyes eyewear and Jam & Rico jewelry. There also will be a number of events surrounding the five week pop-up, such as a June 19 panel discussion about Black spending power, a July 3 Crown Act Day beauty panel, and a shopping event with L.A. designer Hall, a founder of The Black Design Collective.
McGhee-Curtis started the Emerge concept as a weekend pop-up at Twelve Oaks Mall in Detroit as a way to support local entrepreneurs during COVID-19. Through its success, she realized the concept could go bigger, and be a platform for Black designers. After a search for curators, she landed on Nichel and Harris, who happened to know each other.
“It’s going to be a place for discovery. Shoppers are going to be starstruck by a beautiful caftan by Kevan Hall, and meander through to see a coffee-table book by Marcellas Reynolds, and may actually meet him at an event. They will see some wonderful pieces from Undra Celeste New York’s capsule and if they are looking for a great pump that matches their beautiful melanin skin tone, they will be able to buy Salone Monet.…And then they might see a plant they like and wonder if they can buy it. And you can! We did a partnership with a wonderful local woman Tansy, who is providing the plants…so the idea is to make as much of it shoppable as possible,” Nichel added.
“One of the things in our mission is to solve find-ability, so this was the perfect marriage with us being 100 percent digital to have a physical space to support emerging, established and unknown designers who need a stepping stone to grow in the retail environment and gain exposure with other retailers and even potential manufacturers,” said Nichel.
“It’s important to support these brands for their survival and their survival means that money trickles into our community and our community can start to look different,” said Harris.
The curators also pointed to the value of designers meeting consumers. “It’s very affirming…it creates a sense of pride,” said Harris.
“For so long as designers, we’ve been the only one in the studio. To see each other is so magical…you just no longer feel alone,” Nichel added. “It’s customer facing, plus the Black designer community getting to know one another.”
If the concept is successful, McGhee-Curtis hopes to bring it back during the holidays and maybe expand it to other Taubman properties.
She chose L.A. first because of the number of Black designers in the market, she said. “At the Beverly Center, we are right there in the heart of it and I felt like it would be well received. At some point we may look at Short Hills, which is right outside of New York.
“These designers are our future retailers. Coming out of COVID[-19], store closures, bankruptcies, this is something new and fresh. We’re starting to work with a number of direct to consumer brands coming to our shopping centers. And it’s also a great time because we are also going to be celebrating Juneteenth.”
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