Proud of being a California girl, Heidi Merrick is putting a spotlight on the West Coast lifestyle in her new flagship.
Located a block from Los Angeles’ Fashion District, around the corner from the downtown outposts of Acne Studio and A.P.C., Merrick’s 1,500-square-foot boutique blends the beach vibe with the region’s manufacturing might through photos of her favorite surf breaks stretching between Malibu and Carpinteria, an art installation that involves scattering white sand on the floor and a nook where she will work on her designs, which are all made in her nearby studio.
“I wanted to have a store a California girl would have,” she said during a preview of the space, called H. Merrick of California, which previously housed a video store and is now bathed in plenty of light reflecting off the white walls and concrete floors embedded with what looks like tiny, flat rocks tinted red and gray.
Merrick is not your average California-based designer. She’s the daughter of Al and Terry Merrick, the revered surfboard shaper and his wife who crafted boards and clothes by hand for their Central Coast shop called Channel Islands Surfboards. Her brother, Britt Merrick, who grew up working in the store with her, now shapes boards for top pro riders such as Dane Reynolds.
Reflecting on the retail lessons learned from her family’s business, Merrick said, “it’s really true to who we were as people.” She gained her own insight on the retail market this past summer, when she opened her studio as a store on Friday afternoons with a guitarist strumming mellow tunes while women shopped. In the fall, she pulled back her wholesale business, limiting distribution to only a third of her collection. The rest is exclusive to her e-commerce site and the new store.
“I just thought it was time to have the full expression of the collection, being able to say what I want to say without an edit,” she said. Moreover, extricating herself from the recurring difficulties of the wholesale business as other L.A. brands like CLC by Corey Lynn Calter and Skingraft have allowed her freedom in managing her company and dealing directly with consumers.
“I wanted to invigorate myself and do what I do and not feel the grind. I want to enjoy my art and not hand off the best part. I want to participate.”
Once her customers step over the Art Deco-inspired alcove floor painted by Londubh Studio on the Nov. 3 opening, they walk straight into Joséphine Wister Faure’s sand and rock installation titled “The Source.” Sharon Montrose’s photos of surf breaks line the walls behind the brass garment racks on which her casually refined clothes hang. One side of the store displays the $1,850 surfboards that were made by her brother and tinted black, blush pink, gold and nude to match the $500 repurposed wool coats, $325 silk chiffon blouses and $125 striped T-shirts.
By naming her store H. Merrick rather than her full name, Merrick opens up an avenue into the men’s market and a bigger home collection. She foresees the introduction of boardshorts and a few key pieces for men next summer. Complementing the $95 sequin pillows that she’s been selling, $3,200 vegetable-dyed wool rugs from Morocco, $625 black rattan chairs and $4,400 teak platform beds designed by Bernard Brucha also fill the store.
In the very back, the wall is plastered with images of Kate Moss as a punk princess, Truman Capote dancing with Marilyn Monroe and other muses from magazines that Merrick began hoarding in the Nineties. Underneath is a large table from which the designer will do what she loves.
“I’ll work down here a few hours a week and have alteration hours. I plan to do most of the sampling down here and the products upstairs,” she said. “I really wanted to show that you can make ready-to-wear in California.”