Aella has made its return to Larchmont Village this month for another pop-up as the digital brand continues to explore what it wants to be at retail.
The Los Angeles direct-to-consumer company, which sells staple wardrobe pieces around the idea of an everyday uniform for women, has opened a multibranded retail concept. The store will be open through April 30 and brings Aella back to Larchmont Village, where it had a 2015 holiday pop-up across the street from its new home.
“When we did our very short holiday pop-up there we had a significantly smaller product offering and also we have gone through a huge redevelopment process where we’ve really improved our product line and construction and fit,” said Aella founder Eunice Cho. “I feel like we’ve grown up a bit and the fact that we can come back is exciting.”
The 400-square-foot space places the company in a bustling retail scene that still retains the charm of a neighborhood shopping district even with national chains coming in. Around Aella are Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Chevalier’s Books, coffeehouse Go Get Em Tiger, ice creamery Salt & Straw, women’s accessories store CH Boutique, Bluemercury and an incoming MAC cosmetics.
“I hope it doesn’t become super chain-oriented business or corporate, but I think it’s going to start becoming a fashion and shopping destination,” Cho said.
The retail scene there is a fitting spot for the young brand, which is seeking to find its own firmer footing when it comes to next steps for its growth. Aella also has shops-in-shops at Bloomingdale’s stores in New York, Costa Mesa and San Francisco.
The Larchmont space will be a multibranded concept of sorts with not just Aella clothing but complementary categories in the digital-only space. Those companies are Kent Lingerie, which sells organic silk undergarments and Thelma Shoes. Makeup made from natural ingredients by One Over One will also be sold at the store.
“I definitely think that there’s no right way [of doing retail] and even just having your own individual pop-up stores that’s dedicated to your own brand is exciting, but we’re women’s wear and we don’t have other categories,” Cho said. “We thought it would be interesting to increase our merchandise offering by partnering with these other brands that have a similar viewpoint as us and I think it helps us tell our brand story as well. I think it’s valuable when we’re able to offer more product.”
The store, which will have an opening celebration Feb. 22, will be one of several pop-ups—including another slated for New York—for Aella this year as the company looks to the short-term doors as major marketing vehicles for the brand, with many of its customers shopping the site having found out about the company through a pop-up.
“In this day and age, that long-term lease can be onerous and as a small brand, it’s such a capital heavy investment,” Cho said. “It’s interesting because I think there’s a general disinterest in big department stores whose products aren’t really differentiated so I think that the problem those big retailers are suffering from has a lot do with oversaturation but also the product offering. Whereas, when you do a pop-up store getting together brands that are specific, you’re able to tell a unique story.”
While Cho hasn’t ruled out the idea of a permanent door, that’s not something she said the company has an interest in for the near-term.
“We’ll see,” she said. “You have to think really hard and your business has to be ready to do [a permanent door], whereas we know when we do these shorter engagements, they’re always really successful.”