Notes taken: The Row, Los Angeles flagship
Field notes from a visit to the brand's physical store in Hollywood.
8440 Melrose Pl, Los Angeles, 2022 —The Row flagship
Hi! Following up on the last post in the series, these are notes from a field expedition to The Row flagship in a journaling format.
The Row is the fashion brand established by sisters Mary-kate and Ashley Olsen in 2006. In 2014, The Row opened the store I visited in Los Angeles, its first flagship. Here is the bio available on their website:
"Focusing on exceptional fabrics, impeccable details, and precise tailoring, the house combines a timeless perspective with subtle attitudes which form an irreverent classic signature. The Row’s collections also explore the strength of simplistic shapes that speak to discretion and are based on uncompromising quality."
The brand was named after Savile Row street in London. It is a true extract of the essence of the brand, for two reasons: the honored street has built its reputation on bespoke and impeccable tailoring, where each suit is made to fit, made to order. The second is that it does not reference the name of the famous sisters, honoring the proposal of discretion and that the products speak for themselves.
That's what you read about the brand, but I would add the fact that Row is such a common word that it almost gets in the way of search engines. You can search for The Row in New York, London, or Los Angeles and you get all sorts of results with Row before the clothing brand, from restaurant to spa, to anything else. I have the impression that this is intentional, as it creates a speakeasy-like search, where the word-of-mouth filter takes on a more relevant role (the insider's knowledge). It's there, but not in your face.
If you are not very familiar with The Row’s proposal, a synthetic example is the case of the brand’s first ad in US Vogue, which was restricted to the logo and a few words in a double spread — no photos, illustrations, nothing. Worthy of a secret club/cult that the reader hasn't exactly been invited to.
Before talking about the visit, I invite you to recreate the space in your mind, with some notes of the senses:
Sight: a living room curated to obsession, the home of an interior designer influenced by the tropics.
Smell: sandalwood and greenish smell, an evergreen summer.
Sound: of the wind that gently sways the green vegetation, but with edges burned by the heat.
Touch: marble in a soft finish, burnt cement, wood, metals in warm tones, fresh water, and heat from the sun.
Taste: the sight made you a little thirsty, and hungry for juicy fruit.
Keywords: quiet eccentricity, sleek, clean, easy, rich.
Tip: Each month, The Row publishes a new playlist that they play in the stores (check their profile here).
The first time I visited The Row was earlier this year. Located in the Melrose Ave region, it is an area of great concentration of flagships, where brands tend to invest even more to offer outstanding experiences to their customers. The streets are very tree-lined and quiet, with buildings that do not pass one pavement.
Like its neighbors, The Row store does not follow a conventional store format, resembling the layout of a house, or a showroom; It is located in a shared building, and the entrance is at the back, after a corridor. There is no visible display outside. It is not so obvious to find the door, decorated with a dainty monogram on the handle. Honestly, I only found the right door after talking to one of several security guards.
When you enter, the room is relatively small and at a glance, you can see it entirely. It is indeed a distinctively beautiful store. The layout and decoration reinforce the idea of private space, a mix of living room and gallery.
The open space of the pool breaks the closed environment that is expected of a traditional store, thus passing the idea less controlled in appearance, with a sexy and relaxed air. The opening of the glass doors provides a connection with the weather conditions and the perfumes that come from outside.
For several minutes, I was the only person strolling through the store. I was not greeted directly, even though they had sales associates apparently available. I felt like my presence was noticed, and allowed. Furthermore, I usually like to scroll freely, but I felt it lacked some kind of attention.
I continue my browsing from piece to piece, admiring every charming label and button. The dresses, blouses, skirts: all the most incredible materials that the touch can feel. It smells, tastes, and looks like savoir-faire, and wealth. The color palette of the products is consistently cool, with variations of whites, creams, and blacks. A certain coldness is counterbalanced by the choice of wood and leather furniture, with a simple and less geometric design.
Soon, two other customers entered, and the reception was completely different: they were immediately welcomed, invited to the coffee table, and offered something to drink. I still had more I wanted to see, and I wasn't leaving.
My main interest was the assortment of jewelry and scents presented in gallery-like displays. The Row also houses creations by other invited brands and artists, which mostly feature exclusive pieces for the space, such as jewelry and sculptures by Brazilian Ana Khouri (I'm a crazy fan and might make a Notes Taken at some point).
Among the main learning points, the obsession and high aesthetic dissent that is driving the brand are obvious. Everything makes sense. It's a synergy: the environment and the items for sale mutually benefit and gain value from this coexistence.
On the other hand, the service with sour pretentious notes definitely diminished the pleasure of the visit, and I'm sure it didn't help the brand at all either. I was anonymous/ignored from entry to exit, leaving no reasons for my interest or potential as a client (so, zero learning for them). Pretentiousness is always bad, I stress. That considering I'm a tall white woman with all related privileges, and an immigrant for long enough to be desensitized about most suspicious looks. Yet, I felt slightly self-conscious about the overly attentive gaze of the store employees (meaning that the inventory protection radar was on).
The products themselves and the guests have a sharp personality and yet belong to the same universe. I'll have to repeat myself, but the clothes' materials, cuts, and fittings were out of this world, arranged on racks and shelves like a visual orchestra. A dream closet.
Finally, if you want to sell something special, you must serve an equally special tea to your client. That's how you inform and explore all this investment.
As the visit was made during business hours, I didn't take as many photos out of respect for the other buyers. The project is signed by Montalba Architects, and you can check out the space in the video here, and the complete project here.
When leaving The Row, you are not far from other very interesting stores like Rachel Comey, Bode, Forte Forte, Clare V., Balmain, Bottega Veneta, Monique Lhuillier, and so on.
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