Maybe you have heard of Guillermo Andrade, maybe you haven't. But you've probably heard of his store, Los Angeles' 424 on Fairfax, which has become well-known for its revolving schedule of installations and brand launches featuring favorites like Fear of God. We Are The Market, Capsule's blog, caught up with Andrade to talk about authenticity in retail and changing the rules of an industry that has been archaic for too long.
Andrade talks about how stores all over the world are very similar and how the shopping experience suffers, partly because stores all over the world get the same items at the same time thanks to a strict adherence to the fashion calendar. 424 wants to change that:
For the bigger brands that follow their production calendar and follow the fashion calendar, it works. It’s amazing. It works for them. But for a brand like 424, it’s not an option. I have very little interest in following that calendar, because it doesn’t suit my brand. It’s not honest to where I am and where the growth of my business is. I can’t do that. In order to deliver to a hundred accounts, and have them all be top tier accounts, and to make sure everyone gets something special, and everyone knows what the brand is – and every employee on that floor is going to be able to tell you about that brand – it’s an unbelievable amount of work.
That means making considered selections for the store and making sure sales people are on the same page, he says, speaking from personal experience:
I walked into a store here in LA – in LA, mind you, where we launched Fear of God in my shop maybe a year and a half ago, before it was ever in any stores. I walked into another store here that’s had Fear of God for a couple seasons, and I asked the guy, “Hey, this is a cool brand. What is it? Can you tell me about it?” And it was all just a very bogus sales pitch that you get from any bogus salesperson. It’s such a big disconnect between what is actually happening and “hey, just buy this and get the fuck out.” ... I think boutiques like mine are a solution to that. Or at least, that’s what I want it to be. [At 424], I’m coming from a place of, “This is what we’re doing. If you have any questions about the brand, we’re going to talk your ear off.” We care about it as much as the designers do – sometimes more.