From my side of the phone, it sounds like John Elliott is already at home in New York City. A friend passing by the designer’s latest flagship located at 270 Lafayette St. in SoHo briefly distracts Elliott during the conversation. The exchange sounds congratulatory, with Elliott thanking the individual and inviting them back later.
The community that Elliott has already seemed to build in New York City makes sense. He says the eponymous label, which has been around since 2012, was born there, despite its home base across the country in Los Angeles. Elliott says the city is where his highest concentration of customers resides. Setting up shop in the Big Apple, supplanting the old G-Star Raw flagship just steps away from Supreme’s shuttered OG storefront on Lafayette Street, is something that the designer says has always been a goal.
“Our first wholesale order was to Atrium. We’ve done nine shows in New York. We’ve had very meaningful moments for the brand in New York City,” Elliott tells Complex. “So in some ways it’s kind of like a homecoming, but in other ways you approach it with a great deal of respect because you recognize the fact that you’re entering a city that is fast paced and has a lot going on. If you don’t put your best foot forward, New York will definitely call you on that. So you wanna make sure that you’re the best version of yourself.”
The space itself is developed by the architect, Stephan Wiemer, who also developed John Elliott’s other flagships in Miami and Los Angeles. The minimalistic 2,700-square-foot shopping space will be home to a rotating selection of exclusives, such as limited-edition military-inspired outerwear and graphic mesh shorts, along with the brand’s seasonal offerings of sportswear, Japanese denim, Italian-made footwear, and more. Walls are covered by Japanese white tiles, while iridescent surfaces add a unique element thanks to the large floor-to-ceiling windows that let in tons of natural light. A shop-in-shop with art book publisher Taschen located on the second floor will be home to a curated selection of books.
“I honestly think that with our knitwear program, our jersey program, our French Terry program, our denim program, it lends itself to an in-person experience more so than online,” says Elliott when asked if there was any apprehension about opening another brick and mortar location. “It’s exciting because even in the pandemic people are shopping. I’m definitely not concerned. When you can do retail with an intention and you can do it well, there’s a space for you.”
A day before the official grand opening of the designer’s third flagship, we caught up with Elliott to discuss his brand’s latest milestone, his thoughts on the future of runway shows, what’s next for the almost decade-old brand, and more.
Check out the full conversation below.