GROVE BOUND: UNIONMADE
Unionmade to Open at The Grove
For much of its four-year history, San Francisco’s Unionmade represented hip shopping on urban retail streets, but it was announced recently that it will open a location at one of California’s most prominent luxury retail centers, The Grove in Los Angeles.
Unionmade co-founder Todd Barket said he doesn’t expect much change from his store’s urban style when it moves to The Grove in spring 2014. It will take the real estate of a standalone space currently occupied by a Chico’s FAS. The 1,900-square-foot space is adjacent to the Los Angeles landmark Farmers Market.
Barket believes Unionmade will blend right into The Grove, best known for its Disney-esque retail main street and its range of high-marquee retail names, including Nordstrom, Barneys New York, Forever 21, Michael Kors, Gap and Vince.
“The Grove is the downtown for that neighborhood,” Barket said of Los Angeles’ Fairfax District and Mid-City sections. “From a foot and a volume perspective, we want to be in a place that could get more traffic. In Los Angeles, [that traffic] is in a mall rather than a small street.”
Barket does not forecast that Unionmade will ever run a big fleet of stores. Rather, he’s interested in opening a few more stores in the United States, then eventually opening a store in Tokyo, where there are a lot of aficionados of Unionmade’s Americana look. The boutique’s merchandise mix includes brands such as Gitman Vintage, Filson, Wolverine, Levi’s Made & Crafted, as well as the store’s Unionmade label. “We do a good job of finding brands that are classic or up-and-coming brands,” he said.
The Grove founder Rick Caruso had shopped at Unionmade in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood and had contacted Barket about opening a store at The Grove. After a year of talks and securing the right location, Barket and Unionmade co-founder Carl Chiara signed a five-year lease to move into The Grove.
Unionmade has built a reputation for the Americana look, according to many fashion-industry people who have shopped there. “Unionmade is a great representation of the current trends toward better quality,” said Shaheen Sadeghi, chief executive officer of Lab Holding LLC, which runs specialty centers such as The Lab and The Camp in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“The aesthetic is classic,” said Jason Bates, owner of the Derelicte showroom, headquartered in New York, which represents lines such as Gul & Blå, FiveUnits, Gram, Farah Vintage and Farah 1920. “The Grove is the most sought-after real estate in Los Angeles. If they can produce good numbers there, they can go to New York and other cities.”
While Unionmade started and gained popularity through the toughest days of the Great Recession, it has been opening stores at a steady pace. In April 2011, it opened an 800-square-foot store at the Brentwood Country Mart. In summer 2011 it opened a store at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, Calif. In 2012, it opened Mill, a sister store, in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, which represents an Americana sensibility but through women’s fashions.
Barket declined to forecast Unionmade’s sales at The Grove.