Influential West Hollywood Shop LASC to Close
After a nearly four-decade run, LASC announced it will be closing its 4,000-square-foot bricks-and-mortar operation on the 8500 block of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, Calif.
For years, the store was an influential player in the men’s denim and swimwear game as well as a community hub for the area. The store was famous for its annual L.A. Pride and Halloween parties, attracting hundreds of people to the building’s rooftop.
Co-founder Don Zuidema said the business he ran with Mike McGinley and Alfredo Izaguirre was doing well financially, but their lease is scheduled to run out in August. A new lease would have seen a rent increase that Zuidema wouldn’t detail and the cost of business is too expensive.
“We feel like we are going out at a good time. Business has been decent. We are going out on our terms,” Zuidema said. “It comes down to the cost of doing business—rents, overhead and employee costs made the business model tougher for bricks-and-mortar.”
LASC, which stands for Los Angeles Sporting Club, also manufactures and wholesales an activewear and swimwear line also called LASC. It is sold on the store’s e-commerce channel, www.shoplasc.com, and at more than 40 retailers. Zuidema said that no decision has been made on the future of the LASC clothing line but shoplasc.com will remain active.
A liquidation sale for the bricks-and-mortar shop started on July 11, and the store is expected to close at the end of August.
Zuidema did not know who would be moving into the LASC space, which is housed in a compound where an extensive construction project will be wrapped up at the end of July. A Sprouts Farmers Market will open on July 31 in the building adjacent to LASC.
News of the store’s closing was a shock to LASC vendors such as Parke & Ronen. “LASC was the store for our demographic to be in,” said Ronen Jehezkel, co-founder of the New York–headquartered men’s collection. “Emotionally, this is sad. I was hoping that someone would buy them out and the legend would continue.”
Jehezkel forecast that the business lost from LASC’s closing would be balanced by customers shopping for fashions at the Parke & Ronen e-commerce site, parkeandronen.com.
Parke & Ronen had a Los Angeles store from 2007 to 2014, but Jehezkel said that the boutique business is tough in the Los Angeles area. “L.A. has a serious issue with retail. There is no foot traffic, and where there is no foot traffic it is hard to survive unless you are using the store as a marketing tool.”
LASC started as a shop devoted to gym wear and swimwear. When Izaguirre joined in 1998, the shop branched out into premium denim, casual clothes and some high-end looks. Along with Parke & Ronen, LASC devoted a lot of store space to brands like Diesel, G-Star and Scotch & Soda.
The store opened a year before West Hollywood incorporated into a city and became a refuge as well as a capital for the LGBTQ crowd. LASC grew up with the city, said John Heilman, a West Hollywood city councilmember who served on the town’s inaugural city council.
“It has been much more than a clothing store,” Heilman said.” It has been a center and gathering place for members of the LGBTQ community. The owners of the store have been leaders in our business community and proud supporters of so many organizations and causes in West Hollywood. We will miss the store, but I know the owners will continue to be involved in our community.”