Photo by OTDLA / GreysonTarantino
As of Thursday, April 28, 2022
On the Sunset Strip and part of the shopping, dining and work experience The Sunset, John Varvatos opened his first West Coast store on April 28 for his latest endeavor, OTD—On This Day. The brand is based on storytelling, with the name inspired by the celebration of great moments in time through Instagram and Facebook’s On This Day highlights. The store is the brand’s flagship location on the West Coast.
The brand began after Varvatos left his eponymous brand in August 2020 and decided he wanted to do something different. He began mixing a more sophisticated style with sports- and athleticwear as well as taking inspiration from streetwear to develop OTD, which launched its first collection of men’s, women’s and unisex clothing both online and with the opening of its first bricks-and-mortar store in New York in October 2021. In early December 2021, he opened a pop-up on Sunset in the same location as the West Coast flagship.
Varvatos always had plans to develop some pieces that could be worn by anyone but said it was great that even at the pop-up shop people were just shopping for whatever looked good, regardless of who it was designed for.
“The exciting thing is people come in already wanting to look at everything. It’s been fun to watch people discover the whole collection and pick and choose whatever they like,” Varvatos said. “Why should we have preconceived ideas of what someone should wear? I think when you start to draw those lines yourself then you’re discounting someone who can shop on the other side of the store, and who are we to make that decision really?”
Varvatos began shopping for locations for a retail store during the pandemic and said it was difficult to imagine how the foot traffic would be after the lockdown restrictions were lifted. While visiting L.A., a friend had mentioned the location at The Sunset, which used to be an old H&M store, and a late-night trip to the glass-front store solidified the location for Varvatos.
The store was initially planned to open in late October, but ongoing restrictions in L.A. County due to an uptick in coronavirus cases because of the delta variant kept pushing the opening date back. After Varvatos spoke with the landlord of the center, Kilroy Realty, the OTD pop-up was opened in the courtyard of the shopping center behind the actual store location to promote the brand while the physical store was being finalized.
“Having the pop-up has been amazing because when you talk about business, we’ve already created a nice business since December, and we’re hidden from the street. With a great view from the street and an already established business since December, it’s a great way to open, especially for a new brand.”
The inside of the store features custom furniture as well as a mural by Denver-based artist Joe Palec that tells the story of and highlights many iconic L.A. landmarks such as The Comedy Store and Randy’s Donuts. The store will also feature collectible contemporary photography.
Varvatos noted Kilroy was curating the space and was looking for tenants that are unique. The OTD store adds a retail component to a shopping center based in health and wellness that features businesses such as Equinox, SoulCycle, SunLife Organics, Sweetgreen and the Martinez-Samuel Salon.
Although the pandemic forced a lot of businesses to adapt and invest in more digital aspects, Varvatos said it’s important to maintain a physical footprint as it lends itself to a different kind of relationship between the brand and customer.
“Everyone I talk to who has retail—their business is really good right now. People have a pent-up drive to go out and go shopping again. Also, with new brands, you have to touch and feel it. We have an online presence, and we do okay, but when people walk in the store the conversion rate is really high because people can touch or feel it, see it and try it on,” Varvatos said. “It’s a combination that you need. We really believe in digital, but the success is in relationships too— the people and connectivity. Plus we can really tell our story in person.”