Arguably one of the Los Angeles area’s most popular destinations for shopping, dining and nightlife, Venice’s Abbot Kinney Boulevard embodies the diverse, high-low culture and casual, laidback lifestyle that drives people in droves to the West Coast. Set against the uniquely appealing backdrop of Venice Beach, the lively neighborhood is both edgy and elegant; an eclectic hippie-meets-hipster mix of stately homes and modest bungalows, delectable eateries and dive bars, thrift stores and top-rated boutiques—all of which make it the perfect community for Alternative’s first flagship retail store.
With its highly anticipated grand opening slated for Earth Day, April 22nd, the new store is set in a 1,700-square foot 1920s Craftsman-style home, and in true Alternative style, the design is all about the details.
Building the store with the same commitment to quality and care that go into Alternative’s clothes is interior designer Danny Gonzales. A 20-year design industry veteran with an impressive clientele roster including Armani, Henrí Bendel and Ferragamo, Gonzales has refashioned the store interior with mixed materials, recycled fixtures and reclaimed surfaces to capture Alternative’s vintage-inspired vibe and hand-crafted touch. “The look is sophisticated and urban with subtle details in the fabrics, painted treatments and materials used throughout the space,” he describes, adding that his favorite elements include vintage doorknobs, used shipping crates and recycled wood panels.
The creativity doesn’t stop at the interior, though. A highlight of the newly remodeled exterior is a beautifully landscaped garden inspired by New York City’s High Line Park where patrons can sit and enjoy the year-round phenomenal weather that only Southern California can offer. To bring the lush vision to life, Alternative has partnered with local floral guru and owner of L.A.’s Dandelion Ranch, Clover Chadwick. With a unique design philosophy inspired by renowned chef Thomas Keller and an aesthetic “rooted in the observation of nature,” Chadwick’s inimitable arrangements incorporate seasonal, natural ingredients that often come from her own kitchen.
Working with local designers, craftsmen and artisans who exemplify the Alternative lifestyle was of paramount importance to Founder and Chief Creative Officer Greg Alterman when he first laid the plans for his flagship store back in 2009. “One of the main goals of the retail store is to support the real people behind our brand, and Abbot Kinney seemed like the perfect fit,” he says, adding “Venice was home to our first California office seven years ago, so it means a lot to us that we’re back in the neighborhood.”
A reflection of his community-centered creative vision, Alterman plans to regularly host events at the spacious new store, such as yoga sessions on the back deck, charity fundraisers in the garden and art showcases in the numerous interior rooms. “We wanted the space to serve not just as a retail store,” he emphasizes, “but as a community venue that really captures the creative energy of the Alternative brand and lifestyle.”
With creativity in their DNA and 16 years of continued success under their belts, the Alternative team is now focused on delivering a heightened brand experience to customers. Vice President of Retail and Consumer Strategy Ari Bloom has ensured that the new store will employ advanced technology, including wireless checkout, touch screen stations with hands-on social media interaction and Foursquare integration. “Opening our own store will allow us to present our customers with a truly unfiltered brand experience. In addition, we will feature design and technological innovations that have never been seen before in a retail apparel setting,” says Bloom, noting that shoppers will also be privy to free onsite Wi-Fi and store-only discounts and promotions. “It’s an opportunity for us to build more direct relationships with Alternative customers and we look forward to furthering our connection to the Venice community.”
As a brand whose authenticity is not just in the products, but in the people, Alternative should fit right into Venice Beach, a one-of-a-kind neighborhood that has thrived on counterculture where people are passionate about living, whatever they do.
photos by Stephen Zeigler