Homegrown L.A. rock ‘n’ roll brand Amiri has opened on Rodeo Drive its first retail store. “It was really important that it didn’t look like all the other Rodeo Drive stores,” said Mike Amiri of the 2,200-square-foot flagship. “I wanted to create a humble space, not a flashy one,” he added.
Italian entrepreneur Renzo Rosso and his OTB Holdings took a minority stake in the brand in June 2019. But for retail, “The natural place to open a first store was home,” explained the designer and chief executive officer of his firm.
Amiri’s off-white, gallery-like store is filled with Los Angeles light from floor to vaulted ceiling. He shopped for the midcentury modern furniture himself (“Pierre Jeanneret,” he said, motioning to two caned armchairs, “and that painting is by my favourite artist, Wes Lang, whose studio is five minutes away from our headquarters”). He also had a $26,000 Amiri branded foosball table installed for pickup games, and curated the playlist, a mix of rock, soul and rap.
And in a true full-circle moment, he’s collaborated with the City of Beverly Hills, where his Iranian immigrant parents rented an apartment so Amiri could go to a better school, on a co-branded, special-edition hoodie ($790) and T-shirt ($350) to celebrate the opening of the store.
Originally slated for January, the flagship was delayed because of COVID-19. “It was important to make sure we did it right,” Amiri said, nodding to the heaviness of the moment. “And the brand’s foundational strength has always been not growing too fast…”
So no, he didn’t have any sleepless nights over signing a lease on Rodeo Drive and not being able to open, at least not that he will admit. “We have spent so much time protecting the brand that I knew the demand was strong. For every one Amiri account we’ve opened, we’ve turned down seven, and it’s created a market of scarcity where there’s a really high demand still. Opening this store, I knew we had a client that loved the brand and would welcome the opportunity to shop.”
He acknowledged the headwinds that have bankrupted several more established brands already this year, including John Varvatos. But Amiri has kept things tight enough to avoid having excess inventory. “We control our production, 80 percent is in L.A., everything is vertical, and there are very few things out of our hands. That’s helped us to not be as affected as other brands,” said the designer, whose headquarters in downtown L.A. is still not fully reopened.
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