It's been a couple of years since L.A. retail institution Fred Segal was acquired by Sandow Media, and changes are now underway. The goal of the acquisition was to expand Fred Segal beyond its Santa Monica and West Hollywood locations and to that end, the company has nabbed an investment from equity investor Evolution Media Partners, as well as a new CEO: Paul Blum, formerly of Juicy Couture and David Yurman. As CEO, Blum plans to open 10 stores -- "lifestyle centers" to be exact -- in the U.S. and abroad in the next five to seven years.
In a Q&A with WWD, Blum outlined his ambitious plans for Fred Segal, which involve completely rethinking the retail business, but also, in a way, bringing it back to its heyday in the '80s. These "lifestyle centers" will reportedly feature everything from hip fashion brands to food and drinks to fitness and wellness experiences. It's not far from the Fred Segal brand's DNA -- the store got its start as a hip one-stop shop, featuring a salon, a yoga studio and a restaurant in addition to little shop-in-shops. "If you walked into a Fred Segal in 1985, there was a great restaurant, a great exercise and yoga studio. A lot of these lifestyle concepts came out of there. That’s what attracted me to this whole project,” Blum tells the trade.
Since then, as hipper boutiques and concept shops have entered the landscape and celebrities have found other places to eat lunch, Fred Segal seems to have lost a bit of its luster. It will be interesting to see whether it can reclaim its cool. Juicy Couture wasn't exactly the hippest brand around during Blum's tenure, though Fred Segal is a pretty unique entity. Blum tells WWD he also hopes to make it an "incubator of design talent," which at least sounds like a positive way to both appear cool and support young designers. Plus, this "lifestyle center" seems to be a popular retail concept lately -- Urban Outfitters's multi-component spaces in Williamsburg and L.A. are an example.
These changes should go into effect pretty soon: The first lifestyle center is set to open within the year and a website relaunch is also said to be in the works.