On Friday, Nasty Gal became the latest online-only retailer to expand into brick-and-mortar, opening its flagship store in Los Angeles. With a 3,500 square foot space on Melrose, the store design and—most importantly—the merch reflect the exact kind of carefully crafted blend of edgy glam and mass market appeal that Nasty Gal has perfected.
Kitschy, sexy and youthful, the store expertly captures the spirit of the LA-based brand and its cool girl 30-year-old founder, Sophia Amuroso. It is stocked with a meticulously-assembled collection of the types of pieces—trendy t-shirts, sexy jumpers, vintage designer accessories from Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Moschino—that turned the site into a $100 million-plus business.
More than the clothes and accessories, the store’s hip touches and unconventional design emanate Nasty. A “magazine library” in the corner boasts hard-to-find mags like Muse and Please!, vinyl from retro artists like Serge Gainsbourg and Betty Davis (whose 1975 single Nasty Gal inspired the retailer’s name), and a small collection of books, including Amuroso bestie Lena Dunham’s "Not That Kind of Girl" and—of course—Amuroso’s "#GIRLBOSS."
Atypically, the store’s literal centerpiece is the dressing room area. Smack in the middle of the salesfloor, five dressing rooms with two-way mirror doors turn the usually private activity of seeing if a pair of jeans make your butt look good into a spectator sport. It isn’t quite as voyeuristic as it sounds; when in a room, you can see through the door to the outside, but shoppers outside only see a mirror. Still, the doors create an infinity mirror that is destined to launch a million middle of the store selfies (like a small-scale version of artist Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room exhibit that took New York—and Instagram—by storm last year). The social media-friendly mirrored structure is all part of the brand’s grand plan. "We are engineering shareable moments, both visual and experiential, into our stores," Amoruso said. "We are creating real-life social media by engaging the community we have built purely online. Where that goes is truly limitless."
Given that philosophy, it was unsurprising that Friday’s opening featured a throng of LA cool girls and wannabe cool girls posing with outstretched arms and perfected frozen-laugh smiles.
But despite its free-spirited image, Nasty Gal didn’t become an e-commerce powerhouse by accident. Nearly every selfie-taker we spotted was clutching a new purchase, be it a vintage Chanel backpack, a Rosé All Day tee, or a copy of "#GIRLBOSS."
Nasty Gal is now open at 8115 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90046.