It was with a fairly high level of skepticism that I headed to Washington, D.C. this past weekend for the opening of Atlanta-based streetwear shop A Ma Maniére's second location. This was not on account of the store itself, which will undoubtedly fill a retail void in the D.C. area and help make it profitable. My hesitation stemmed from the fact that the new H Street location is not merely a store — it's a streetwear shopping mecca topped off with a "hotel."
Yes, hypebeast culture has officially hit the hospitality sector.
Of course, this is not a bad thing. This retail concept is among the first of its kind, and with its potential success, it only adds to the legitimacy of the $300 billion streetwear industry, along with Supreme's CFDA Award win for "Menswear Designer of the Year" and Virgil Abloh's appointment as the men's artistic director at Louis Vuitton.
The term "hotel" should be used loosely here: A Ma Maniére has just two suites — a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom — and it caters more to the savvy AirBnb user than the typical business traveler who prefers a full-service experience. "A hotel room wouldn't fit us anyway; we're out of that phase, we feel boxed in, we need vibes," founder James Whitner tells me after I check in. "It's a merge between a hotel and the feelings of having a whole AirBnb. In an AirBnb, you don't get the towels, the good sheets, the soaps. I wanted to find a way to marry what's happening from a hospitality experience. It's the best you can get from an AirBnb and the best you can get from high-end hotel, but through our lens."
Choosing to open up shop in the nation's capital, a city that primarily shops for streetwear online, allows A Ma Maniére to be the big fish in a small pond outside of saturated markets like New York, Los Angeles, Paris and London. Whitner's other businesses are largely in the real estate space, so it's a seemingly natural fit for two of his ventures to come together for a bigger, newer concept.
Full disclosure: As Grailed promotes its Bape giveaway chock-full of camo-printed homewares, I couldn't help but subconsciously jump to the unwarranted conclusion that, from my hotel window, I'd transform into a Fuccboi Rapunzel overlooking a long line of D.C.'s resellers and hypebeasts assembled for the A Ma Maniére grand opening and concurrent Off-White Prestos and Nike Parras drop.
But I was proven wrong. There weren't any Supreme mugs or box logo-emblazoned crowbars. There was nary a Bape ping pong paddle in sight. There wasn't even a signature logo-print Louis Vuitton throw strewn across the bed. In fact, the space didn't feel like it was designed by (or for) a streetwear enthusiast at all.
There was, however, George Condo artwork (a noted favorite of Kanye West), Bodega Rose hanging basketball planters filled with four healthy plants, a family of Medicom Toy bear statues in both the living room and master bedroom, fresh flowers, a Snarkitecture x Pentatonic "Fractured" coffee table, Aesop products with a travel case in each bathroom (because everyone loves to bring indie beauty products home as a souvenir), three TVs whose combined inches probably translate to more square footage than my Brooklyn bedroom and light fixtures rivaling those you'd find in exclusive Miami or Los Angeles resorts.
For those truly wishing to make themselves at home, there's a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances (even a dishwasher!) and four proper plating sets, complete with both white and red wine glasses and salad forks. Candy jars filled with Starburst and Jolly Ranchers are situated beside an Aarke sparkling water maker, and there's a washer and dryer for guests on an extended stay who opt to pack light.
"It had to have art, it had to have tech and it had to be modern," Whitner shares as the top three must-haves for the residences. It's tastefully modern, primarily outfitted in Restoration Hardware furniture. Pops of color from the fresh flowers and the artwork from Whitner's personal collection brighten up the cool, grayscale color scheme. Both apartments, situated above the three-level store that also has an outside space, are "smart," offering control over the entire space: lighting, music, blinds, door locks and TVs.
What Whitner didn't mention when asked about conceptualizing A Ma Maniére's newest outpost is the level of personal pampering each guest will be offered. "We're building a custom site because a place like this doesn't exist," he says. Upon making a reservation online, visitors will complete a questionnaire to let the team know their likes and dislikes, favorite brands, favorite music and, of course, their Instagram handle.
The two-bedroom apartment will be available from $900 to $2000 a night and the one-bedroom will be available from $500 to $1200 a night without any minimum or maximum on the length of stay. There will be personal shopping services to help fill guests' closets with clothes they may want to purchase from the store below. The most personal touch, fashioned over the kitchen island, was a magnetic adjustable picture frame collage (reminiscent of the Instagram grid) filled with photos of my friends and my dog. As much as the spot was very "me" and all mine for the weekend, it offered a level of apartment goals that someone like myself — or someone with minimal knowledge about streetwear — could strive for.
Despite the hypebeast-friendly decor, the apartment felt much closer to a spot that an entrepreneur like Ronnie Fieg might stay in as opposed to an Insta-famous model or influencer. Instead of the aforementioned Rapunzel analogy, I more accurately channeled "The Princess and the Pea," incapable of sleeping in the top-floor loft above floors of Daniel Arsham furniture, Kaws and George Condo artwork. I was being kept awake by a subtle, pea-sized amount of hype pushing me to continue flipping through music and setting a mood from the iPad wrapped in fur blanket in bed.