WHAT’S SHOCKING about the new Steven Alan boutique, recently opened at 1919 Fillmore, is the amount of fashion terrain it covers, for both men and women. There’s jewelry, scarves, underwear, cologne, shoes, purses, sunglasses, watches, hats, sweaters, dresses, ties — even pajamas in soft cottons with whimsical prints. And there’s also even more unexpected items such as bottles of ginger and lemon syrup.
While Alan has deep roots in retail and design, he blasted onto the fashion scene in 1996 by opening the Steven Alan Showroom in New York, intended as a forum for a select group of indie designers he favored most. A couple of years later, Alan launched his own line focusing on menswear with detailing he wasn’t able to find by anyone else. An experiment with reverse seaming that was accidentally applied to every seam created a happy accident: his signature tailored shirt that creates a definitive line on the body. He followed that with a classic collegiate button-down in unique fabric weaves, then duplicated the look for women.
Shoppers will find plenty of Steven Alan’s designs in his new Fillmore boutique, as well as the other 10 locations — six in New York, four in other parts of California. The last store opened in Hayes Valley less than a year ago. But he’s retained a generous offering of other designers, too.
“Steven looks for designers who have something to say,” says Lindsey Hanka, manager of the Fillmore store. “If someone else is doing something well, he’ll take them in and show them off.”
She sweeps a case in point from the rack: a slightly fit and flared dress by Sea in flowing silk. “These designers don’t know what they’re making until the fabric comes in to inspire them; the design then makes the most of what the fabric has to offer,” she says. Another example: L.A.-based Clare Vivier’s simply designed leather goods, from coin purses to foldover clutches and carryalls.
One of Steven Alan’s own designs, the Crawford dress — a dropped sleeveless below-the-knee number in vibrant blue cotton blend with back tie — is $179. “It looks like nothing on the hanger, but it conforms right to the body,” says Hanka. “Once one person tries it on, others see it and need it.”
As if on cue, a woman emerges from the dressing room in a version of the Crawford in a green baseball print. Staffers and several shoppers burst into spontaneous applause. “Do you have it in other colors for me?” asked her companion.
Hanka describes the store’s typical customer as “someone who’s interested in something special — especially a fun, cassal approach to weekend wear.” As for the latest expansion into the neighborhood, Hanka says, “Fillmore just made sense. You won’t see Steven Alan in a mall. ”
Filed under: Retail Report