Today is the long anticipated grand opening and West Coast debut of UK-based Top Shop and Top Man at The Grove. (For those unfamiliar with Top Shop/Top Man, think of a higher quality, pricier version of H&M.) For years, New York was the only city Top Shop was located in, but eventually Chicago and Las Vegas were added last year and now Los Angeles will be the fast fashion retailer’s 4th location in the country.
I’m excited that Top Shop is finally opening in LA. However, I’m not thrilled that our first flagship store is opening in a faux-urban lifestyle center like The Grove. Most other great cities in the country have an urban shopping district, or high street, where flagship stores usually setup shop. In New York, it’s SoHo or 5th Avenue; In Chicago, it’s the Magnificent Mile; In San Francisco, it’s Union Square. It’s much more difficult for retailers to figure out where to go in LA because we lack that defined urban center. In fact, many top retailers aren’t even really in the City of LA at all but rather in other cities like Beverly Hills or West Hollywood that reap the tax benefits while Los Angeles loses.
With all that being said, however, there are definitely strong signals that point to more and more national retailers beginning to take notice of Downtown LA as a place where they want to target and see as a viable market. In fact, yesterday a Top Shop/Top Man truck was parked in front of Ralphs Fresh Fare (near FIDM) at 9th and Hope with the brand ambassadors passing out free Top Shop branded totes and gift cards (valued at between $20 to $1000). And who could forget the Guess clothing ad across Bottega Louie mistaken for an actual Guess retail store under construction? Or how about Urban Outfitters eyeing the Rialto Theatre space near 8th and Broadway? And Brooks Brothers coming back after leaving downtown. Oh, and of course, City Target opened last year and is already exceeding revenue projections.
None of these national brands would have taken notice of Downtown LA if there wasn’t already something substantial here, so I believe it’s only a matter of time before Downtown LA regains the urban shopping district it lost to the suburbs many years ago. One day, “Going shopping in the City” will actually mean something here in Los Angeles.