Shoptalk: Welcome Hunters

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

above: a KTZ tee
all images courtesy of Welcome Hunters

For anyone who thinks LA style is all about velour sweatsuits and faux-tattoo t-shirts, a visit to Welcome Hunters, an independent boutique dedicated to progressive "high street" womenswear and menswear is a must. You've got to love a store that classifies clothing under three categories: women, men and unisex. I grew up in Southern California and went to college in the Bay Area, so West Coast boutiques with a different sensibility make me sit up and take notice. I tracked down Robin Cervar, who, along with business partner, Jason Gillis, runs the Chinatown-based boutique. Read on to get the full scoop about the exciting plans in store... a designer in residence (we're intrigued) and an in-house label in the works... plus some more delicious pictures from the shop's website!

Tell us about how you started Welcome Hunters. What is the concept behind the boutique?

Welcome Hunters opened in June 2007 by partners Robin Cervar and Jason Gillis. The concept is to take risks, discover emerging designers, have fun, and blow minds. We are unconventional and discerning and so is our customer base. The store here in LA is key, but we focus just as much on the online store, and work with photographers who get our aesthetic.

Tell us about the name. I'm curious to know!

The name comes from hunting lodges in New England. If you drive around there during hunting season everything says "Welcome Hunters" in fluorescent orange. Of course that has nothing to do with us, but we liked the phrase taken out of context.

You recently moved locations—can you tell us more?

We moved locations but decided to stay in Chinatown. We believe in this area, and have no desire to relocate to LA's west side or Silver Lake/Echo Park. It's not our thing. We belong here, in the middle of the fire crackers, red lanterns, dim sum, art galleries, and herbalists. Our new location is really just across the way from the old one. It's just bigger and gives us the room we need. Plus it has a special projects room on the 2nd floor, which we'll use for designers in residence and special collections. In May, Daniel Palillo will take up residency there for a month. He'll be doing limited collection pieces and working on events with us. More on that later.

above: a hooded tank from Complex Geometries

above: ruffled leggings from Daniel Palillo

What designers are you currently selling? Any bestselling items? Any designers you are currently loving?

We stock, I'd call it, high street style collections for men and women. Daniel Palillo (Helsinki) is our favorite, Kokon To Zai (London), Complex Geometries (Montreal), Mundi (Reykjavik), Ground Zero (London), Skyward (Gothenburg), to name a few. European street style is bold, more unisex, than American, and we love it. But there are some great things happening here too, like Pleasure Principle and the new LA line, House of Bare.We're in love with KTZ's take on the classic skinhead bomber jacket this season. And Daniel Palillo's baroque leggings and harlequin dress. Both lines sell very well, and so does Complex Geometries, with its toned down palette, asymmetrical lines, and soft summer fabrics.

Some lines do very well online, and we have quite a few customers in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Cats with great style! But LA gets an unfair rap, with all that Melrose, Ed Hardy, Kitson stuff around. I'd say the majority of our LA customer base comes from points east, not the west side. There's much more to LA than Hollywood, and we love it here.

above: another look from KTZ

How do you do buying for the store? Who does it? Where do you do your buying?

We both do the buying. It's a joint collaboration. And our method isn't complicated, we just look for designers and collections that move us. We're a bit less concerned with commercial appeal and more concerned with a true wow factor. Try buying at Paris fashion week. You walk around jet lagged and hungry, and everything starts to look the same. Then suddenly there it is, right in front of you, and you know. We are also extremely open to finding style in unlikely places, and then finding the way to get in the store.

Any future projects or collaborations for the store? Plans for expansion?

We have an upcoming project with Daniel Palillo. He'll be our designer in residence during May. As far as expanding the shop, we've already done that by moving to a larger space that allows us to take on more collections, more projects, more show. And of course we have our online shop already.

And more big news... Our creative director, Johnny Rodriguez of House of Bare, will be designing a Welcome Hunters collection for AW09. That will be the debut of our house line, and we're pretty excited about it. So stay tuned because it's about to get next level!

Welcome Hunters
451 Gin Ling Way
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 687-9905 (online shop)

Related Links:
Racked LA Coverage of Shop Relocation
Jargol Profile of Welcome Hunters

Welcome Hunters on Twitter

More Shoptalk on Dream Sequins:


The Haute-Shopper said...

It's great to see a profile of an LA boutique that doesn't fit your typical cliche (I do associate LA with Ed Hardy and Juicy tracksuits - thanks to certain socialites). I love those images. That hooded tank is pretty cool... like an edgy Grim Reaper ;-) Thanks for posting this, I'll definitely check out the website.

Dream Sequins said...

Edgy grim reaper. I like that look! :) Sadly, I am not in LA right now, so I couldn't get a shot of the new storefront... but I will report back with some shots of it when I visit in June!

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