Rag & Bone brings East Coast to Melrose
Posted November 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm in Lifestyle
Poster girl Kate Moss is nowhere to be found at Rag & Bone New York‚Äôs new L.A. clothing store, located on Melrose Avenue.
But perhaps this isn‚Äôt surprising. Rag & Bone fans are already aware of the contrast between overcast Manhattan and sunny Los Angeles, and the store‚Äôs series of gloomy photographs featuring a lovely, moody Moss only serves to make the distinction greater; naturally, such a Manhattan maiden wouldn‚Äôt be making an L.A. appearance.
Still, all joking aside, the shop is not without its share of the unexpected.
The small parking lot behind Rag & Bone‚Äôs new L.A. flagship store would come as a delightful surprise ‚ÄĒ Melrose Avenue is an infamous black hole for parking meter change ‚ÄĒ except that all the jet-black Benzes occupy several spaces each. At this, the average shopper would expect to find the store ‚ÄĒ a brooding, glass edifice, down the street from Urth Caff√© at which the Entourage boys once liked to sip cappuccinos ‚ÄĒ filled with type-‚ÄėA‚Äô personalities throwing around their weight in gold.
Instead, the glass walls of the large, overtly designed room encase a staff of three moving languidly about in their Rag & Bone Knits in too much natural sunlight. Except for a couple women tottering in and around the iron-pipe clothing racks in the dramatic ‚ÄúDeacon Boots,‚ÄĚ the place seems empty. The new store, with its soundtrack of T. Rex and mild hip-hop heard a bit too prominently over fragments of conversation, has the air of a lemonade stand struggling in a neighborhood without a lot of traffic flow ‚ÄĒ if lemonade went for 50 bucks a pop. Perhaps all the type-‚ÄėA‚Äôs parked and bailed (skipped down to Urth for a capp after all?), or maybe they were simply hiding behind exposed raw wood beams, Victorian iron safes and the occasional packing crate of domesticated greenery.
It‚Äôs not that Melrose is devoid of luxury shoppers; on the contrary, Rag & Bone stands just down the street from Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. Yet much like the way the store stands alone ‚ÄĒ down the block, seeming slightly out of nowhere ‚ÄĒ its collection seems out of context in bright, lethargic Los Angeles.
And given the wide assortment of the types of clothes offered, it‚Äôs difficult to determine the brand‚Äôs target buyer. A stylish entertainment lawyer? An older woman looking for conservative tailoring with the pizzazz of lurex? Except for the array of colorful skinny jeans and tiny leather shorts, very few things seem fit for a party girl, a grungy girl or, in other words, the likes of poster girl Moss. For a store whose merchandise is older ‚ÄĒ not only in its ideal clientele, but also in its vibe and aesthetic narrative ‚ÄĒ Moss seems a bit younger, a bit fragile, a bit frivolous.
Also, a bit English. It does seem that Rag & Bone has borrowed much from English import All Saints Spitalfields, from its steam-punk presentation to its hard-edged leathers and smattering of Very Serious Sparkles. Yet at the center of Rag & Bone are its traditional cuts, heavy construction and impeccable tailoring. The tension between ensembles perfect for stuffy New England parents and those made for Moss‚Äô entourage is confusing. And while walking the aisles, thumbing pieces like the ‚ÄúBiker Tailcoat‚ÄĚ (a red leather riding vest with black tails), a customer can almost hear each outfit murmur: ‚ÄúI heart New York.‚ÄĚ
But that is not to say that Rag & Bone should be restricted to East Coasters; that would be a shame. The brand makes absolutely beautiful women‚Äôs clothes. Its separates and knits are wearable and chic; its pumps and boots are well constructed and stylish; its tailored jackets (big this season), such as the knockout piece ‚ÄúRaj Jacket,‚ÄĚ are often loud statements, but are always amazing to behold on a hanger. Unfortunately, the brand‚Äôs aesthetic, albeit refreshing, is perhaps too hard-edged for the L.A. crowd.
Its menswear likewise features conservative cuts for urbanites. The shop presents pieces in Victorian iron safes, which are appropriate given the prices but inappropriate for many Angelenos, the ultimate chasers of the contemporary. Many of the men‚Äôs outfits seem destined to accompany the wearer on a business trip to New York or Chicago. The featured window item is a striking, long burgundy coat with a high collar to protect the neck from sleet and wind ‚ÄĒ a bit of a stretch for a city that thinks a temperature in the mid-60s is ‚Äúfreezing.‚ÄĚ
Some might understand the unique, euphoric rebellion of wearing a wool sweater in 80-degree heat, but most people in Los Angeles put a premium on comfort. So though many might gravitate to the Rag & Bone jean bar ‚ÄĒ comfortable and chic ‚ÄĒ customers might not as readily bring home wool and coyote fur (‚ÄúBelfast Coat‚ÄĚ). Rag & Bone might just be a brand with a New York sensibility trying to make it in the LA-LA land of yoga pants and flip-flops.
Rag & Bone will successfully continue to peddle its jeans, knits and tasteful basics at department stores and boutiques (e.g. Barney‚Äôs, Intermix). Any of these items would be ideal for college students looking to splurge on pieces that will elevate their wardrobes. It remains to be seen, however, if the New York brand‚Äôs new L.A. outpost will draw big crowds. During the next few months, check the raw concrete floors for scuff marks and holler if you see Moss.