Combining the unrestrained innovation of the digital age with the specificity of cultivated exclusivity, London’s new online concept store, LN-CC, is a true haven for niche lifestyle and design. Co-founders John Skelton (formerly of Harrods and oki-ni.com) and Dan Mitchell (formerly of Bad Passion) combine aspects of their individual and shared passions to create a retail treasure trove that features men’s and women’s items from obscure Japanese labels, avant-garde visionaries and established international designers alike. We recently chatted with Skelton about the the power of niche appeal, the decision-making process behind each product and the balance between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail.
JC Report: What do you think are the driving forces behind the growth of fashion e-commerce?
John Skelton: I guess the two main things for me would be ease of use and the ability to search so many different destination sites for the rarest of products without actually having to move from your computer.
JS: The internet is amazing when it comes to looking for really scarce items, which is why I feel that niche concepts are able to really come to life on an online platform. When something is termed “niche,” it is usually because there are only a very small amount of people within a certain area that could possibly be a consumer for it. But when you are looking at the global market, this really opens up how many people can possibly buy into it. If you have something that is still super niche on a world scale then it’s probably not very good.
JCR: How did the idea of LN-CC come about?
JS: LN-CC was created just to please ourselves really. We have been looking to progress and develop our feeling and concept for such a long time, so this just felt like the natural thing to do. I have been itching to try to translate our look into womenswear and have had so many requests to do so, so that was a real driving element in the set up of LN-CC. We also really wanted to add more things that are important to us, such as literature and music.
JS: The main thing for me is our take on the women’s offer. The concept is based on a masculine aesthetic, to give women the option to buy into a premium product that is not just high heels and handbags (which is what I feel the premium end of womenswear is dominated by, and which I really don’t like). We also have a superbly curated selection of literature which has been specially selected for us by Conor Donlon of Donlon Books, and Dan Mitchell has again managed to get so many special music projects executed that you will not be able to find anywhere else. All in all, it’s a very specific and hopefully interesting project.
JCR: What kind of products can we expect from your platform?
JS: You can expect to see the pieces that everybody loves on the runway, but that are always hard to get your hands on in store; the rarest selection of Japanese brands that you won’t be able to find anywhere else outside of Japan; and a lot of custom projects that have been designed just for us over the coming months.
JCR: Besides the shopping experience, what do you hope your clientele will take away from the site?
JS: I hope that people will be open and curious enough to get right inside our platform. We are trying to bring profile product to them minus the snobbery that is so often associated with this level of retail. More than anything, I just want them to be happy in the knowledge that everything we are offering has been bought for one reason and one reason only, and that is because we love it. We love what we do, we love what we sell, and at no point do we ever think “I wonder if we could sell this.” We buy it if we love it and don’t buy it if we don’t. It’s as simple as that.
JS: We love the online aspect of retail, but we also have grown up on the shop floor, so we really wanted to design and create a space that represents us as people and have the perfect setting to host our very particular selection of products. The space will be an appointment-only setup to start with, where customers can come and get the whole LN-CC experience. It’s going to be more of a tour through our 6000-square-foot space, which will move you through all kinds of different moods and influences through our seven different concept rooms: a library, a custom club space with a vintage sound system designed for Led Zeppelin as well as all of the brands we are stocking across men’s and women’s fashion.
JCR: How will brick and mortar complement your online venture?
JS: It will give us the ability to be able to express ourselves in a more literal and physical way, which unfortunately you can’t do online. It will also give our customers a chance to come along and get a better idea and feel of who we are and what we are looking to do with this project and our future projects also. We want LN-CC to be the the most interesting and inspiring retail concept and space in the world, we don’t want it to be the biggest.