The bar continues to rise on new retail experiences in Los Angeles. Far from the department store strip on Wilshire Boulevard and the shopping stops on Robertson Boulevard and Melrose Place, Zainab, an appointment-only boutique on a Hollywood side street teems with some of the most progressive labels you’ll find in the city. Manish Arora, Azzaro, Lutz and Jonathan Saunders are some of forward-thinking names that Zainab Sumu, a former Comme des Garçons manager has amassed in her primitive, modern space. We caught up with the boutique pioneer to gather her thoughts on just who is that stylish LA woman, why brands trust her and why Los Angeles.
JC Report: The celebrity industry and the fashion industry—are they one in the same in Los Angeles?
Zainab Sumu: Yes and No. Yes, one cannot deny the tremendous exposure a designer or store may get due to a certain high profile celebrity being photographed shopping or dressed in their clothes. However, LA has an understated and underground fashion movement that is far removed from the celebrities and not very evident to someone just visiting LA. There is a great appreciation and diversity in fashion by both men and women here.
JCR: I’m increasingly impressed by the fashions on offer in LA. Are you turning people on to your special brew of fashion, or is the audience already there and you’re simply making the goods available?
ZS: LA has a an amazing appetite for fashion, which I think is partly fueled by Hollywood, the entertainment industry and the diverse background of LA transplants. The audience is eager, and is already there.
JCR: Describe your clientele.
ZS: A wife, a mother, well-traveled, knows what she wants, appreciates fashion and is open to experimenting, but not a fashion victim. She is a socialite, business owner, a Saudi princess, an entertainment executive, a stylist, a personal shopper.
JCR: How do they hear about your appointment-only boutique?
ZS: Word of mouth.
JCR: Why Los Angeles for such a new concept shopping model?
ZS: There is an appreciation and excitement about fashion in LA due to the culture, the lifestyle and the weather. The possibilities here are limitless.
JCR: Who are the most popular designers selling at the boutique?
JCR: How are you able to procure such a top shelf selection of brands?
ZS: I constantly check out JC Report, relationships developed during my tenure as sales manager at Comme des Garçons, always on the look out on my travels and I also have a network of friends around the world who keep me up to date on new and exciting designers and trends.
JCR: Identify one myth about Angelenos and fashion.
ZS: Angelenos have no style and are too casual!
This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell