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Last week, we broke the news that Kitson founder Fraser Ross had big plans to revive the shuttered retail chain in its original outpost on Robertson Boulevard. Besides being one letter different than its first incarnation, the concept for Kitross sounds very familiar: it'll feature "take-and-go items" and will "[give] LA back a little bit of [itself]" by promoting LA designers.
For those in need of a Robertson refresher: following Kitson's debut in 2000, the street became a star-frequented retail therapy spot; amidst the Great Recession, the late-aughts saw the openings of Chanel, Ralph Lauren, and AllSaints, among others. (Sadly, longtime anchor Lisa Kline shuttered in 2011, the same year that Rebecca Taylor arrived.)
As with any retail stretch's ebb and flow, Robertson's doors continued to open and close—The Kooples opened its first US store in 2014; last year, Nanette Lepore and Ralph Lauren shuttered, Zimmermann and Alice + Olivia decamped to Melrose, Chaser opened its first shop, and Scalise popped in and out. More recently, the street lost Hong Kong's iiJin to Melrose (Lululemon is also headed there this fall), but gained Reservoir's permanent-for-now boutique and a cool pop-up called The Parlor.
Now that it's been nearly a decade since the celebrity-frequented stretch enjoyed prime in the flashbulb lights, we're wondering if fashion's cyclical nature will help the street reclaim its retail thunder. We asked a handful of LA tastemakers and Robertson shopkeeps to weigh in on the subject; read on below and get another glimpse at Kitross, which could open as soon as this month.
Got your own thoughts on the matter? Feel free to share in the comments.
"It's going to take more than Kitson 2.0 to revive Robertson Boulevard, but Fraser captured a zeitgeist in retail the first time around and I'm enthusiastic he can curate a terrific destination. However, Robertson is very compromised and it's going to be a very arduous process to revitalize the street."—Cameron Silver, Decades co-founder and H by Halston creative director
"It doesn't sound that much different from the original Kitson, which was revolutionary at its time [...] namely, the rise of weekly celebrity magazines and the paparazzi-shot celebrity shopping that were [inspiring] fashion trends at that time. From what [Ross] says about promoting Los Angeles—that was something that Kitson always did, [so] I'm not understanding how this concept is different.
I think it's going to be really hard to turn around the sort of downward momentum of Robertson right now. No one goes there to shop anymore; even some of the tenants that are still there are trying to leave. That being said, I think there's always something for nostalgia. There is a bit of a hole in the market—and I'm contradicting what I just said—as far as a 'ra-ra Los Angeles store' because of Fred Segal really disappearing. There could be something there, but it's going to be challenging.
It's really funny about retail in LA: I think that neighborhoods become trendy and they go in and out. Robertson was undeniably very trendy, and now it's not; now it's Melrose Place. That's not to say in 10 or 15 years it could be Robertson's time again. It probably will be."—Booth Moore, NY Times and Wall Street Journal contributor, former LA Times fashion critic
"Fraser Ross managed to curate an attractive mix of pop culture and the instant glamour that mostly tourists and those new to LA expect, plus pepper in plenty of mass trends and accessible items. I'm looking forward to seeing how Ross does this again but in the current, and arguably much different, fashion and retail landscape.
Luckily for Ross, the Kitson brand DNA still resonates with a lot people and hopefully he can build on the success that he had when creating a new and more modern shopping experience. He was one of the first to open on Robertson over a decade ago and with so many stores having closed recently it looks like he has the chance to possibly revitalize the street again."—Melissa Magsaysay, fashion writer and brand consultant
"We're excited to hear about new stores like the revamped Kitson moving to Robertson and we hope they will bring a much needed revitalization to the neighborhood. The street has been in a state of flux for some time so it's encouraging that businesses still have confidence in the community."—Aliza Neidich, co-owner of Reservoir
"Kitson and Robertson itself occupies a very specific time in LA's emergence in the fashion landscape and is ready for a reinvention as they have each fallen off of everyone's radar."—Richard Wainwright, founder and producer of A Current Affair
"I am excited that he is addressing some of the things that consumers are interested in, like locally-made goods and has an invested interested in the street and community. That's what we are trying to do here. More unique stores and not just the same thing we see everywhere is what we need more of. It would be great if Robertson came back to life, that would be benefit everyone. I look forward to seeing [Kitross] when it opens."—Dina Epstein, Clark & Madison co-owner and co-founder of The Parlor