NEW YORK — The Great, L.A.’s advanced contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand, has moved into New York, bringing along its West Coast sensibility.
On Thursday, the brand opened its largest unit yet — a 1,800-square-foot store at 480 Broome Street, near such retailers as Celine, Isabel Marant, Moussy, and Cult Gaia.
Cofounded by Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, The Great has six other stores, all in California, in Newport Beach, Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, Studio City, Venice, West Hollywood, and San Diego.
“We are excited to expand our retail footprint, and New York was the next logical next step,” said Elliott, who was interviewed with Current at the new store. “We have a great customer base here and not a ton of points where people can actually try on and feel the product. Our love of fashion was really molded here. We would come here during fashion weeks and as stylists and also vintage shopping. We’ve always dreamed about having a presence here.”
Elliott said their goal for the New York store is to generate between $2 million and $3 million in the first year. Retail prices in the store range from $80 for T-shirts to $900 for the leather pieces. The average retail price point in their stores is $325. New deliveries will arrive every month.
The company has an aggressive retail rollout plan in 2024, and their next store will open in Montecito, Calif., in the summer of 2024. “We’re on track to meet our 10-store plan,” said Current.
The designers, who met at UCLA and bonded over bell-bottoms, have been partners in fashion for nearly two decades, from red carpet styling to launching their eponymous Current/Elliott boyfriend denim line with cofounder Serge Azria (where they worked from 2008 to 2012), to creating the casual Americana-focused The Great in 2015.
The lived-in space, which was created in five weeks, offers women’s, men’s and children’s apparel and gifts. The founders worked closely with interior designer and friend Brigette Romanek of Romanek Design Studio, who has designed all their stores.
Current noted that The Great is wholesaled in 300 specialty stores domestically, as well as retailers such as Nordstrom, Shopbop, Saks, and Net-a-porter. In New York, the brand sells Edit and Otte. Key European wholesale accounts are McMarket (TheCorner.com) in Monte Carlo, Monaco; Batalia in Saint-Tropez; and 2 Soeurs in Braahdaat, Belgium. The company employs 70 people.
At retail, The Great is often merchandised near such brands as Ulla Johnson, Sea, Nili Lotan and Isabel Marant at major stores. “We all sort of pick a different box in the lifestyle of women,” said Current.
According to Current, their philosophy on dressing is very inclusive and multigenerational. “We’re hoping that moms and daughters come in. We really have an expansive customer,” she said. Coming from a stylist background, they’re hoping that people will find a way to incorporate The Great’s looks in different ways into their wardrobes. “We are the core customer because we are women who are mothers who work and we want to be in clothes that we can wear all day long, from meetings to pick-up to all the things we do as dynamic women. I think a lot of our customers are in our world, like working women,” said Current.
Seventy percent of The Great is manufactured in the U.S. and the brand has a robust knit program that ranges from women’s to men’s to kids. “We have a lot of Cotton First noble fiber type of clothing which tends to lean casual. Just the way women dress these days is they throw a sweatshirt under a suit, or you put their T-shirt with a party skirt. We do have suiting and other collection pieces, silks, cashmeres, but definitely being comfortable no matter if you’re dressy or casual is a core tenant of the brand,” said Current.
“We’re really known for our knits,” said Current. “Our college sweatshirts, our boxy crew, they’re kind of cult-y favorites which people buy packs of three or buy multiples. Every season we do this beautiful garment-dyed program in Los Angeles. Our core knit program is cream and gray, but we do these beautiful color palette and color runs and it’s great for family dressing, especially this time of year. We do customization,” said Current. Elliott added that they do vintage novelty-inspired sweaters, and she imagines those will do well in New York. They also do fleecy textured coats.
Describing how the executives divvy up responsibilities, Current said, “We’re very much collaborators. We’ll meet to kick things off and then we’ll take our paths and work really intuitively. It’s really wonderful. We’re the co-CEOs and cofounders, but we really work on the creative direction for anything that’s customer-facing, whether working with our designer on the store design to marketing, PR, as well as the product,” said Current.
As for whether there are any other categories they’re interested in developing, Current said, “We’re really in the process of expanding our outdoors [offering]. It’s called The Great Outdoors. We have technical down outerwear and technical fleece. As we get into the summer/spring season, there’s more hiking apparel.”
The Great has a multiseason collaboration for footwear with Birkenstock, and produced some knits to go along with the footwear. It launched Nov. 14. Other collaborations for footwear and leather goods are coming. The Great has had a partnership with William-Sonoma for almost a decade. “At some point, we see there is opportunity for us to continue the lifestyle into more home goods,” said Current. The brand has a new collaboration in January with smallable.com, a French company that specializes in fashion and home decor for families.
Sizes in the store range from 0-5, and the pants have numbered sizing. “We love that someone can buy something really shrunken or oversized. We size in a really loose way. You’re not associating with one woman’s size. You can pick your own aesthetic,” said Current.
Current said they named the company The Great, which she said felt really liberating since they were doing it on their own. They will use the term for numerous categories, such as The Great Outdoors, The Great Man, The Great Sleep.
Each aspect of the store is designed to mirror the brand’s principles, fusing the essence of the West Coast lifestyle with the vibrant atmosphere of New York. The natural light is contrasted with warm green-blue walls, offering a cozy environmental homage to the mountainscapes of California.
“We want to create an environment that sort of felt like a home,” Elliott said. “Everything is tactile, you want to touch and feel. The sense of discovery and delight…we want this place to be a destination for somebody after a long week, or bringing someone in town, or getting a gift. It doesn’t just feel like you’ve entered the website. Everything has dimension and layer and a story behind it. All of a sudden you can find yourself buying something for your kid, or something for your home or a gift, on top of what you came for.”
The walls of the New York store feature a limewashed texture by Portola Paints, which mirrors the highs and lows of the brand’s garment-dyeing process. The team incorporated custom brass fixtures throughout the store, a tribute to the brass rivets found on vintage denim. Custom tables are inlaid with vintage fabric and traditional ticking striped fabric adds a touch of nostalgia to the changing room curtains. The store also features handmade Moroccan lighting and vintage rugs, with a variety of seating vignettes for customers.
A key element of the store is the selection of vintage collectibles. There are vases and bowls that hold custom bandanas and apothecary findings and stacks of coffee table books. Beyond clothing, there’s an array of sourced treasures, whether for the home or a new baby.
“Watching Emily and Meritt build their business together has been inspiring, and I am grateful to have played a role in the expansion to New York by joining them to design The Great on Broome Street,” said Romenek, the interior designer. “The people, sights, colors and energy of the city guided me throughout this design process to build a home for the West Coast-founded brand here in downtown Manhattan.”
The store, which has four changing rooms and will be open seven days a week, features the brand’s holiday 2023 ready-to-wear collection.