Retailer of the Week
22 Aug. 2012
CHRIS JULIAN, OWNER OF FRUITION, LAS VEGAS, USAChris Julian founded the Las Vegas store Fruition with business partners Valerie Julian and Samantha Jo Alonso seven years ago. Specializing in high-end vintage and new, hard-to-find streetwear, the brick-and-mortar version begs a visit during this week’s trip to the trade shows in Sin City. Here, in an interview conducted yesterday at the Capsule Las Vegas trade show, he discusses the state of the market and why Fruition is a singular, must-see destination in Vegas’ retail scene. By Christopher Blomquist
What is the history of the store?
Fruition opened in 2005. It was an effort to reimagine the community of Las Vegas. I am born and raised in Las Vegas. We really try to seek out a way to create a new way of thinking about fashion relative to the marketplace and relative to the nation. And of course even now Vegas doesn’t have much of a fashion sort of base. So we wanted to come in and take a lot of concepts that were happening in Japan and France and even in New York or Los Angeles but do so in a way that wasn’t bastardized. And it was reimagining how to push archival and vintage specifically to a new level that in which people could then reinterpret and redesign new products. And that really is the basis of it. The basis of it to is to almost be a think tank for the industry. To give people new things to look at–artisanal sort of handmade goods and things that have been locked away in closets and archives or closets for so long to then be able to be reproduced or reimagined. That is kind of what Fruition is. Then, on the second layer, it is to see kids love what they do. And to see kids live their dream. And that is the biggest thing to present an extensive array of opportunities to the local community. Nothing against Steve Wynn, but we want to give people an opportunity to do things outside of just working in a casino or the nightclub and give young people the hope that we can actually build a living, breathing cultural community in Las Vegas and that is really what Fruition is solely about. We can only do that by being a leading example and trying to be the best in our industry at the highest level.
must-see destination in Las Vegas
How do you find your merchandise and brands?
We curate things from all over the world. We have got some really great relationships. We do these philanthropy-based organizational things with the fair trade market. So we work with tribes out of Africa. We try to get artisanal goods that way. We also have collectors who specialize in archival Chanel and vintage designer. We sort of curate that and then there are things I have in my personal collection that I am always looking for so if we are out on the road or I get to go to the Rose Bowl or if I get to see colleagues at a flea market we are always discussing old military or great things that sort of manifest themselves again now in the ready-to-wear and designer world.
What are you looking for when you shop a show such as Capsule?
We are really looking for consistency. We are kind of looking to push past “faux heritage.” We are looking for modernity and we are looking for people that are willing to take the risks and push the envelope in a seamless sort of really architectural way. I think that guys like Mark McNairy are doing a great job with that. And Norse Projects out of Copenhagen. When I am here I am looking for something chic, effortless and something that is modern.
What is the breakdown of your brick-and-mortar versus online store today?
The biggest thing about Fruition is that we want to attack a global market. We have never really been satisfied with being here. When we opened Fruition it was almost like I was living in Japan. I wanted to make sure that this store that even though it’s only 900 sq. feet in Las Vegas, I thought of it as if I was in the middle of SoHo or if I was in the middle of Paris. So my biggest thing is just being able to offer service when you come into the store and an elevated amount of service where you are leaving with just some sort of education or inspiration or a kind word or a smile. So no matter what, it kind of replaces going on the Web. Because we do want you to go to the store. The physical process is always better to try things on, especially when it comes to archival designs and things that are one-off. You kind of have to try it on. So in that sense, we really try to push the brick-and-mortar. But as far as the Web to brick-and mortar ratio, I would say that it’s about 60/40 Web and our Web base has been so great in aggregating clientele from all over the world. And it has been a think tank for so many designers. I work with Kanye West and all these other designers who use our think tank to really re-create new things. In that way, I think our reach is really global.
Fruition founder Valerie and Chris Julian
What are your bestsellers?
There are always the classics. Chanel is always great and we do a line out of Japan called Original Fake that is amazing, which KAWS is a part of and Medicom Toy. We do some really great things on the artisanal tip, which is like tribal meets military sort of things. We have some really great Balenciaga pins that are in the store now that are really cool vintage hardware brooches. It is all kind of all over the place in regards to our bestseller.
And you stock new and vintage?
We do. We interplay that. That is kind of one of the bigger innovations. Still, to this day, starting in 2005 we had a soulful twist not only on vintage but integrating key brands like Jeremy Scott and Cassette Playa out of London. We are always looking for new movements. We work with Nike sportswear now as well, which is a great new addition as well. My partner Samantha and Valerie are heading up a really cool new campaign for Nike in which they style and are starting to design certain things with Nike that can hopefully bridge what Lululemon is doing in the fitness realm but take it more into ready-to-wear.
How would you describe the overall state of retail, especially in Vegas?
It’s a lot of gray. That’s just kind of our world in general. I think that’s just the transparency that comes with the media and the Web and the influx of information transfer. I think the biggest thing is that attention span is short so how can we continue to drive focus to attention and detail?.... I have another business in Miami called Unknown and we are looking to reimagine the mall landscape of America. It’s just a consistent push toward being the best that we can be.
How important is visual merchandising at Fruition?
It is so… “urgent” is the word. It’s an urgent thing because that’s the storyline that comes across whether you are a novice in the fashion world or if you are the head buyer at Dover Street Market or wherever you are at. That is the thing that sort of defines us.
As a retailer, what is your advice to designers and brands?
Stay on the ground more. Assimilate the air that people are breathing right now. Where fashion and function meet is where we want to be.
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