With its gallery-like aesthetic and multiroom layout, where each nook serves as a white backdrop for cutting-edge footwear and accessories, West Hollywood newcomer TenOverSix pushes minimalism to its maximum. Though the hip offerings from cult and coveted designers are treated with reverence, there is a playful element to the slightly madcap displays, which, like the store’s name, are partly inspired by Lewis Carroll’s ”Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
“We use the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ reference loosely — it’s more about what the store evokes: curiosity, an otherworldly quality. We want TenOverSix to be a place to explore,” said shoe and handbag designer Kristen Lee, who serves as TenOverSix’s creative director, head buyer and stylist. Her partners in the enterprise, which debuted in August, are her husband, fi lmmaker and TenOverSix President Joe Cole; stylist Gina Correll; and designer Brady Cunningham, an alum of vintage clothing retailer Resurrection. All are former New Yorkers.
For the store, that sense of discovery extends to rotating multimedia installations, including Cole’s fi lm, “Alone/Together.” “It’s part of an ongoing project called ‘Dress as an Expression of Art,’” Cole said. “The goal is to pair artists with designers to create an [art] installation that coincides with an exclusive [limited-edition] collection.”
THE RIGHT MIX
Instead of taking a back seat to apparel, footwear and accessories are the main event at TenOverSix, with more than 70 brands showcased from an ever-changing list of labels. “We wanted to bring together independent, interesting labels, like department stores such as Barneys or Bergdorf,” Lee said.
“Most of our roster comes from Brooklyn, N.Y. — [where there’s] a certain aesthetic of the designers — as well as from New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles and Sydney.”
According to Lee, fall ’08 standouts include Georgina Goodman and “young design stars Rachel Comey and Tashkent by Cheyenne.” For spring, selections include A.P.C., Hayden- Harnett and MS by Martine Sitbon. Lee’s own footwear designs, produced under her name and the TenOverSix label, are also featured.
Most shoes retail for between $230 and $750. In addition to footwear, the store also carries handbags, leather goods, hats, sunglasses, scarves, ties, home accessories, vintage fi nds, books and artwork. And apparel isn’t completely out of the picture: TenOverSix showcases select designers in pop-up shops.
“We’ll always be a strong accessories store, but we can’t help ourselves,” Lee said. “We have to have some clothing, too.”
The 2,000-sq.-ft. boutique is housed in an historical 1920s building in West Hollywood. Instead of bringing a hotshot design team on board, the partners consulted with an architect friend, hired a painter and did most of the work themselves.
“We came up with the concept of a gallery-like store — a surreal space inspired by assemblage art we’ve seen at museums and galleries,” Lee said.
Much like its clientele, the laidback sales staff is extremely knowledgeable about the products. TenOverSix further elevates its high level of service with an appointment- only area featuring a private salon with its own courtyard entrance and a lounge where celebrities, stylists, VIPs and wardrobers can browse in privacy.
The partners eschew advertising and traditional marketing avenues in favor of a grassroots promotional approach. A soft launch on Aug. 15, followed by a celeb-studded grand opening party on Oct. 15, got the buzz rolling, reaping tons of press. “Our promotional tactic is to get friends, tastemakers and people who work in fashion to shop here and tell their friends. We think it will trickle down,” Lee said. She and Correll also continue to style shoots and credit the work back to the store. “All these events add up in a nice way.”
Like most retailers, Lee views the economic recession as a hurdle. She also noted that “getting people to put us on their shopping map is a challenge.” So far, though, the store’s sales are on target.
The partners also have a grander vision for TenOverSix. “We’re working toward growing beyond retail into other creative arenas, such as private-label, fi lm, talent and design,” Cole said. “As president, my focus is more on the long-term aspirations of the company as we work toward our goal of becoming a multifaceted creative brand anchored by our retail business.”
Bruce Emil, director of sales for Matt Bernson Design, said he admires the care that goes into selecting the brands and the creative way the merchandise is displayed. “The store’s fl oor plan harkens to the days of ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse,’” Emil said. “Pockets of merchandise are scattered through multiple, independently designed rooms and inspire a treasure-hunt mentality and a reassurance that there is an item there for you, and only you.”
Lynn Rosetti, showroom director for the Steven Alan Showroom, which reps some of TenOverSix’s major shoe and accessories lines, including The Generic Man and Xpat, praised the store’s New York vibe, noting it “has a very intelligent, cerebral feeling. It’s as though all the product in the store has a higher purpose than just making profi ts.”
THE WEST HOLLYWOOD SCENE
Neighborhood vibe: TenOverSix is located on a walking stretch of Beverly Boulevard, surrounded by interior design stores and old buildings. Customer base: Stylists, fashion industry types and young women who adore fashion and prefer to buy from independent, original designers.
Competition: While West Hollywood is rife with shoe-shopping options, TenOverSix’s owners believe that no other boutique brings together as many highconcept accessories and footwear as they do.