Much has been said about the current retail climate—last week’s Nordstrom highs, this week’s Barneys lows—but all of that noise at the top is creating room for a new wave of smaller, more sustainable retail concepts, particularly in Los Angeles. The city’s latest shopping destination is By Damsel, opening tomorrow in Culver City. Unlike a spare Silicon Valley start-up or a cavernous department store, the experience is intimate and immersive—and everything you see is available to purchase, from the jewelry to the furniture. It’s somewhat akin to Apartment by the Line, but personalized to founder Jacey Duprie’s personal style, which has its own following of more than 480,000 people on Instagram. By Damsel essentially brings her feed to life. It’s in sharp contrast to the collaborations other bloggers and influencers are launching with major retailers, most of which are only available online. Duprie worked closely with Platform, one of the few “shopping centers” in L.A. with reliable foot traffic, on a space that would cater to small and emerging labels. “You have to find the right partner and the right space,” she explains of their decision to take on a traditional brick-and-mortar store. “If we wanted to do an e-commerce site, it would have cost a lot more. The brands we’re working with now are offering their inventory to us on consignment, whereas if we were online, there would be the expectation for us to do a big buy.” For little labels like Sophie Monet or Retrouvai, that probably wouldn’t be feasible.
Another point of differentiation from her blogger peers is Duprie’s upbringing in South Texas. She says it gave her a unique perspective on the tactile, personal experience she wanted to create: “Being a cotton farmer’s daughter has made me respect the amount of work, time, and energy that goes into creating the garments we wear,” she says. She hopes that sensitivity comes through in the labels she’s chosen, like Amo Denim, which produces its jeans and baby-soft T-shirts in L.A. from start to finish.
The By Damsel space is small, but thoughtfully designed: Certain elements mirror Duprie’s own home, like the House of Hackney wallpaper, and the feeling is more like a living room than a shop floor. “Often when I go into a store, I’m looking at the bigger picture,” Duprie says. “I want the lamp that’s in the corner, I want the mirror that’s in the dressing room.” So she worked with Tricia Beanum of Pop-Up Home to source one-of-a-kind pieces and vintage treasures that would complement her curated mix of fashion and accessories brands, many of them female-owned. There are billowy dresses by Heidi Merrick; shirts by new L.A. label Harshman; cashmere knits from Filoro; and luxe accessories by Paravel and Hunting Season. She also sourced ceramics by Lucy Michel and beautifully packaged Santa Maria Novella products, along with much more. “It’s rare to find a store that sells furniture, art, and beauty, and feels highly curated—especially here in Los Angeles,” Duprie adds. Locals can check it out—and get a head start on holiday shopping—this weekend at Platform at 8810 Washington Boulevard, Culver City.