Emerge in Color, Luxury Boutique for L.A.’s Black Designers, Opens In Taubman
Emerge in Color, a high-end fashion store at the Taubman's Beverly Center in Los Angeles, will sell only items made by Black designers and Black-owned fashion, beauty, and lifestyle businesses from all over the nation.
The specifically created area, which will be available from June 17 to July 23, will be situated on level seven along the mall's premium row, close to YSL and Ferragamo.
Lori McGhee-Curtis, vice president of specialized leasing at Taubman, came up with the idea for Emerge in Color to increase retail options for Black-owned businesses. Taubman estimates that despite Black Americans' $1.7 trillion in purchasing power, less than 10% of fashion and accessory brands are owned by Black people, and fewer than 1% of Black-owned brands are carried by American retailers.
The online retail platform Maison Black was founded in New York by Tori Nichel and has pop-up locations at Shinola in Detroit and GSTQ in New York. Frenchye Bush Harris founded The Black Fashion Movement in 2020 as a grassroots social media campaign to promote Black-owned brands online and eventually through in-person luxury shopping experiences at the Galleria Dallas among other properties.
The store will carry more than 50 brands, including Jam & Rico jewelry, Salone Monet shoes, Tribal Eyes eyeglasses, the Kevan Hall, In Earnest by Byron Lars, and S. McGee apparel collections. A variety of events will also take place in conjunction with the five-week pop-up, including a panel discussion on Black purchasing power on June 19, a beauty panel on July 3 in honor of Crown Act Day, and a shopping event with L.A. designer Hall, a founder of The Black Design Collective.
In order to promote regional business owners during COVID-19, McGhee-Curtis launched the Emerge idea as a weekend pop-up at Twelve Oaks Mall in Detroit. Her realization that the idea could grow and serve as a forum for Black designers came from its popularity. She looked for curators and eventually found Nichel and Harris, who just so happened to know each other.
It will serve as a location of discovery. Customers will be entranced by a stunning caftan designed by Kevan Hall, linger to look at a coffee-table book by Marcellas Reynolds, and perhaps even run into him at an event.
“They will see some lovely items from the Undra Celeste New York collection, and they will be able to purchase Salone Monet if they're seeking for a terrific pump that goes well with their lovely melanin skin tone. … They can then come across a plant they like and inquire as to whether they can purchase it. Yes, you can! Tansy, a nice neighbor who is supplying the plants, and I collaborated on this project. Therefore, the aim is to make as much of it as is possibly shoppable," Nichel continued.
Having a physical space to support upcoming, established, and undiscovered designers who need a stepping stone to grow in the retail environment and gain exposure with other retailers and even potential manufacturers was the perfect marriage, according to Nichel. "One of the things in our mission is to solve find-ability, so this was the perfect marriage with us being 100% digital to have a physical space," she said.
“For these companies to survive, which means that money will flow into our community and begin to take on new forms, it is crucial that we support them,” according to Harris.
The organizers also emphasized the importance of bringing designers and customers together. Harris remarked, "It's incredibly affirming...it makes me feel proud."
"We had been the only designers in the studio for such a long time. It's really lovely to see each other... You just no longer feel alone,” said Nichel. “The Black designer community is also getting to know one another, along with customer interaction.”
If the idea is a hit, McGhee-Curtis intends to use it again around the holidays and possibly broaden it to additional Taubman locations.
Because there are so many Black designers in the market, L.A. was her first choice, according to her. “We are in the middle of it here at the Beverly Center, so I thought it would be well appreciated. Short Hills, which is just outside of New York, might come up at some point.”
“Our future retailers are these designers. This is something brand-new and novel after COVID[-19], store closings, and bankruptcies. A number of direct-to-consumer brands are beginning to partner with us in our shopping complexes. The fact that we will also be commemorating Juneteenth makes it a wonderful moment.”