Even though West Hollywood men's boutique Alpha: Gear for Gents hasn't officially closed its doors yet (the bricks-and-mortar side of the business was set to shutter April 1, a date that was later pushed until this weekend), owner Darren Gold has already found a new -- albeit temporary -- place to showcase his wares: Palm Springs.
Alpha will be among a handful of pop-up stores that will be part of new retail incubator space Raymond Lawrence opening at 830 North Palm Canyon Drive on April 19 -- just in time to catch the crowds headed to the area for the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
"Think Fred Segal Center in the desert with Alpha as one of the store-in-stores," said Gold, who announced last month that he was closing his standalone store but at the same time vowed the Alpha brand would continue in some form.
Gold said his Palm Springs outpost would be just under 300 square feet (by comparison, his current Melrose Avenue space is roughly 1,000 square feet) and have a tight focus on men's shoes, clothes, grooming products and accessories like sunglasses and jewelry.
"I’m committed there for six months," Gold said. "But if it works, it could end up being more of a store-in-store -- on an ongoing basis -- instead of a temporary pop-up."
Other businesses and brands in the retail mix, which will be clustered in a former Design Within Reach store in Palm Springs' Uptown Design District, include apparel labels Crate of California, LASC and Made 2 Measure Fashion, home furnishing outfitters Art Style Innovation, Soup Home and Slip, and a grab bag that includes everything from a newsstand (Fit to Print) to a real estate broker (the Paul Kaplan Modern Real Estate Group). (Raymond Lawrence is the brainchild of co-founders Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister.)
Raymond Lawrence will host a grand opening event, benefiting the AIDS Assistance Program, on April 19 from 6 to 9 p.m., just as the Trina Turk boutique across the street is throwing a bash to celebrate that brand's 10th anniversary -- and the crowds roll through town en route to Coachella's second weekend.
"Coachella definitely put the whole desert more on the map with fashion people," says Gold. "It's like Sundance -- the word 'Sundance' now means so much more than just those few days. Everyone from L.A. and everywhere else will be out there to see what's happening."
"I talked to someone yesterday who said she's going out there and not even going to the festival at all. There are so many things going on around it now -– the houses and the parties -– that you can go there and do all that other branded stuff without even setting foot in the actual festival. ...The whole Coachella thing is insane."
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs in 2003. A retail incubator called Raymond Lawrence is set to open at 830 N. Palm Canyon Drive on April 19. Credit: Kevin P. Casey / Los Angeles Times.