Welcome to LN-CC: The London space of the verge of a shopping evolution
In London’s far far east, where no fashion boutique has gone before, LN-CC is boldly going in a new retail direction. While the industry bickers over whether worldwide e-tail like Net-a-Porter or hyper-localized concept retail is the future, LN-CC is doing brilliantly at both like it’s no big thing.
While the first wave of concept shops⎯think Colette⎯are wearing out their cool, becoming tourist meccas with loud new music and overpriced cafes and kitschy “I was there!” trinkets, LN-CC’s approach is just the opposite. Its owners, buyer Jon Skelton and brand manager Dan Mitchell, are quiet and diffident. They’re open by appointment: not to be exclusive in the least, they say, but so they can walk and talk you through the wears. They sell what they love, from loads of Rick Owens and Margiela ready-to-wear to J.W. Anderson‘s punky brogues (word is that when Dan Levy bought a pair and tweeted about it, web traffic exploded) to obscure art books and records. When you talk to Skelton, you feel his tastes run deep.
The store, which opened last November, sprawls throughout the lower floor of a shabby concrete block in Dalston, an area so unfashionable that the nearest resto is a Nando’s. A soft orange glow beckoned me through the door and into the Gary Card-designed underground, all wooden slats in slapdash geometricity, laid with Indonesian rugs. It feels like a bizarro tree house, a tree house that is currently the home of LN-CC’s Raf Simons archive: a 400-garment survey of the seminal menswear designer’s work. Skelton seems kind of young to be the granddaddy of Raf Simons collectors, but in fact he owns 300 pieces himself⎯most never worn. From his clan⎯other collectors, stylists, and the like⎯he’s amassed a sort of super-collection, all to be sold at original retail. Now available for purchase online, all 400 pieces, including at least one thing from each of Simons’ collections can be found at ln-cc.com. On the eve of this e-comm revolution, we talked to Skelton about hoarding Raf and doing it for the girls.
You launched LN-CC with a few of your own Raf Simons pieces, right?
Yeah, I priced that stuff really, really, really high because I didn’t want to sell it. If people really wanted to buy it, they could, but that wasn’t the point. It was more to have, like art.
What was the first piece of Raf that you bought?
A sleeveless t-shirt of his with the mesh that became kind of an iconic piece of his, from his first collection, before he started writing which season it was in the back. I managed to get hold of one of them, and I’ve been collecting ever since.
People talk about the competition between e-comm and bricks-and-mortar stores, but you’re doing both at the same time, and doing both well. That’s not common yet.
We wanted to launch the store and the website in tandem and not have one be more important than the other. It’s all one. We don’t gage what we sell on the store and what we sell online. [Ed. note: their PR director, Charlotte, says it’s almost 70% online, 30% in store.]
I don’t think the bricks-and-mortar space will ever go away. What we are as people, what we’re trying to do, we can’t express on the website. You’ll never recreate the touch, the feel, the smell online.
The womenswear you carry has a boyish feel to it. Do you wear any of the pieces yourself?
Not really, but we have [male] customers that do. The first season was more taken from the mens side, like we bought Rick Owens and Damir Doma for women, but this season we took a lot more time with it. Right now we’re getting in Jil Sander and Haider Ackermann and more Margiela. It’s really taking shape.