Shop Super Street is a boutique that spans clothing and objects that intersect in fashion, design and art. High/low pieces are mixed with well-established and little-known designers. We sat down with Lucy Akin, the founder of the store who nailed the artful balance of edited but also unexpected merchandise on the changing retail landscape and what she looks for in sourcing for her shop.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started.
I started working in fashion while I was still in college, I was dying to get involved. I started interning everywhere I could to figure out what I wanted to focus on. I interned for fashion magazines, fashion PR firms, fashion boutiques, and ultimately was brought to fashion week my senior year. Once I graduated I landed an internship-turned-job at Jenni Kayne in Los Angeles. I quickly realized that I wasn’t meant to become a designer and that my real passion was buying. I was offered a position as the head buyer at Satine and that’s where I really learned and blossomed with my career. I traveled for the buy four times a year from New York to Paris (and sometimes London and Milan thrown along the way). I was working with the best brands: Valentino, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Alaia etc…It was a really great job to have at such a young age, and I made a lot of great connections.
What inspired you to leave Satine and start your own business?
It was really a hard decision to leave Satine. It was such a great job, but I knew I had reached my glass ceiling there. I had two options - to go corporate or to start my own thing. Unfortunately, going corporate was not an option because at the time I was too young to qualify for anything that matched my experience. So, at the ripe age of 25, I started Shop Super Street. In it’s initial phases, I wanted it to be a quirky site for objects and gifts… but that quickly changed when I realized I couldn’t stay away from the fashion side of things. So slowly but surely, it evolved into what it is today - a website with a mix of high end and skateboard designers for the girl who loves fashion and discovering new brands.
At a time where retail giants are beginning to shut down, how have you seen retail change throughout the years?
Most fashion businesses that are thriving right now are direct-to-consumer. Online has really changed the retail landscape. It used to be that you had a store and you only had to compete with the other stores in your city. Now, it’s the retail giants online that we also compete with (Net A Porter, Shopbop, etc). We have to offer the same discounts and customer service that they offer which is hard for a small business. So I think right now, everyone is holding their breath waiting to see what happens. We can’t control customer behavior but it seems that everything is going in the direction of direct to consumer. We stay competitive by stocking brands that no one else has. It gives a reason for a customer to shop with me rather than someone else.
How do you differentiate yourself from other boutiques?
I try to keep our mix of designers original and interesting. I hope that when customers come to my store, it’s about the discovery for them. I think online we do a great job of showing clothing in a new way - pairing that Huf T-shirt with a pair of Eve Denim overalls. It’s all about the mixing and styling of the pieces.
How does your lifestyle in LA inform the way you curate items for the store?
It’s a casual store which is reflective of the lifestyle here. I think every age can shop at my store whether you’re shopping for the perfect white button down or a crazy embroidered bomber.
You’ve created a distinctly unique shop that combines street wear brands with more elevated pieces, what do you look for in the designers you carry?
For me it comes down to originality 100% of the time. I love designers that have their own unique voice and something new to share. I like clothing that gets you excited about what you’re purchasing. My favorite feedback from our clients is that they get compliments on their purchases all the time!
The second thing we always have to take into consideration is if the brand is carried at a lot of stores… When the market is saturated, it just gets that much harder for us to sell it.
Where do you source for inspiration?
I love scouring the early 90s runway shows on Vogue Runway. Prada 1992 - 1994 is my current obsession and inspiration right now. I also take a lot of trips which is great for inspiration - Mexico, Morocco, Italy…
Tell us about the Shop Super Street Girl - what does she do, what is she like.
The Shop Super Street girl is a woman of all ages - but the one thing they have in common is their love of fashion. Girls come into my store because they want the new, coolest thing - whether it be LOROD, Alyx, Y/Project, or Hyein Seo, usually we have a client who is on the hunt for something special.
Describe your perfect day in LA:
My perfect day in LA starts with a quiet morning at my house with my boyfriend and my dogs. We usually go on a walk through Griffith Park and grab coffee at Trails. I’m working on my own collection now, Ciao Lucia, and I love going to fabric stores so I spend a lot of time there getting creative. Every perfect day of course ends with a great dinner among friends - my favorite thing to do is go to a restaurant and have a long dinner with lots of different food and wine to try.
One merging designer that needs to be on everyone’s radar:
Tessa Matthias is one to watch. We are getting her collection in for Fall and she has a very unique perspective and re-works a lot of vintage. A lot of her pieces are one of a kind too!
What is your favorite exhibit / gallery at the moment?
The Kerry James Marshall exhibit at the MOCA is incredible!! I’ve never been able to see his works before and they were incredible to finally see in person.
3 tracks on your playlist right now:
1. Freedom! ’90 - George Michael
2. Lovefool - The Cardigans
3. Lady - Modjo
Top 5 weekend haunts in LA:
1. Little Dom’s - this is my go-to. I am always here.
2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
2. Cafe Stella - A classic off Sunset
3932 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
3. Bar Angeles - my favorite new restaurant on the east side!
4330 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
4. Alimento - another east side favorite
1710 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
5. Trails - Griffith Park is right next to my house so I’m here all the time!
4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The city’s best hidden gem:
The Petit Ermitage. Ever since I moved to LA in 2010 I’ve loved their roof top garden. It’s so peaceful and beautiful.