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When we got the email on Tuesday afternoon that TenOverSix would be shutting the doors on its Melrose Avenue location to focus on a new concept in Miami, it was bittersweet news.
Bitter because TenOverSix is the OG LA concept shop; when it first opened almost a decade ago, nobody else in Los Angeles was combining art, indie fashion, and design in one retail space, especially not with the quirky eye of Kristen Lee, TenOverSix’s co-owner, creative director, and buyer.
But it’s sweet because, as Lee told me over the phone on Wednesday, while the scene on Melrose has blossomed to include a bunch of similar stores and flagships of many fashion brands stocked by the retailer, there’s absolutely nothing like TenOverSix in Miami.
“[LA has] just become a much more crowded landscape, and it's kind of stopped feeling like we were offering something really new and fresh,” Lee said. “Rather than dig my heels in, I felt like, ‘Let's move on and offer something new to a new city.’”
The decision seems to have been a sad but easy one for Lee to make, who told me it really came down to a lifestyle choice when it was time to sign a new lease for the LA store. “I moved to Austin two years ago, and I get back to LA quite a bit, but I also travel to New York and Paris and Miami quite a bit. I'm a little traveled out, a little spread thin, and looking at the whole business, it just seemed like LA was not the best store to keep going with another five-year lease.”
But why Miami over another East Coast city? Lee explained that it came down to two factors. First, she feels there’s a hunger for TenOverSix’s point of view in Miami, a city with a retail landscape that skews heavily toward the luxury market. “We're going to be the only store offering our kind of slant and our kind of brand mix in Miami,” she said. “It's very luxury-heavy, very designer-heavy, but our customer exists there. I've met them, I've talked to them, and I'm really excited to go and offer something new that can be fresh and exciting and have a cultural impact.”
Second, she just totally fell in love with the neighborhood. The owners of TenOverSix were approached by a developer working on a retail project in a neighborhood called Little River, just north of Little Haiti. According to Lee, the brand is approached by developers all the time — she’s checked out possible locations for expansions in cities all over the country — but this one just felt like the exact right place at the right time.
“It's all very low-slung, low-profile industrial buildings that have been slightly repurposed at this point,” Lee said. “It's not displacing anyone, it's very industrial reuse. I like where it's situated in Miami — it's in the heart of Miami, not Miami Beach, so it's off the touristy strip and really among all the residential neighborhoods, the kind of neighborhoods I would live in if I lived in Miami. It reminds me so much of Silver Lake and Echo Park about 10 years ago. It also reminds me a little bit of east Austin, and these are areas where I hang out, where I enjoy checking things out, and I want to be a part of that.”
The space itself will be 2,000 square feet — which means plenty of room for conceptual installations and artist collabs, which Lee said will be a huge focus of the new store. Her neighbors in Little River will include all kinds of businesses, from vodka distillers to coffee roasters, as well as two restaurants her husband is working on. “There's like a whole mix of things percolating,” Lee said, “and it's all going to start opening over the next six months.”
Lee hopes to have the Miami store ready for a soft opening by December 2017 — in time for Art Basel Miami Beach, when the whole city will be abuzz with visitors and activity. In the meantime, the Dallas store will continue uninterrupted, and TenOverSix plans to revamp its website early this fall with more products for sale online and a better e-commerce experience in order to serve its many fans across the country — especially in LA, a community that will certainly miss the brick-and-mortar store.
There is one small consolation prize for Los Angeles shoppers, though: Now through closing day in a few weeks, there’s a blow-out sale on all fashion items in the store; everything is 80% off. (For those outside of LA, you can call the shop to inquire about making discounted purchases at 323-330-9355.)