If you thought pop-ups were the one big idea that altered the course of fashion history, here’s another trend that’s starting to gain traction. A trend that started around 2011, fashion trucks have been mushrooming all over the US at a steady rate. With a lower average start-up cost of US$20,000 and more flexibility compared to your traditional bricks and mortar boutique, mobile retail trucks present an ingenious solution for business owners looking to obtain a physical outlet to sell their wares.
According to data from the American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA), there are 500 fashion trucks across all 50 US states and that figure is still climbing. Are fashion trucks the future of retail? Follow the inspiring stories of the fashion pioneers leading the mobile retail movement and tell us!
Los Angeles, California
LA’s original mobile boutique goes back to 2011, when founders Stacy Steffe and Jeanine Romo hopped onto the idea of starting a mobile fashion business. Steffe was selling vintage handbags while Romo had her own line of handmade jewellery when the pair met at Cerino Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles.
Fashion trucks were virtually unheard of then but the success and omnipresence of LA’s gourmet food trucks steered them forward. They bought a truck off Craigslist and renovated it into a snazzy little mobile shop. They’ve even gone on to pave the way for the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs by establishing the American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA).
You couldn’t miss it if you tried. Brushed in a delicate powder pink with the words “Le Fashion Truck” imprinted in cute cursive letters, the truck makes for such a pretty sight. The interior rocks a vintage chic look, with floral wallpaper and Parisian-inspired décor.
The racks are filled with vibrant vintage and bohemian-cool apparel, bags and accessories. Stacy and Jeanine like to work with local and emerging designers to deliver designs that are truly one of a kind. Handcrafted jewellery, bags, sunglasses and dresses from US-based designers like Costella Handbags, Janesko Jewellery and Velvet Eyewear are just some of the amazing selection of goods on display.
Where to find it:
You’ll find it parked near the Santa Monica Pier or downtown’s FIGat7th. Le Fashion Truck also plies its wares at events like the monthly Venice Meet.
Kit and Ace are taking the show on the road in true rockstar fashion. Prior to its official launch in the US, the Vancouver-based clothing retailer started by J.J. and Shannon Wilson (son and wife of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson) has been touring parts of the US and Canada in a copper-clad Airstream trailer dubbed The Copper Studio. So far, the landmark journey has taken them across the East and West Coast, Southern states and Canada. The “Grand Tour” kicked off at the Coachella music festival in Palm Springs, before making its way through the iconic cities of the Golden State. In between greeting locals at new locations, the Kit and Ace crew have fun hosting supper clubs, finding collaborators amongst the “creative class” of each city and attending iconic events such as Art Basel in Miami. Join the ride! Give #thecopperstudio a follow and be the first to know if it’ll be cruising into your city.
The humble trailer has been given a futuristic update with a shiny copper-finish paint job and custom fittings. Created in partnership with Hofmann Architecture, the Copper Studio’s interior is kitted out in Kit and Ace’s signature minimalistic aesthetic — with ash wood shelves and white walls.
Get a feel of Kit and Ace’s oft talked about “technical cashmere” clothing for men and women. Engineered from machine-washable cashmere and a blend of other fibres, Kit and Ace’s basic range is designed to deliver the pinnacle of functionality, versatility and comfort to its wearer. Customers can try on some of the best-selling styles and have their order delivered to them at no extra cost.
Where to find It:
The Copper Studio just wrapped up its SoCal tour in sunny California. Follow #thecopperstudio on Instagram for updates on where it’s headed next.
Los Angeles, California
One of the latest mobile boutiques to spring up in Los Angeles, Beautiful Things LA is commonly seen cruising along the streets of downtown LA, shuttling its busload of specially curated wares all across the city. What began as a pipe dream soon turned into reality for Susan Forrest-Reynolds in 2013, when she purchased a vintage Bluebird school bus and decided to transform it into a travelling boutique on wheels. Together with her daughter Lucia, she scours the local markets to build up their eclectic inventory of accessories, gifts and home goods that they bring to the LA crowd.
As soon as you get past the door, you’ll forget you were in a truck! The interior feels cosy and comfortable with a sense of ease. Decorated in a soothing palette of white and natural tones, the space feels more like a refined home or gallery than anything else.
Over half of BTLA’s inventory is filled with the work of California makers. These include artisan-made accessories and objects from Marida Jewellery, Hannah Keefe, Janessa Leone and Ink+Smog Editions. Far from your average corner boutique, Beautiful Things LA spends the extra effort to search for objects with meaning.
Where to find it:
Beautiful Things LA hits the streets Thursday through Sunday each week although he bus is most frequently spotted at weekend fairs such as Artists and Fleas and Larchmont Village. Keep track of their whereabouts at BTLA’s website and Twitter feed (@btla_bus).