December 10, 2022


Youth trendy style

How Fred Segal’s retail and manner eyesight improved L.A.

Fred Segal was quite a few things. He was a family guy, a passionate peacenik, a fashion denim pioneer, a champion of Los Angeles manner, and a visionary landlord who enthusiastically embraced both equally the shop-in-store structure and the notion of experiential retail extensive right before either of these terms was coined.

Additional than everything, the Chicago-born, L.A.-raised businessman aided shape the glimpse and sense of the retail landscape in Southern California in a way handful of some others have. Alongside the way, he turned a rock-star retailer known much further than his centers’ iconic ivy-covered partitions thanks to celebrity pop-ins (Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears, Diana Ross and the Beatles, to title just a handful of) and silver-screen shoutouts in movies which include “Clueless,” “Legally Blonde” and “Less Than Zero.”

Segal died Thursday at 87 from troubles from a stroke.

By all accounts, what place Segal on the trend map — just before he established about basically redrawing that map — was incorporating a dash of trend aptitude to the humble pair of blue denims. His eureka minute came in 1960. Although doing work as a sales supervisor at HIS Sportswear, Segal understood that denim that normally retailed for $3.98 could fetch $19.95 with a minimal tweaking.

“When he began, it was all just Lee denims and Levi’s, and they ended up just function denims,” daughter Annie Segal advised The Instances. “He was the very first man or woman to lessen the waistband to make a hip-hugger jean. He was the first man or woman, I consider, to embellish denims with rhinestones. He experienced an onsite rhinestone dude. That was in the 1960s. No a single was accomplishing that.”

In 1961, Segal opened his 1st keep, a 300-square-foot space on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, which not only kicked off the very first wave of designer-denim mania but pioneered a “jeans bar,” a concept that has been copied by retailers all-around the entire world. In 1965, getting outgrown that place, he relocated to the corner of Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard, which at the time was an entirely residential neighborhood. By buying up property following house, he cobbled alongside one another what would sooner or later be a 29,000-sq.-foot, 102-parking-spot retail middle that would contact off the transformation of that extend of Melrose into the store-stuffed thoroughfare it is today.

It was there that Segal started to experiment with the then-novel shop-in-store strategy, 1st tapping workers to choose cost of distinct regions inside of the retail store, later on recruiting other vendors (curators of SoCal interesting Ron Robinson and Ron Herman amongst them) to fill the rabbit warren of spaces, making confident every single complemented the many others. That, according to retail developer Rick Caruso, was portion of the Fred Segal magic contact.

“He had the vision to develop this place with all this strength and enjoyment close to it,” Caruso instructed The Instances. “It was about mixing distinctive classes jointly that individuals had never ever completed. It was about connecting the inside of and the exterior. And it was the selection of unique sellers. … What was happening in retail before Fred was both a strip shopping mall with a drugstore and a grocery store or a dry cleaners, or major malls likely up that had common anchor stores that have been just bland and unexciting. And the scale of what Fred did was so intelligent. He understood the relevance of a human scale — that persons should come to feel cozy in a house and have it be little enough that there is an electricity to it and it feels a very little little bit crowded and not so major that you get missing in it. Fred’s genius was figuring out what people today preferred and would react to and offering on it.”

Caruso claimed Segal’s impact could be observed in some of his possess operate. “I initially achieved Fred 30 years ago at the commencing of my possess job,” he stated. “And if you get a search at some of my previously tasks — the Promenade at Westlake and the Commons at Calabasas — the blend of vendors that I put collectively out there were encouraged by Fred. At the time, these suburban centers pretty much just experienced a current market, a drugstore and a dry cleaner. In Westlake, we had the current market and dry cleaner, but we also had a bookstore, a movie theater, eating places, trend we protected all types. That was encouraged by Fred.”

The exterior of the Fred Segal center on Melrose with its ivy-covered walls

The Fred Segal at Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard opened in 1965. The site, photographed in 2000, grew from just one shop to a retail heart encompassing 29,000 square feet.

(Iris Schneider / Los Angeles Situations)

In 1973, Segal turned his focus to a ramshackle 1920s-period motel-turned-apartment-advanced just off Pacific Coast Freeway, producing the Malibu Nation Mart, which would officially open up two yrs afterwards — with a Fred Segal boutique in the mix. In 1980, he produced one more cluster of boutiques across the avenue. The purchasing intricate continues to be a local community hub to this working day.

“At the time, it was so region out there that folks have been using up on horses,” Annie Segal said. “How on earth he considered that could be a profitable shopping heart I have no strategy, but he brought in other merchants — La Scala was 1, Jackie’s Leather-based Waves was an additional. And he set that playground in the center so we, his kids, could engage in though he was doing the job. Household was pretty, pretty essential to him.”

By the early 1980s, Segal experienced moved on from the retail facet of the company (a 1984 Los Angeles Instances post documented he “sold the business enterprise to longtime friends”) but remained as the visionary landlord, spearheading the third retail lightning strike: the 1985 opening of a Santa Monica Fred Segal outpost on the web site of a former skating rink, complete with an indoor playground and mommy-and-me courses.

Jeannine Braden, who ran the Fred Segal Aptitude shop there from 1992 to 2009 (she’s now the inventive director of L.A.-primarily based women’s modern day label Le Superbe), grew up in nearby Venice. She explained the arrival of the Fred Segal middle touched off main variations in that community.

“When he commenced Santa Monica, there was practically nothing all over, and quickly he was an anchor there. He served create that space as a retail spot 100%. I would see all these [prospective retail] tenants appear in, look about and cruise by means of the center in a actually aspirational method. And then, all of a sudden, you saw them open up in the Santa Monica Area mall.”

To be fair, not every single idea of Fred Segal’s was an out-of-the-park, landscape-shaping household operate. In 1984, The Times chronicled his hard work to overcome the nuclear arms race by generating a network of info facilities (modeled on his jeans retail store concept) to disseminate information about nuclear weapons alongside with “positive vitality.” And, in 1991, he tried out to start an environmental marketplace that stocked ecologically audio goods like organically developed cotton shirts and photo voltaic-powered garden mowers. Both of those superior concepts but non-starters, so possibly they ended up a little way too visionary for their time.

Fred Segal in a white T-shirt

Fred Segal at a birthday social gathering and charity function in Malibu in 2009. The visionary retailer died on Feb. 25 at age 87.

(Michael Bezjian / WireImage)

Though Segal experienced extended retired at the time of his loss of life, his household remained concerned in a variety of areas of the small business until around the globe rights to the Fred Segal title ended up marketed to New York-based Sandow Media in 2012. (Annie Segal said she and 3 of her four siblings experienced worked in the relatives business enterprise over the yrs.)

That transaction did not incorporate the two retail facilities: the 8100 Melrose Ave. locale, which the family members experienced offered a lot more than a ten years earlier, and the Santa Monica centre, which shut in 2016. (The acquainted Fred Segal signage, which continues to be at the corner of Melrose and Crescent Heights, has been the topic of a bitter authorized dispute involving the brand’s present-day entrepreneurs and the house owners of the home.)

Even so, Fred Segal nevertheless manages to condition the community landscape. Under Sandow’s possession, a 2,000-square-foot Fred Segal retail store opened in the revamped Tom Bradley Intercontinental Terminal at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (total with photo-print ivy) in 2013. Four years later on, a 13,000-sq.-foot flagship bowed on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood and, two decades following that, a Fred Segal outpost returned to the Malibu State Mart. The model was sold to its existing operator, licensing agency International Icons, in 2019.

Segal is survived by his five kids, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, spouse Tina and Tina’s two youngsters and grandson. Segal scions are carrying on his landscape-shaping legacy to a lesser diploma. Daughters Sharon and Nina have a Westlake Promenade boutique named Sharon Segal Nina Segal, and Annie runs a children’s retail outlet in Los Feliz termed the Reckless Unicorn.

When asked what she wished folks to believe of when they noticed her father’s name — be it on a buying bag, gift box or store indication — Annie Segal had two responses.

“The initially phrase that comes to head is happiness,” she stated. “Because what I’ve listened to my complete existence — and what I’ve skilled — is that anytime any individual demonstrates up with a Fred Segal box, they know it is going to be superior. I keep in mind birthday get-togethers when I was a child. It was like gold if there was a Fred Segal box. So I hope persons sense that variety of joyful exhilaration when they see the purple, white and blue Fred Segal [logo]. What I never think people today truly knew about him — the human being — was how significantly he really served, how much he definitely did really like, and how a great deal he desired for there to be worldwide peace and how considerably he focused his lifetime to that.

“I know if he ended up executing this interview proper now, the primary matter that would occur out of his mouth would be to enjoy a person another,” she included. “That was what he needed. And that was the information he needed to get out there.”