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From the laissez-faire beaches of Venice to the hipster neighborhood of Los Feliz, Los Angeles was awash in FNO festivities last night, not to mention champagne.
John Fluevog, who stopped by L.A. on the way to San Francisco for the opening of his new store in Union Square, spent time mingling with customers at his Melrose Avenue boutique over drinks as he signed shoes and sketched personalized images on plastic plates for fans. And while Fluevog, who celebrates his 40th year in the shoe business this year, said his label is undergoing a transformation, he’s enjoying himself more than ever. “The brand is changing, new customers are finding us, [and] my [core] customer is getting older with me,” he said. “I’m having more fun than I ever have.”
At Fred Segal Feet, owner Stanley Silver said events like FNO are just what was needed to reintroduce the store to a demographic that may have fallen through the cracks during the recession. “This whole [shopping] complex has missed a generation of customers,” he said, referring to stores along Melrose Avenue. “For older customers, we’re an institution, but for younger people, they may not know we’re here, even though we’ve been here for 40 years. We have events like this one once a month now. It’s about creating new energy.” Silver’s new approach includes stocking a wider range of price points that all offer optimal fashion. “We might not get the dollars [we used to due to lower price points], but we sure do the units,” he said.
At Diavolina, Velvet Angels CEO Jeff Yarchever said that beyond FNO, he was also preparing to open a new retail store in Las Vegas. “It’s happening in about four weeks, so it’s soon,” he said. For her part, Evelyn Ungvari, buyer and part owner of the boutique, said she sees a change in shopping habits among customers, and the worst of the economic crisis may be over, but that doesn’t mean business will get easier. “I feel like people are out more,” she said. “They’re not buying as much as they did before, but they’re buying key pieces, and those tend to be the more expensive ones.”