LOS ANGELES — For the past five years British clothing and accessories venture Wolf & Badger has had only one U.S. store, located in New York’s SoHo district.
But that just changed. The premium multibrand retailer and online concern opened its first West Coast store in West Hollywood on Friday with a carefully selected collection of clothing, accessories, home wares and shoes from different brands from the U.S., U.K. and Europe.
Wolf & Badger’s search for a Los Angeles-area location started more than two years ago but that little thing known as the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way, said George Graham, the company’s chief executive officer. “Last summer we found this spot, and we were really delighted with the location.”
That location is at 8500 Melrose Avenue, which used to house a Bluemercury store, is in a prime shopping area with Rag & Bone New York across the street and a large The Real Real luxury consignment store and café next door. A few blocks down the road is the Beverly Center shopping center.
The U.S. has become the top market for Wolf & Badger’s online sales, which make up 98 percent of its business. New York is the top U.S. sales area, but Los Angeles comes in second. “Last year our U.S. sales grew 225 percent to $27.7 million,” Graham said. “We’ve seen a lot of traction in this market.”
The recently opened 1,600-square-foot space has a modern, clean interior design that also incorporates sustainable materials for its floors and countertops and other areas.
In the front are rows of jewelry cases, located next to shelves of housewares, including rows of pillows and porcelain teapots with matching teacups.
A bank of curated posters lines one wall and stationery is evenly placed on a countertop. Hats and bags make up another section. About 20 independent brands of men’s and women’s clothing hang on the racks but are rotated on a regular basis.
“We sell to a customer who appreciates high-quality, stylish products from brands that they might not immediately be familiar with but are excited to discover,” Graham said.
Case in point are brands including Shokan 28 from the U.S., Uskees from Britain and Saz Mifsud from Malta.
Price points for menswear range from about $100 to $300 while womenswear ranges from $200 to $400. Jewelry can go up to $5,000.
About 70 percent of Wolf & Badger’s customers are women who fall between the ages of 25 to 45. “We have fashion students who are our customers, and we have hedge-fund managers,” Graham said. “I think the buying behavior of people goes far beyond their age and gender.”
The company’s top-selling category right now is women’s dresses. During the pandemic, purchases centered around comfort items such as slippers, loungewear and house goods.
The selection of merchandise comes from small independent brands that have some sustainable element to their makeup and pay a fair wage. This is in keeping with Wolf & Badger’s goal to sell sustainable items, which helped the retailer get a B Corp certification last year.
“All the brands get vetted against 15 sustainability guarantees we have listed on our website,” said Magdalene Barclay, Wolf & Badger’s vice president of content and sustainability. “We try to give the brands guidance on how they can achieve all the different guarantees.”
Wolf & Badger’s retail business is a marketplace format. The company doesn’t buy any inventory but supplies a space and sales staff for labels to show their collections in exchange for paying a certain percentage of sales to Wolf & Badger.
Wolf & Badger was launched in 2010 by Graham and his brother Henry, who is the company’s chief creative officer. It started out when the two were living together and got bored with the shopping environment of tried-and-true brands that weren’t that special.
“Everything was so samey, samey,” said George Graham, who was a strategy consultant for PricewaterhouseCooper at the time while his brother was designing jewelry. “We also knew designers who had amazing products that we felt people should know about and should be able to find in stores.”
The siblings, whose nicknames are Wolf and Badger, opened a brick-and-mortar store in London’s Notting Hill, and later a second store in Mayfair. In the last five years they pivoted to become an online marketplace that carries 2,000 brands with 4 million visitors a month, Graham said.
The two London stores have been consolidated into one 12,000-square-foot outpost with a restaurant in Kings Cross, near Google’s headquarters.
Los Angeles is the third store worldwide for the growing company. But there will be more. Wolf & Badger sees strong demand for its products in Texas and Florida, which means Dallas, Houston and Miami are on their retail radar.
“We also have a big following in places like Washington, D.C., and Chicago,” Graham said. “We are looking at the best possible places to provide better service to our existing customers.”