Gentle Monster’s Downtown Los Angeles flagship is a special holistic experience, with kinetic works, nature-focused details, and exotic finishes guiding visitors through its space. The eyewear brand is not only known for how it sells its collections of contemporary frames and sunglasses online, but for its curated retail experience where products are showcased between and within artwork.
Whitewaller spoke with David Kim, the director of customer experience at Gentle Monster, to hear more about its Downtown L.A. space and what he enjoys about the neighborhood.
WHITEWALLER: Can you describe Gentle Monster’s Los Angeles store for us?
DAVID KIM: Our L.A. flagship was designed to tell a story—a journey through the process of harvesting rice. Quite literally, we divided the space into scenes, to depict some of the larger phases of harvesting crops. We started with the paddy fields, with kinetic scarecrows protecting the crop. The store then takes you past the ripened rice, tractors emulating fixtures, and eventually to what you could call the centerpiece of the store. Appropriately named “Harvest,” our Los Angeles location brought a bit of nature and Zen to the otherwise busy and somewhat overlooked part of the city. From the rich mixture of exotic finishes with industrial steel to elements of nature, the L.A. space brings an environment and mood that you won’t find anywhere else. I believe that creates a sentiment, a value toward the brand, and the specific memory of the store that is forever attached to your product.
This past year, the L.A. store was refreshed with a new front room, set in a future world with mechanically evolved deer wandering the old rice field. Adding a note of future to the previously urban Zen, creating another unique experience for everyone—whether you’re new to the brand or returning—the experience of walking through the scenes in any Gentle Monster store is truly memorable.
WW: Tell us a bit about the most recent Gentle Monster collection.
DK: Our 2020 collection focuses on designing future retro. A core effort in this year’s release was trying to expand our design philosophy to incorporate more styles and intentions, playing with size, shapes, and colors, while maintaining signature curvature and craftsmanship. For this year, instead of focusing on a main collection, we’re treating collections more like capsule drops, with drops scheduled about four weeks apart, adding new colorways and styles with each capsule. Mixed within will be project capsules that you will definitely want to follow.
WW: Although you no longer live in L.A., where do you recommend visitors spend their time?
DK: I’ve worked in the Downtown area for the last five to six years, and I have to say that I now prefer it to any other part of the city. Venice or WeHo can’t offer me what Downtown does anymore. Everything is within a short walk away. I can’t think of anywhere else with so much diversity, along with culture, all within a few blocks’ radius. Downtown is continually changing, and so fast. It’s hard to keep up with everything coming in, but to me, Ninth and Broadway will always feel like home.
I frequent the Ace Hotel—park at their valet, grab an avocado toast at their lobby café, walk the shops on Broadway and Hill, visit the Flower Market, take a trip to MedMen, and return to the Ace for a drink at the rooftop bar.