Retail LA: Alethea Spectacle // Interview with Alexx Shaw

There's a lot of small businesses in Los Angeles, am I right? However, they are often overlooked simply due to the size of Southern California. There's so much to take in, but so little time. Alethea Spectacle is a store located in Los Angeles, on Melrose Ave. The concept of the store is unique and truly one of a kind, showcasing designers from all over the place on their own brand, all while staying cohesive and true to it's aesthetic. Upon walking in, I felt a great sense of vintage vibes. The white brick walls, the chandeliers, the acoustic music playing. Alethea Spectacle is an experience not worth missing. They offer A+ customer service, and are willing to make an appointment with you to get you what you want. 

Their website states, "Alethea Spectacle is the assimilation of fine art and fashion. It consists of up-and-coming designers who are trying to make their mark in the fashion world, and are given the opportunity to produce a collection seen in a brick-and-mortar setting under their own name. Each designer is hand picked and encouraged to create pieces that showcase their talents and style while the store helps to launch them as a brand. Each design in the store is limited to a quantity of six handmade, U.S. produced items which will never be reproduced once they are sold. In this sense, each garment acts as a piece of wearable fine art that only increases in value as the designer's fame develops."

 I got the chance to interview the owner and creator, Alexx Shaw. She and the manager of the store, Josh, sat down with me to answer a few questions about Alethea Spectacle. 

Alethea Spectacle is located at 7811 Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. You can call them at 323-424-3190, or find more about them here. 

Alex Shaww, Owner and Creator

What was your general vision when creating Alethea Spectacle and how is it different from other stores?

I was in the art world for ten years and I managed artists. I realized designers had no ability to be showcased under their own brand unless they worked with a major fashion house for years. I thought that I could do the same exact thing I did in the art world except for designers. We're the only clothing store in the US that takes up and coming designers under their own brand. We don't limit their creative inspiration, although I do have to approve of it. It gives the designers a platform to sell to bigger stores once they leave here.

In terms of starting a business, how was that for you? Do you have any advice?

Starting a business is horrible! (laughs) It's a lot. Especially in Los Angeles, it's the most unfriendly small business city ever, especially when it comes to fashion. Because it was my first store, a lot of places wouldn't rent to me. On top of that, there's just so many random fees you wouldn't expect. LA is not a fashion city, it's a shopping city. I originally wanted to open the store in NYC, but the rent was so astronomically high. Now if you're a designer and you want to break into the fashion world, get someone to represent you. It's much easier to go into pre-established places and sell yourself. Sell online, reach out to bloggers and press, and network as much as possible. 

Is there a certain aesthetic you are trying to put forth in your designers?

I take designers from all walks of life. Avant-garde designers, costume designers, intimate designers, and so forth. As long as they have a vintage aesthetic mixed with a little bit of rock-n-roll. As long as I can view it as a piece of fine art or a sellable garment that remains cohesive, it works. 

What's your fashion sense like? Who are some of your favorite designers in general?
The super-cute packaging.

I always view my fashion sense as 1920s to 1950s and then I add a lot of leather, studs, boots and such. I love vintage everything, but it's really hard to wear. Designers that I love are Bottega Veneta, Alexander Wang, and Vince. Honestly, I can find stuff to buy anywhere.

Where do you see the future of Alethea Spectacle?

I'll tell you what I'd like to happen. I hope we can expand to different cities in the US, with the designers rotating throughout the stores. Our designers range from everywhere from Philly, to New York to North Carolina. But unless you live in LA, you don't really get to see it. I want people everywhere to be able to see it and try it on in person, because theres only limited pieces. That's what I hope for.