How Fred Segal’s retail and fashion vision changed L.A.


Fred Segal was many points. He was a relatives male, a passionate peacenik, a style denim pioneer, a winner of Los Angeles fashion, and a visionary landlord who enthusiastically embraced both equally the store-in-store format and the idea of experiential retail prolonged right before possibly of these conditions was coined.

Much more than something, the Chicago-born, L.A.-lifted businessman aided shape the glimpse and experience of the retail landscape in Southern California in a way handful of many others have. Along the way, he grew to become a rock-star retailer acknowledged far beyond his centers’ legendary ivy-protected walls thanks to superstar pop-ins (Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears, Diana Ross and the Beatles, to name just a number of) and silver-display shoutouts in movies like “Clueless,” “Legally Blonde” and “Less Than Zero.”

Segal died Thursday at 87 from difficulties from a stroke.

By all accounts, what set Segal on the style map — right before he set about fundamentally redrawing that map — was adding a sprint of manner flair to the humble pair of blue jeans. His eureka minute came in 1960. Whilst doing the job as a profits manager at HIS Sportswear, Segal understood that denim that usually retailed for $3.98 could fetch $19.95 with a small tweaking.

“When he begun, it was all just Lee jeans and Levi’s, and they have been just do the job jeans,” daughter Annie Segal informed The Instances. “He was the to start with person to reduce the waistband to create a hip-hugger jean. He was the initially person, I think, to embellish jeans with rhinestones. He experienced an onsite rhinestone guy. That was in the 1960s. No just one was executing that.”

In 1961, Segal opened his first retailer, a 300-sq.-foot house 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 notion that has been copied by suppliers all-around the globe. In 1965, possessing outgrown that space, he relocated to the corner of Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard, which at the time was an completely household community. By purchasing up assets immediately after residence, he cobbled alongside one another what would sooner or later be a 29,000-sq.-foot, 102-parking-place retail centre that would contact off the transformation of that stretch of Melrose into the store-loaded thoroughfare it is today.

It was there that Segal started to experiment with the then-novel store-in-store thought, 1st tapping employees to just take cost of various spots in just the store, later on recruiting other merchants (curators of SoCal neat Ron Robinson and Ron Herman amongst them) to fill the rabbit warren of spaces, producing confident each and every complemented the other people. That, in accordance to retail developer Rick Caruso, was aspect of the Fred Segal magic touch.

“He had the eyesight to build this house with all this power and enjoyment all over it,” Caruso explained to The Times. “It was about mixing unique groups collectively that people today experienced under no circumstances accomplished. It was about connecting the within and the outside. And it was the collection of distinctive sellers. … What was going on in retail right before Fred was either a strip mall with a drugstore and a grocery store or a dry cleaners, or major malls going up that had common anchor retailers that ended up just bland and monotonous. And the scale of what Fred did was so wise. He comprehended the great importance of a human scale — that persons need to sense relaxed in a place and have it be little adequate that there is an vitality to it and it feels a very little bit crowded and not so massive that you get dropped in it. Fred’s genius was realizing what folks appreciated and would answer to and providing on it.”

Caruso explained Segal’s influence could be observed in some of his have get the job done. “I initially satisfied Fred 30 several years ago at the beginning of my individual profession,” he claimed. “And if you choose a appear at some of my before assignments — the Promenade at Westlake and the Commons at Calabasas — the mix of suppliers that I put together out there were being motivated by Fred. At the time, these suburban centers literally just had a industry, a drugstore and a dry cleaner. In Westlake, we experienced the marketplace and dry cleaner, but we also had a bookstore, a motion picture theater, dining establishments, vogue we covered all types. That was inspired by Fred.”

The Fred Segal at Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard opened in 1965. The web site, photographed in 2000, grew from a single retailer to a retail heart encompassing 29,000 sq. ft.

(Iris Schneider / Los Angeles Times)

In 1973, Segal turned his focus to a ramshackle 1920s-era motel-turned-condominium-advanced just off Pacific Coast Highway, developing the Malibu Nation Mart, which would officially open up two a long time later on — with a Fred Segal boutique in the blend. In 1980, he formulated a further cluster of boutiques throughout the street. The buying elaborate stays a local community hub to this working day.

“At the time, it was so region out there that persons were being using up on horses,” Annie Segal claimed. “How on earth he thought that could be a profitable searching center I have no notion, but he brought in other outlets — La Scala was a single, Jackie’s Leather Waves was one more. And he put that playground in the middle so we, his kids, could perform even though he was doing work. Spouse and children was extremely, incredibly critical to him.”

By the early 1980s, Segal had moved on from the retail aspect of the business (a 1984 Los Angeles Situations posting noted he “sold the 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 previous skating rink, total with an indoor playground and mommy-and-me classes.

Jeannine Braden, who ran the Fred Segal Aptitude keep there from 1992 to 2009 (she’s now the artistic director of L.A.-centered women’s up to date label Le Superbe), grew up in close by Venice. She claimed the arrival of the Fred Segal center touched off big adjustments in that neighborhood.

“When he begun Santa Monica, there was nothing at all all around, and instantly he was an anchor there. He aided build that area as a retail spot 100%. I would see all these [prospective retail] tenants appear in, search close to and cruise as a result of the middle in a actually aspirational way. And then, all of a unexpected, you observed them open up in the Santa Monica Area shopping mall.”

To be reasonable, not every strategy of Fred Segal’s was an out-of-the-park, landscape-shaping residence operate. In 1984, The Times chronicled his effort to overcome the nuclear arms race by developing a community of information centers (modeled on his denims store principle) to disseminate information about nuclear weapons along with “positive power.” And, in 1991, he tried using to start an environmental marketplace that stocked ecologically audio products and solutions like organically grown cotton shirts and solar-driven garden mowers. Both good tips but non-starters, so possibly they have been a little much too visionary for their time.

Fred Segal in a white T-shirt

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

(Michael Bezjian / WireImage)

Although Segal experienced extensive retired at the time of his death, his spouse and children remained associated in different factors of the business until throughout the world rights to the Fred Segal name were offered to New York-primarily based Sandow Media in 2012. (Annie Segal reported she and 3 of her 4 siblings had labored in the family members business over the years.)

That transaction did not incorporate the two retail facilities: the 8100 Melrose Ave. place, which the family members experienced sold extra than a ten years earlier, and the Santa Monica center, which shut in 2016. (The familiar Fred Segal signage, which remains at the corner of Melrose and Crescent Heights, has been the subject matter of a bitter lawful dispute among the brand’s present-day owners and the owners of the house.)

Even so, Fred Segal continue to manages to form the nearby landscape. Under Sandow’s ownership, a 2,000-sq.-foot Fred Segal retail store opened in the revamped Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Intercontinental Airport (full with picture-print ivy) in 2013. 4 a long time later, a 13,000-sq.-foot flagship bowed on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood and, two a long time just after that, a Fred Segal outpost returned to the Malibu Country Mart. The model was sold to its existing owner, licensing agency World wide Icons, in 2019.

Segal is survived by his 5 small children, 10 grandchildren, two wonderful-grandchildren, wife Tina and Tina’s two small children and grandson. Segal scions are carrying on his landscape-shaping legacy to a lesser diploma. Daughters Sharon and Nina have a Westlake Promenade boutique referred to as Sharon Segal Nina Segal, and Annie runs a children’s store in Los Feliz called the Reckless Unicorn.

When asked what she wanted persons to feel of when they noticed her father’s title — be it on a shopping bag, present box or keep indicator — Annie Segal had two responses.

“The very first phrase that comes to brain is happiness,” she explained. “Because what I’ve listened to my entire life — and what I have seasoned — is that anytime somebody demonstrates up with a Fred Segal box, they know it’s going to be excellent. I try to remember birthday parties when I was a kid. It was like gold if there was a Fred Segal box. So I hope individuals feel that variety of joyful enjoyment when they see the purple, white and blue Fred Segal [logo]. What I really don’t assume folks genuinely knew about him — the human currently being — was how a lot he actually assisted, how significantly he genuinely did really like, and how substantially he desired for there to be global peace and how a great deal he committed his lifetime to that.

“I know if he were being accomplishing this interview correct now, the major thing that would come out of his mouth would be to enjoy just one a further,” she additional. “That was what he required. And that was the information he needed to get out there.”





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