The Aussies Are Coming: Contemporary Retailer BNKR Posts Up in DTLA

By MEGAN LABER
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With regard to fashion, if the Land Down Under hasn’t been on your radar, we would question your commitment to Instagram and street-style roundups. Thanks to their minimalist color pallets and trend-forward, blogger-friendly silhouettes, Australian brands have become ubiquitous within the women’s contemporary and lifestyle markets.

By marrying clean lines and trendy proportions with (measured) wearability, Australian multi-brand retailer BNKR is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Think figure-flattering dresses, crop tops, and culottes made with high-quality fabric in subdued, relevant hues. Throw in thoughtful, branded content, and you’ve got a global phenomenon.

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“I don’t know any other retailers that are vertically multi-branded,” says Melanie Flintoft, founder of BNKR and overseer of all creative work put out by the company. “We’re the organic source of the brand. Each [designer’s piece] does something different in a girl’s wardrobe. They don’t cannibalize each other or crossover too much. You should be able to shop the floor and find everything you need.”

The floor Flintoft is referring to is not a metaphorical one. The store has done so well in the US, the brand will be opening their first brick and mortar on the corner of Broadway and 9th Street in downtown Los Angeles, one of the most coveted wedges of the neighborhood block. After doubling sales monthly at their Robertson pop-up shop, Flintoft became aware just how responsive the LA woman is to the Australian aesthetic.

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Much like how Rag & Bone, Alice and Olivia, Theory, and Helmut Lang have a similar parent investor, BNKR umbrellas The Fifth, C/MEO COLLECTIVE, Keepsake, Finders Keepers, and JAGGAR Footwear (launching 2016)—all Aussie-based brands. While their collective aesthetic is more cohesive than the aforementioned, the brands’ general direction varies, and each will be well represented in the 6,800-square-foot store opening this fall.

“We feel like the Ace [Hotel] will definitely bring the customer. Every time we go downtown, there is a new shop, coffee place, or exciting new business. Now that people are searching for BNKR online and there is that growth, we feel like we will bring a lot of value to the neighborhood,” Flintoft says.

The fashion-forward LA woman is a new type of shopper downtown hasn’t seen much of in the past few decades. An Aussie store might be the best thing to attract her to the area, though—she has more than a few commonalities with the Sydney or Melbourne girl.

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“I think the LA woman, especially in downtown, is our customer. The bohemian floral dressing with rock ‘n’ roll flares has always been in LA, but I think there is a changing customer that is desperately looking for a decently accessible runway look that is more feminine and structured, which is what we do really well,” says Flintoft.

Representing what the BNKR crew calls a “girl gang,” the four house brands will allow the urbanite with an affinity for structure, the party girl looking for micro mini frocks, and the art-inspired capitol “F” fashion girl to all come together and enjoy retail therapy in one location. While the crossing of the pond typically signals intent toward world domination, Flintoft says a more curated and slow fashion approach is the path she wants the company to take.

“I guess we don’t want to be everywhere,” Flintoft says. “We want to stay exclusive and we don’t want to be too accessible. The opportunity is there and it’s tempting to be everywhere as soon as possible, but I feel like you lose that uniqueness. I’d like to keep the brands slightly more personal.”

Joining the likes of Acne Studios, Aesop, Oak, A.P.C. and Urban Outfitters in their new location, BNKR’s choice to stay internationally local signals.

 

BNKR will be located at 901 S. Broadway, 90015

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