Fred Segal has a lot. He was a family man, a passionate publisher, a denim fashion pioneer, a Los Angeles fashion champion, and a visionary landlord who enthusiastically embraced the store-in-store format and the idea of a retail experience long before any of these terms. applied. created.
More than anything else, the Chicago-born entrepreneur who grew up in LA helped shape the look and feel of the retail landscape in Southern California in ways few others have. Along the way, she became a rock star retailer known well beyond its ivy-covered central walls thanks to celebrity pop-ins (Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears, Diana Ross and The Beatles, to name a few) and silver-screen screams in films including ” Clueless “,” Legally Blonde “, and” Less Than Zero “.
Segal died Thursday at the age of 87 from complications of a stroke.
Overall, what put Segal on the fashion map – before he started fundamentally redrawing the map – was adding a bit of fashion flair to his humble blue jeans. His eureka moment came in 1960. While working as a sales manager at HIS Sportswear, Segal realized that denim that would normally sell for $ 3.98 could go up to $ 19.95 with a few tweaks.
“When she started, it was all just Lee and Levi’s jeans, and they were just work jeans,” Annie Segal’s daughter told The Times. “He was the first person to lower his belt to create hip-hugging jeans. In my opinion, he was the first to decorate jeans with rhinestones. She has a rhinestone man in place. It happened in the 1960’s. Nobody does that. “
In 1961, Segal opened his first store, a 300-square-foot area on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, which not only started the first wave of designer denim mania but also pioneered the “jeans bar,” a concept that has been copied by retailers around the world. In 1965, having overstepped the space, he moved to the corner of Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard, at that time a completely residential neighborhood. By buying property after property, he compiled what would eventually become the retail hub of 29,000 square feet of parking lots, 102 parking lots that would initiate the transformation of the stretch of Melrose into the thoroughfare of the shops it is today.
It was there that Segal began experimenting with the then-new shop-in-shop concept, first tapping employees to take over a different area within the shop, then recruiting other retailers (curators of SoCal hottie Ron Robinson and Ron Herman among them) to fill the rabbit’s space, make sure each one complements the other. That, according to retail developer Rick Caruso, is part of Fred Segal’s magic touch.
“He had the vision to create this space with all the energy and joy around it,” Caruso told The Times. “It’s about mixing various categories that people have never done before. It’s about connecting the inside and the outside. And that is a collection of different vendors. … What happened in retail before Fred was a small mall with drugstores and supermarkets or dry cleaners, or a big mall that had a typical anchor shop that was just bland and boring. And the scale of what Fred was doing was clever. He understood the importance of the human scale – that people have to feel comfortable in a space and make it small enough that there is energy to it and it feels a little claustrophobic and not so big that you get lost in it. Fred’s genius is knowing what people like and will respond to and say. “
Caruso said Segal’s influence can be seen in several of his own works. “I first met Fred 30 years ago at the start of my own career,” he said. “And if you look at some of my previous projects – Promenade in Westlake and generally at Calabasas – the retail mix I make out there inspired by Fred. At that time, these suburban centers had only markets, drugstores and dry cleaners. In Westlake, we have markets and dry cleaners, but we also have bookstores, cinemas, restaurants, fashion; we cover all categories. It was inspired by Fred. “
In 1973, Segal turned his attention to a dilapidated 1920s motel turned apartment complex just off the Pacific Coast Highway, creating the Malibu Country Mart, which officially opened two years later – with the Fred Segal boutique as part of it. In 1980, he developed another boutique group across the street. The shopping complex remains the center of the community to this day.
“At the time, it was very rural out there that people rode horses,” said Annie Segal. “How could he have thought it could be a successful shopping mall I don’t know, but he brought in other stores – La Scala is one of them, Jackie’s Skin Waves is another. And he put the playground in the middle so that we kids could play and work. Family is very, very important to him. “
By the early 1980s, Segal had moved away from the retail side of the business (a 1984 Los Angeles Times article reported that he was “selling business to old friends”) but remained a visionary landlord, pioneering the third retail lightning strike: 1985 opening of the Santa outpost Monica Fred Segal on a former skating rink, complete with an indoor playground and mom-and-me classes.
Jeannine Braden, who ran Fred Segal Flair’s shop there from 1992 to 2009 (now she is the creative director of a contemporary women’s label based in LA Outstanding), grew up near Venice. He said the arrival of Fred Segal’s center triggered a big change in the neighborhood.
“When he started Santa Monica, there was nothing around him, and suddenly he was the news anchor there. He helped define the area as a 100% retail destination. I will see all of this [prospective retail] tenants walk in, look around, and explore the city center in very aspiring ways. Then, all of a sudden, you see them opening in the Santa Monica Place mall. “
To be fair, not all ideas about Fred Segal are home runs outside the garden that make up the landscape. In 1984, The Times noted its efforts to combat the nuclear arms race by creating a network of information centers (following its jeans shop concept) to disseminate information about nuclear weapons along with “positive energy”. And, in 1991, he tried to launch an environmental marketplace that housed eco-friendly products such as organically grown cotton shirts and solar powered lawn mowers. Both of them are great ideas but not newbies, so maybe they were too visionary for their timing.
Although Segal had long retired at the time of his death, his family remained involved in various aspects of the business until worldwide rights to Fred Segal’s name were sold to New York-based Sandow Media in 2012. (Annie Segal said she and three of her four siblings had worked in the family business for many years.)
The deal excludes two retail centers: the 8100 Melrose Ave. location, which had been sold by the family more than a decade earlier, and the Santa Monica center, which closed in 2016. (The familiar Fred Segal signboard remains on the corner of Melrose. and Crescent Heights, have been the subject of a bitter legal dispute between the current trademark and the property owner.)
Even so, Fred Segal still managed to shape the local landscape. Under Sandow’s ownership, a 2,000-square-foot Fred Segal store opened in the refurbished Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (complete with photo-printed ivy) in 2013. Four years later, a 13,000-square-foot store the main ship bent down on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood and, two years after that, outpost Fred Segal returned to the Malibu Country Mart. The brand sold to its current owner, Global Icons licensing firm, in 2019.
Segal is survived by his five children, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, Tina’s wife and two children and Tina’s grandson. Segal stems carry the inheritance that makes up the landscape to a lesser degree. Princess Sharon and Nina own a boutique called Westlake Promenade Sharon Segal Nina Segal, and Annie runs a children’s store in Los Feliz named The reckless unicorn.
When asked what she wants people to think when they see her father’s name – be it on a shopping bag, gift box or shop sign – Annie Segal has two answers.
“The first word that comes to mind is happiness,” he said. “Because what I’ve heard all my life – and what I’ve been through – is that whenever someone shows up with a Fred Segal box, they know it’s going to be okay. I remember birthday parties when I was a kid. It’s like gold if there is a Fred Segal box. So I hope people feel that kind of joy when they see the red, white and blue Fred Segal [logo]. What I think people don’t really know about him – human – is how much he really helps, how much he really loves, and how much he wants global peace and how much he dedicates his life to it. .
“I know if he were to do this interview now, the main thing that would come out of his mouth was to love each other,” he added. “That’s what he wants. And that’s the message he wants to get there. “
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