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Modular, Experiential, Outdoorsy: LA’s New Best Made Co. ticks all boxes for Millennial-minded retail

There’s a reason the stretch of LA’s La Brea Avenue between Beverly and Third Street is known as Guy’s Gulch. Bonobos, Aether, Fjallraven and Stone Island all now line the street that was once only dotted with expensive furniture stores and art galleries. Today, Best Made Co., the NYC-based outdoor apparel and lifestyle brand, joins the gulch with its second-ever retail location and the first outside NYC. But unlike its neighbours, there’s nothing bro-tiquey about Best Made. The brand is rooted hand-making and doing, and products, from axes, to knives to steel toolboxes, are made to perform.

“Today, the aspiration is much more experiential than financial,” founder and CEO Peter Buchanan Smith told me during a store walk-though yesterday. “People really want to go out and do things that may cost nothing, to just go out and have a campfire. Especially people who work in the city.”

The brand captures the Millennial-minded lifestyle trend WGSN has been tracking from Williamsburg to Tokyo to Silverlake (and everywhere in between)—a return to the outdoors, to camping, and to hiking, even for those consumers who wear suits from 9 to 6, Monday through Friday. Gorpcore has taken over the men’s fashion world, and even interiors brands are embracing camping inspirations, showing modular, collapsible constructions, leather straps and performance fabrics.

These elements are all featured throughout Best Made’s LA store. Wooden crates, made out of American Oak by Amish fixture makers in Indiana, are ratchet-strapped in place, giving the space what Buchanan Smith called a “spirit of impermanence.” The wall fixtures are also temporary—they are totally modular and slide on rails so everything in the store can be moved around. “In very short order, we can clear a whole wall,” said Buchanan Smith.

This flexibility is essential, especially for a store that has both an indoor archery range (yes, you read that right), and an “ax bar,” literally a bar, for hosting workshops on subjects such as blade sharpening and ax restoration. The shop revolves around a center island, also Amish-made out of American Oak – picture a glass and wood display case filled with knives, leather goods and other manly gifts. It reminded me of the old school hardware stores I’ve only seen when visiting my family in Vermont. “We wanted a place that doesn’t have to be transactional,” said Buchanan, “one that is purely experiential, where you actually have to talk to someone to learn about and purchase a product.”

145 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles

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