Tell me how and when everything started.
Julien: We have always been into clothing, street culture, California lifestyle and social distinction. I grew up as a street skateboarder in France during the 90’s influenced by the California lifestyle, and hip hop street art. Skateboarding is a lot about mode and cycle. I deciphered all these socio-cultural facts in an urban sociology thesis in France and then a sociology book.
Agathe: I was, and still am, more into art, graffiti, mass media reflections but also really interested in fashion and the will to be and to look different, original. I have read fashion magazines since I was teenager. I started to make and customize some of my clothes when I was in high school because I couldn’t find what I had in mind in stores. When you have a specific idea sometimes you have make it real, make it happens.
Julien: After a few peregrinations around the world for academic contracts as professor and researcher, we decided to start something we always wanted in Southern California. Influenced by our academic background, sociology and cultural studies, we decided to create a concept store based on the will to be different and to encourage distinctions. That’s the idea of our boutique – Unlabeled.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a business owner?
Julien: It was not necessary to be a business owner. It’s was more about enterprising. Sometimes you want to create something, you write a book that you would love to read, you want to offer to your community clothes that you want to wear. That’s our actual position. We are here to let people choose something different than products you can find in big stores with no personalities. We offer something that we think is great. We are here to share our conception of style and give another choice.
Agathe: The brands we are carrying are from different parts of the world, Sweden, England, Australia and of course California. We are alone in this area to offer those great products. We offer a mix of influences.
Where do you get your inspiration for your shop?
It comes from the little boutique we have in France and the street art and skateboarding culture.
The shop should reflect what we are and what we want to offer to our customer. We try to make it original, clean and clear.
The inspiration comes from our Unlabeled concept, the labeling theory from sociology. The society puts on us label to create difference and sometimes even stigmatization. We encourage the opposite situation. We want to offer something different that can fit for all kind of customers according there age, sex, gender and budget.
It’s also a no border mindset because we carry clothes and shoes designed in Europe, in Australia and of course in Southern California.
What advice would you give someone considering a similar path?
Julien: It’s really difficult to give advice or directions. It’s an adventure with a lot of uncertainty. To make something you think is good for your community, something you can be pride of.
Agathe: You have to keep a strong mind because sometimes you can feel hopeless and discouraged. The beginning is not an easy thing. You have to be prepared for that, and keep doing what you believe in. It’s such a reward when a customer is really enthusiastic about your boutique.
What makes your shop unique?
Julien: Our identity is what we think and what we offer here. I suppose there are few boutiques owned by French people with the same kind of concept store. Like I said we are here to offer something different in the spirit of a French or European boutique: to counsel, to find ways to satisfy our customers and above all make them feel happy to be who they are.
Agathe: We choose every product according to their design, style, quality and price. In a world where the value notion is disappearing for low quality, wrong fit, two times washable clothes, we try to sell aesthetic products, comfortable because soft and durable. We are convinced that our products will make fell our customers better.
How would you describe your personal style?
Julien: Multiples according the situation, the context, the people. At the shop I want to be clean and casual in the same spirit as our products. Above all I don’t want to look like every one and I choose my clothes to match with the situation. There is a message in your clothes and in your body language. Mine generally is simple, clean, distinguish and original.
Agathe: It depends on the situation. Sometimes I like to be really feminine with heels and 60‘s inspiration dress, lipstick and the next day I feels more “ rock” and I will wear black boots and muscle tee and skinny jean. I love to play with the style and have a little something that will make the difference to the total look. I’m usually a fan of “less is more”. Like Coco Chanel said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. I like to keep it simple.
What’s next for your company?
Julien: We would like to develop our products with the same concept than the brands we carry: casual style and quality. We started with a tank top and a t-shirt for women designed by Agathe and produced here.
Agathe: We would love to have some collaboration with artists. They could use our boutique to show their artworks and maybe work on other support like a tee-shirt and of course discover more young brands. They are plenty of young talented stylists.
Thanks to Julien & Agathe of UNLABELED for sharing their story.
You can visit www.unlabeledshop.com for more info!