The guys behind Aether have made a brand that is a confluence of the Los Angeles beach, mountain, and desert interaction, one that can suit you for any combination of outdoorsy activity. They make jackets to hike and shorts to swim in and lightweight shirts to keep you cool. Everything has an obvious reflection of their interests in the natural opportunities in Southern California have afforded us. But do locals get super outdoorsy all the time? Not really, at least compared to granola and tree trunks San Franciscans. This is why the brand decided to open up their first permanent storefront up North instead of locally. The resulting shop is AETHERsf and it is a steely, industrial, cool concept that will definitely has us jealous it wasn’t built out in Venice.
The store is located in San Francisco’s yuppie coolborhood Hayes Valley and is easily distinguished from everything else around it because the building is three giant shipping containers precariously stacked atop of each other like potentially toppling blocks. Despite being so industrial sounding, the store has a great indoor/outdoor interaction thanks to giant glass panelings and a huge entry door to welcome in customers in addition to sunshine and other natural elements. The space mainly works in the bottom two containers: the bottom floor is lined with coats while the upstairs has a little Eames chaired overlook of Hayes Street. A surprising note is how meticulous and sparse the space is, more like being atop of a foggy mountaintop more than anything else. Unlike the moving and bustling and compacted AETHERstream, these huge boxes meditate on the brand’s minimalism.
One defining aspect of the store is the long dry cleaning like conveyor belt that goes from the entry all the way to the topmost box and is only used for storing extra wares via the belt system. It’s a dramatic attraction and that tempts you to ask for a bigger sized something so you can get them to use it. We didn’t get to see it while we were in the store but, dang, is it pretty wild to look at. Another aspect of the store is the super steep little staircase that takes you up to the aforementioned Eames chair. They can be stressful to climb but they are proof of smart usage of space.
Designer Thierry Gaugain came up with the concept and execution of the space and is actually the same person who did the AETHERstream as well. As you can tell, Aether is very careful about their looks and provide very specific ways for their clothes to be presented. While we are a bit bummed we don’t have our own freighted retail concept, there is some hope for dramatic shopping as the Melrose based Outpost is under construction for all of August with the caveat that “big changes are afoot.” Hmm…perhaps they are stuffing a train care inside of the space for people to shop in? Who knows but we will definitely be on the lookout. If you are in SF, definitely check out this LA born shopping zone. It’s totally wild.