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15 Twenty refers to the street number 1520, on N. Cahuenga Blvd and is in a nutshell, a ‘concept shopping mall’ owned by Urban Outfitters.  After a bit of research, it seems there has been a lot of hype about it over on LA.Racked.  Which then made me think we need a London equivalent of to drum up similar excitement about London retail ventures and then my trail of thought landed on glumly Westfield.  The gigantic mall that has landed in Shepherds.  A.K.A. The Last Place on Earth Where I Would Go To Shop.

Going back to UO’s Space 15 Twenty, the idea is that Urban Outfitters sits side by side next to specially picked out vendors, complimenting them and creating a space that, I suppose, is unashmedly contrived.  You have Free People, What Comes Around Goes Around, indie bookstore and gallery space TV Books, arts and architecture bookstore Hennessy and Ingalls and to round it off, a streetwear element from Alife.  In addition, to distinguish the UO store from other ones, they have set up a pop-up store space that is currently playing host to Samantha Pleet.

Yes, ok, so it’s a mall owned by a multi-national chain with oodles of money and clever marketing, but I think the concept is an admirable one – like fantasy high streets where you dream up all your favourite stores bunged onto one street. This kind of curated concept mall is catering to a very specific customer.  The aesthetics and the contents have been carefully considered to appeal to that customer; it isn’t standard mall affair.

Things like photobooths to play with, galleries, in-store band/DJ events and all things lo-fi only serve to create that desired ‘look’.  I’m not saying the way to my heart is through exposed brick and staff wearing vintage t-shirts… but I do know that specific shopping environments make the experience far more pleasant for me.

I also think with different twists and with different stores, this is something that can translate very well in other cities.  Kingly Court, a semi-outdoors mall on Carnaby Street is of this ‘curated mall’ ilk but with the addition of other elements other than fashion stores, some very clever shopping one-stop-drops could exist that don’t resemble Westfield.