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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
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Keeping Up With the Segals

Fred Segal has been an iconic Melrose Avenue luxury retailer for more than half a century, and the company hadn’t ventured far from those roots for years until a recent expansion. Now, the daughters of the retailer’s namesake founder are bringing a little bit of that Westside touch to the Conejo Valley and the upscale Promenade at Westlake Village. The sisters are expanding their boutique, The Closet, into the mall after spending nearly 20 years operating Fred Segal shops. But don’t expect to see the Fred Segal name, or its distinctive blue-and-red lettering surrounded by ivy. “This has everything to do with Fred Segal because he’s our dad, but it has nothing to do with Fred Segal the store,” said Nina Segal, 44, as she and her elder sister, Sharon Segal, 47, sat in their Westlake Village office and discussed their venture. “The plan is to take what we’ve learned and our successes that we had at Fred Segal and to build upon those,” Sharon added. The 2,600-square-foot mall store is owned by the elder sister and will sell clothing lines from nearly a dozen designers and brands, such as Raquel Allegra and NSF Clothing. Prices will range from under $50 to $275 for such basics as tops, jeans and shoes. It is expected to open by the end of the month. Nina, a jewelry designer, will run its jewelry atrium. Together, the sisters have put their mark on its design, with white oak shelving and marble countertops, accented by dark grey walls and copper-toned fixtures. There are three Fred Segal locations within California, including the original on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, a 1985 expansion in Santa Monica and a newer outlet at Los Angeles International Airport. In 2012, their father sold worldwide licensing rights to Sandow, a Boca Raton, Fla. company that completed the LAX expansion, and took the retailer to Las Vegas and Tokyo. Fred Segal was not available for comment as he is recuperating from a 2014 stroke. His daughters declined to comment on his physical condition, other than to say he is undergoing intense physical therapy. While the Promenade at Westlake Village may not have as high a hipster quotient as either of the first two Fred Segal locations, the area does boast an appealing demographic the sisters have plenty of experience serving. “The Westlake Village area certainly has a lot of money,” said retail specialist Michael Schiff, executive vice president of NAI Capital, and manager of the brokerage’s Westlake Village office. “People are willing to spend for what they want.” Retail roots Fred Segal wasn’t a typical retailer. The founder got his start selling jeans in 1960, but in 1965 he established his store-within-a-store concept on Melrose. Fred Segal provided a place where jeans buyers could gather, but each boutique on the property was operated by a different retailer. By 1985, Fred Segal had opened another store in Santa Monica which grew to include more than a dozen retail shops and restaurants. The locations are now a one-stop destination for celebrities and Hollywood-types looking to shop, eat and socialize. Nina opened her first shop at Fred Segal in Santa Monica when she was 24 after her father asked her to take over a 1,500-square-foot vacated bead shop. Though her business experience was minimal, the younger Segal had an interest in designing and making jewelry, so she accepted. “I was at a point in my life where I was trying to figure out what I was going to do (professionally),” she recalled. “I didn’t know anything about starting a business at the time so I learned very quickly. I did it because I wanted to provide a space of creativity for people to share – and 20 years later here I am.” Over the next two decades, she and her sister operated nearly 10 shops at Fred Segal Santa Monica, two of which are still operating. Nina sells jewelry, including her own and that by well-known designers such as Terry Snider and Ariel Gordon, at her shop Nina at Fred Segal. It also sells hats, scarves, sunglasses and other accessories. Sharon has one shop at Fred Segal in Santa Monica as well. Fred Segal Girl is an upscale boutique featuring designer jeans, blouses and accessories for young women. Sharon first opened The Closet at Fred Segal in 2013, but she decided to relocate to Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. It was during her move to Montana Avenue that she began researching an expansion into the San Fernando Valley. It didn’t hurt that Rick Caruso was a family friend and a phone call away. Sharon contacted the mall developer during the holidays in 2013 telling him of her interest to expand over the hill. “Rick Caruso goes way back with my dad, and he does what our dad did,” Sharon explained. “Our dad created a place where you could go shop, get your hair done and have lunch. It was an all-day experience. I think that Rick with all of his properties does the same thing.” She said Caruso was more than happy to offer assistance. The two began looking into locations in Calabasas and other affluent neighborhoods, but ultimately decided that Caruso’s Promenade at Westlake Village would be the best fit. “I am very excited for The Closet to open in Westlake Village,” Caruso said in an email. “I also greatly admire their father, Fred Segal – he is legendary.” Neither Sharon nor Nina would disclose how much they invested to open the Closet in Westlake Village, but they acknowledged being anxious about the opening. “Fred Segal was an important part of our history and an important part of our business life,” Sharon said. “I don’t want people to not think of Fred Segal when they come to The Closet. I want them to go, ‘Oh, those are the girls from Fred Segal! Let’s see what they’re doing now.’”

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