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This High-Tech Boutique Wants to Make Real-Life Retail as Addictive as Online Shopping

With a new outpost in the Mission, L.A. fashion brand Reformation is betting on tech-enabled brick and mortar. 


Editor’s Note: This is one of several stories about the future of our metropolis, which San Francisco is publishing over the next month as part of the April 2017 Urban Design Issue. To read stories as they become available online, click here.

When it opened its Valencia Street store on February 27, Reformation—the eco-chic cult clothing brand from Los Angeles—debuted what founder Yael Aflalo predicts will be the future of brick-and-mortar shopping. The store features touchscreen monitors, digital fitting room attendees, and “magic wardrobes” inside (well-lit) fitting rooms that fill with desired items and sizes at the touch of a button. All of these bells and whistles aren’t just high tech for high tech’s sake—they’re an attempt to meld the conveniences of shopping online with the tactile experience of shopping in real life, minus the indignities and factory abuses of fast fashion (the majority of Reformation’s clothing is made ethically and sustainably in L.A. factories). 

The aesthetic of Reformation’s first outpost outside of L.A. and New York eschews the maximalism of high-volume retailers. The clothing racks are sparse and airy, often displaying just one size for each top-selling style. Shoppers use large touchscreen monitors hanging from the walls to add items to their dressing room while they continue to browse. The items are pulled from a stockroom and loaded into the customer’s “magic wardrobe”—a closet with a hidden back panel not unlike those that fishnet-clad magician’s assistants have been known to disappear into. “If you need another size, you simply tap the screen in your dressing room, close your wardrobe doors, and voilà—it appears,” Aflalo says. You can even connect your iPhone to the system, shopping to your very own music and eventually checking out from the privacy of the dressing room—thus avoiding the ever-awkward “And who was helping you today?” dance.

Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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