A few months ago I heard rumblings that something big was coming in the Olivia Kim world at Nordstrom. Passing comments and off-the-record conversations about an exciting shakeup from the former Opening Ceremony vice president. Then in July, Nordstrom Designer Preview departed from its typical routine when, mid-show, collections from lesser-known labels walked the runway in sets of threes and fours. The music shifted, the styling changed, and the word 'Space' was emblazoned on the backdrop. Ah. Okay...here it is.
Or, at least there it was. Everything remained hush-hush until last week when the New York Times profiled Kim's new to-do. Yesterday I saw it. Today, it opens.
Dubbed Space, the project is a permanent shop-in-shop full of unique pieces from emerging designers handpicked by Kim. The concept got moving just six months ago (this girl works fast) with the goal of creating a curated boutique within the larger Nordstrom brand. In addition to the Seattle Space, Chicago and San Francisco will also be getting their own departments today, as will the Vancouver store when it opens next month, and likely the New York/Toronto/etc. stores of the future.
"As a big company we're lucky because we can take risks like this," Kim said yesterday while walking me through the technicolor scene. "Unlike a small boutique, we can introduce these brands without having to worry that it could really hurt us financially."
The brands—currently 46 of them—include urbanite favorites like Acne Studios; updated denim from Marques'Almeida; Japan's Undercover and Noir Kei Ninomiya (of the Comme des Garçons umbrella). There's urban-gothic Anthony Vaccarello. Tough/feminine/fresh pieces from Ireland's Simone Rocha (Kim's secret favorite). And unlike every other Nordstrom department—except BP—you'll also be able to shop shoes and accessories alongside clothing in Space. (I'll take the Rosetta Getty shearling sling-backs, please.) Overall, styles range from modern classics to downright edgy in a way that'll hopefully push people out of their comfort zones a bit.
"The process [of choosing designers] was really selfish," Kim joked. "Basically I picked all the stuff I personally wanted to buy."
Space's actual space is cheerful and inviting and so cool, with Kim-sourced furniture by artists like Max Lamb and Kwangho Lee. The setup will get a seasonal refresh, with the occasional new couch, light fixtures, etc., but designers and labels aren't on any set rotation. Instead, Kim's intention is to create a platform for the brands, keeping an open dialogue about exposure and production capabilities and moving lines in and out of the shop-in-shop in a way that works for both the little guys and for Space's greater goals.
Never heard of a single name I dropped earlier? I admittedly didn't know many of them either, but the department's dedicated "ambassadors" are now (excitedly) waiting on the second floor at the downtown store to introduce you. Stop by. And let me know what you walk out with.