Brixton opens up shop in downtown Encinitas
Brixton, a popular hat and clothing brand with North County San Diego roots, has opened its first brick and mortar store in the United States in downtown Encinitas.
The new store aims to be the very model of a modern industrial millinery, a showroom for its diverse styles that also offers services like custom-tailored hats.
Brixton specializes in snapbacks and beanies as well as vintage styles inspired by the past. The brand’s “new Americana” look offers modern takes on classic silhouettes like newsboys, fedoras, pork pie hats and ranchers. The Brixton motto is “Done Proper”, a belief that the right hat can complete a look and turn heads—or simply fix a bad hair day.
While the hats are the main attraction, the shop also sells men’s and women’s apparel such as flannels, jackets, sweaters and sweats.
Brixton CEO Raphael Peck lives in Encinitas with his family and he is thrilled to be a part of the local fabric. He lives just five minutes from the storefront and expects to be in the shop as often as he can.
“I love to be close to the consumer,” Peck said. “Whenever I talk to a customer I learn something new and how we can be better.”
The Oceanside-based brand has been around for 15 years, starting small and local and building a loyal fanbase for the style and high quality of its hats. The company was purchased by private equity group Altamont Capital in 2014 and Peck (formerly of Adidas, Oakley and Fanatics) was brought on two years ago to help the brand evolve and expand.
“I just loved the Brixton brand and thought more people needed to learn about it,” Peck said.
Peck thought it was incredible that the brand could speak to so wide an audience, from “the SoCal kid and his rad dad” who found Brixton gear at surf and skate shops like Tilly’s to women who had picked the perfect Brixton topper at Nordstrom. His mission was to find a way to pull it all together to show the brand in a 360 degrees way.
His goal was to move from just selling online and at major retailers to having its own brick-and-mortar shops.
Brixton opened its first retail store in Sydney, Australia last year and had been hoping to open up in Japan this summer with the Olympics—plans were postponed along with the Tokyo games. Accelerating retail openings in the U.S., Peck plans to open their third location in Oceanside next year.
Peck said they looked all over for the right place for a North County San Diego store and as luck and timing would have it, a space opened up in Encinitas right on the 101. He had walked by the brand new building many times and was just waiting for the “for lease” sign to go up. A lease was signed in April and they went full steam ahead, committed to opening their doors this year despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Brixton opened on Dec. 4 and Governor Gavin Newsom’s regional stay-at-home order took effect on Dec. 5. The “baby grand opening” over their first weekend was a more subdued affair than they would have preferred as they knew it would be irresponsible to draw a crowd and only four to five shoppers are allowed in the store at a time. Despite the challenges and limitations, Peck said they have had an incredible neighborhood response so far. He has been thrilled to see locals coming in to shop safely, walking in as a family, dogs included.
“We feel really, really well supported,” Peck said.
The announcements on social media of their store opening plans have been the most-liked posts of the year with feedback like: Can we get one in Pittsburgh please? We need you in LA. Open in Denver. Come to Portland.
Those positive affirmations are welcome words for a brand looking to grow.
Brixton’s first brick and mortar shop is actually brick with a a window up front that reads “Hello Encinitas”. The store was designed to have a clean, modern industrial look— bright and light meant to convey positivity and to truly showcase the goods in their best light.
As Peck said, headwear often poses a challenge to retailers—they don’t know how to merchandise the hats or where to make space for them. Often hats are an afterthought, “Treated like second class citizens,” he says. Not in this store: As soon as the customers enter they will see the hats propped up on what Peck calls the “Power Wall”, which is also visible from the road.
It is exciting for Peck that the store will allow Brixton to effectively tell the stories of their hats—such as their construction with wool that meets the Responsible Wool Standard for sustainability, interior adjustable bands that allow for the ideal fit and some hats’ unique packable material which allows a crushed hat to return to bounce back to its natural shape after being folded or rolled.
“Right now the store is at 60 miles per hour, the legal speed in a COVID environment,” said Peck, the “fairly caffeinated leader” who would love to be gunning it at 120 miles per hour.
Ultimately the store will be very hands-on with customers in its customization: They can stretch hats for fit, shape brims or perfectly distress them for the perfect look just like a pair of jeans. Customers will be able to bring hats into the store to freshen it up with a steaming and cleaning or pick a new feather or banding for a cap. They also hope to host styling events on the weekends to demonstrate what “Done Proper” really means.
Peck’s goal with the store is to create a truly differentiated consumer experience and the closer they get to customers they can then build stronger relationships that he believes can only improve the brand and its products.
“We treat every day with customers as a day to be better and learn,” Peck said.
Brixton is located at 670 S. Coast Highway in Encinitas. To learn more, visit www.brixton.com. To help out their fellow Encinitas businesses, Brixton is offering a 15% off discount to any customer who shows a receipt from a local restaurant meal purchase.
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