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Life-Style Shopping

September 01, 1989|LORI BERGER

If you like the aristocratic look, but not the prices that go with it, then a new store, Club Monaco, might be worth looking into.

Fusing affordable yet basic looks with pricey, landed-gentry styling, the Canadian-based retailer is bringing its own versions of Euro-inspired classics for men, women and children to Southern California with four new "life style stores."

Inspired by the life and lore of the famous Mediterranean enclave, Club Monaco is kicking off its U.S. presence by opening doors in the Beverly Center, the Del Amo Fashion Center, at Santa Monica Place and in the Thousand Oaks Shopping Center, all of which will be open by Labor Day.

Club Monaco's concept of "life-style retailing" goes beyond its collections of casual classics for the entire family to feature "life's ultimate basics," including fragrances, accessories, outerwear, shoes, watches and even food in some locations--all produced exclusively by and for the store.

Since it was founded in 1985 by brothers Joseph and Saul Mimran, the chain has expanded to 50 stores in Canada with annual sales averaging $500 per square foot (well above the national average). The firm recently sold a 50% interest to the $2-billion retailing giant Dylex Ltd. Company executives are anticipating that its West Coast stores, which will average about 3,000 square feet apiece, will generate $10 million in first-year sales.

"Most retailers attack categories, we pursue a life style," explains president Joseph Mimran, who wears Club Monaco's white twill slacks, imported white cotton shirt, blue blazer with a polka-dot pocket square and white deck shoes and looks as if he just came back from the Cote d'Azur. "It's an attitudinal thing. Our approach is fun and a bit more European in thinking."

For men, there are Oxford-cloth shirts ($39) and cotton-twill utility pants ($49) as fall fashion basics. For women, equestrian looks for fall include wool viscose riding jackets ($189) and matching jodhpurs ($89), suitable for city or country living.

The Gaucho collection features hardy indigo denim and chambray combined with butter-soft washed deer skin or rough pig suede. Hand-knit sweaters patterned after Navajo Indian blankets and hand-rubbed, vegetable-tanned leather belts highlighted with forged brass or pewter buckles are evocative of the West's native cultures.

The Oakland firm of Ace Architects has designed the six West Coast stores with interiors that are modular and interchangeable to provide impromptu, unpredictable interiors. The company's flagship store in San Francisco's new San Francisco Centre is the hallmark of the Club Monaco life-style concept and is a sprawling, 5,600-square-foot playground with its own full-service restaurant, the Cafe/Bar Cote d'Azur.

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