Lee is confident about the new HBX store. The US is currently the media company’s “most important market” for commerce, she says. Commerce currently accounts for a third of Hypebeast’s revenue; of that, the US accounts for 26 per cent, followed by Taiwan at 18 per cent and Hong Kong at 13 per cent, according to the brand. The store is Hypebeast’s second and largest to date: the first HBX opened in 2016 in Hong Kong, where Hypebeast was founded by CEO Kevin Ma, but it is a fraction of the size at 1,800 square feet.
The US building is also home to Hypebeast’s first North American headquarters, where about 100 employees will be seated across four floors. “Until now, we’ve been operating out of a combination of a co-working space and remote work,” Lee tells Vogue Business from her apartment in Brooklyn. Those working for the media arm of the company will have an opportunity to interact with the retail space, brands and customers on a daily basis. “What we really want to have are those fortuitous moments where you might strike a conversation with someone. It’s a convening space that will hopefully foster creativity in the team,” she explains.
Other brands stocked include Nike, Stone Island, Acronym, Mastermind Japan, Mugler, Heron Preston, Thom Browne and Dries Van Noten in a gender-fluid space that isn’t divided by menswear and womenswear. Both its bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce businesses are largely wholesale-based, but take consignment on a case-by-case basis to ensure flexibility for smaller labels. Top of mind for its buying and merchandising teams are progessive brands that drive culture forward, says Lee. “We wanted to showcase an assortment that feels fully inclusive, that speaks to our aesthetic and is very welcoming.”
The space will also be used to inspire and educate; HBX will invite artists and creatives to take part in a variety of projects. One of the partnerships at launch will be with a social enterprise called The Skateroom, whose mission is to combine art with skate and social change. The company partners with influential artists to create exclusive pieces of art on skateboard decks. At least 10 per cent of the sale of a skateboard is donated to various global charities that focus on empowering young people. HBX will showcase The Skateroom’s products for a few months, as well as host an event series. Hypebeast also plans to bring Hypetalks, a series of online live discussions with creatives ranging from Heron Preston to Maya Penn and Jaden Smith, to the physical space for the first time.
Pop-ups will play a big role. HBX is in ongoing conversations with an LVMH-owned brand to take over the space, says Lee. “Our conversations have been focused on creating a truly immersive experience,” she adds. “It’s not necessarily about selling a specific product but about incorporating artwork and other elements to create a beautiful space where consumers can learn more about a brand. We want to create a 360-degree sensory experience that doesn’t just feel like a shopping destination.” There’s benefit for both HBX and its partners, Lee adds. “An experience is much more memorable when you’re interacting with a brand. People have been coming to us for content and hopefully they trust our ability to curate.”