On a somewhat sleepy section of Broadway, in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, is an industrial but intimate shop the leather goods darling Building Block now calls home — that is, IRL, at least. After years of mainly existing on the internet and doing most of their business in wholesale, founders and sisters Nancy and Kimberly Wu were ready for a more client-centric experience. “[The internet] is so noisy. This is just a quaint little corner of L.A,,” Nancy said at the opening event last week.
The space, which is one-third shop, two-thirds workshop and was once a bookstore, reflects the functional aesthetic of their covetable purses and shoes. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, concrete floors, and minimal track lighting, the flagship store only houses a couple dozen products. But there’s a reason for this: the duo is planning to use this space to experiment a bit with new products, designing what they feel inspired to make, rather than pumping out a steady supply of their best-sellers week after week.
For those who might not be familiar with the Wu sisters, neither began their careers in fashion, which has greatly influenced their brand. Kimberly started her career at Honda in Tokyo, while Nancy was in Portland working for Nike, and subsequently both value necessity over form. The bags are chic but unpretentious and devoid of the common frills you might see on purses, totes, and messenger bags — no extra zippers, logos or rivets.
But, it’s clear that both are excited to branch out from the current Building Block MO; the sisters light up when asked what's next, even if they don't exactly have firm plans just yet. Kimberly said she was looking forward to working with “different materials besides leather,” but neither will say much more on that. And what about shoes? Well, they both tease that there may - or very well may not - be more shoes on the way. “Maybe keep that vague,” Nancy said with a slight smirk. Time will tell.
Tribes Hipster professionals.
Fans of the Brand Tavi Gevinson and Miranda July, who attended the opening event.
The Mix A variety of leather bags — drawstring bucket bags, totes, wallets, sleeves for Apple devices, coin purses — all in mostly black and white, as well as some odds and ends such as tassels.
Bestsellers The Bucket Bag ($485), and the Cylinder Sling ($395).
Design Cozy and minimal, surrounded by white walls, windows, and mirrors.
Pièce de résistance The added industrial accents, from metal coils to styrofoam blocks.
Prices Everyday bags hover in the $400s and $500s, while you might spend $75 for a tassel and up to $760 for a duffel bag.
Location 970 N. Broadway, Unit 104 Los Angeles, CA 90012 323-803-3420 Store hours: Wed - Sat, 12 - 7; Sun 12 - 5
For those who prefer to shop from home: https://building--block.com.