Union Los Angeles exemplifies a retail space with vision that continues to evolve and grow with great distinction. Located on Le Brea in LA, the store has enjoyed two decades of leading the way by curating an array of labels from all over the world, with quality a vocal point. Chris Gibbs has carried out this philosophy and direction with an astute eye, looking high and low for a coveting selection of labels whether its as high as Comme des Garcons and Visvim or as local as Tantum and Feal Mor. I caught up with Chris to talk shop, and I suggest making the trip to Union Los Angeles if you are in the area.
James Oliver: Please tell us a bit about yourself? Your likes/dislikes? Everything/anything?
Chris Gibbs: Canadian by birth. Bajan by descent. Mixed not just in race but in everything, kind of culturally/socially a mutt. I like it all and hate it all, basically I like dope shit and don’t like wack shit. I grew up as a minority every where I was. In Canada I was the only black kid around, and then when I was around other black kids like with my dad’s side (the black side), who all lived in Brooklyn, I was unlike any other black kid they ever met so I was kind of different to them too. So I was kinda mixed up I would go skating with my skater friends and then play ball with the Jocs, who never would fuck with each other. Heads could never put me in a box so I never wanted to get put in a box. But I always had knowledge of self and never lost myself, all growed up I still don’t like to be put in a box.
JO: Can you tell us about the philosophy behind the store?
CG: Basically same shit. I like to mix it up, I like to think our store represents the dude who has Knowledge of self, good style, unafraid to step outside the box and doesn’t need anyone else telling them how to look, what to wear, or who to be. All with a golden era (hip hop/ punk rock) mentality.
JO: What separates Union from other stores, both in Los Angeles and North America.
CG: We is who we is. A lot of other stores follow the trends and right now what we do is kind of on-trend but we have always tried to do our own thing for our customers. A lot of people say that I have really changed the store for the better. I works hard, don’t get me wrong and I do have my own particular version of UNION but I inherited the foundation from my predecessors; Mary Ann,James and Eddie who started Union over 25 years ago. All that to say, most of the stores that you might want to compare us to have just gotten on and they still make their nut from the mainstream brands they sell, not the outsiders that we have been repping for over 2 decades. We have been doing this shit for UDEEN (a long time). For example, we have been selling Visvim, NBHD and the likes for over 10 years.
JO: How do you maintain a fresh outlook for the store?
CG: We try and be open minded and we are constantly looking for new, young, fresh ideas. There is not really a science to it, but rather a feeling. We keep the store fresh cause we never want to get stale, most of this shit comes from just working at it. You are always looking for new brands, trends, people to work with.