Sunday, March 12, 2006

Microzine in London


More and more magazines, it seems, are geared toward shopping; flipping through their pages is like browsing through a store. So why not the inverse: a shop modeled on a magazine? That is the thinking behind Microzine, a men's store in London that caters to the trend-obsessed.

With a stock that rotates monthly, and often more quickly than that, Microzine has become a go-to destination for early adapters, cool hunters and others in search of the latest must-haves, from Y-3 jeans, new gadgets and even a Royal Enfield motorcycle to limited-edition Puma sneakers, which once sold out in two hours.

Indeed, customers will rarely see the same store twice, explained its owner, Chris Lee, who has been a creative director and consultant for brands like Reebok and Donna Karan. "We're trying to run it like a magazine, by always focusing on what's next," he said.

The formula of tightly edited products, superexclusivity and rapid-fire turnover appears to be working. Last March, Microzine opened a sprawling 6,000-square-foot satellite store in Liverpool, Mr. Lee's hometown. And in November, he moved its London shop from the neighborhood of Islington, where it first opened in 2003, to Little Portland Street, a two-block lane near Oxford Circus. There, it's joined by such trendy stomping grounds as Social Bar and Annex 3, a new sibling of Les Trois Garçons restaurant and Loungelover bar.

Nevertheless, Microzine's new London store lacks the gloss of the glossies; beaten-up wooden floors and utilitarian shelves outfit its modest 800-square-foot space. Instead, the emphasis is on the products, Mr. Lee said, which have lately ranged from limited-edition DKNY sneakers, a collaboration with the New York graffiti artist Ewok (£75, about $135, at $1.80 to the pound), to a Brionvega portable television (£520) while, in Liverpool, a stock of designer rubber duckies (£6) flew out within a week.

Mr. Lee has also expanded his efforts to include exhibitions; a recent one featured work by Jamie Reid, who designed album covers for the Sex Pistols. In addition, for two months each year, Mr. Lee plans to transform the London Microzine into a pop-up store — the first was late last year — devoted to labels like Levi's and New Balance. In publishing terms, one might call the arrangement a cross between a special issue and an advertising supplement. But Mr. Lee offers yet another analogy. "It's like having a resident D.J.," he said. "We're the resident retailer."

In London, Microzine is at 3/4A Little Portland Street, (44-20) 7636-8969. The Liverpool store is at 65-67 Bold Street, (44-151) -709-7282.