La Gent is a multi-brand online store showcasing designers who pride themselves on authenticity and quality craftsmanship. Founded by Sharif Labo, La Gent brings together brands whose manufacturing process is integral to their story. On his site, you can find everything from homeware to accessories, from brands including Calico Wallpaper, Apparatus Lighting, and Dom Vetro sunglasses. Since Sharif launched La Gent in 2015, he has steadily been building a cult following.
This month, Sharif has opened his first pop-up and collaborated with a series of like-minded brands to bring it to life. Partnering with Pinch, a furniture design company, La Gent has taken over the front of The Koppel Project, a creative space in Marylebone. The pop-up has the design world talking – with Wallpaper Magazine already highlighting it as one of the top design pop-ups of 2016.
We caught up with Sharif to find out how he made it happen and why collaboration is so important for a small brand.
Hi Sharif. As an online business, why have you decided to launch a physical store?
The idea to launch a pop-up was mainly driven by the fact that the products we sell online lend themselves to being seen and touched in the flesh. They look their best in the setting they were designed for. That’s why having a physical space is important to me – sometimes the quality and craftsmanship is hard to communicate through a photo on a website.
We’re only a year old, so I also saw this pop-up as an opportunity for us to grow our customer base and connect with a new audience.
Tell us about your collaboration with Pinch. What made you decide to get them involved?
I wanted the space to feel as though you’d just entered someone’s house. I liked the idea of it having a ‘lived in’ feel, but I knew I’d need to collaborate with someone to achieve this. Furniture hire is not cheap!
I approached Pinch as not only do they share the same ethos and design aesthetic as us, but they also use a lot of similar materials to the brands we stock. When we met I realised how much we had in common. We're both similar sized companies at the same stage of our journey, so it felt right to collaborate.
You’ve taken a space inside The Koppel Project. Why did you choose this over your own branded store?
I knew by launching a pop-up in another store, we’d get the benefit of connecting with their customers too. The Koppel Project was particularly appealing because of the fact that it is a creative hub, made up of a shop, gallery, workspace and bookstore. They host lots of events, so we’ve been able to make the most of those to drive additional sales.
I also knew The Koppel Project would help us get in front of the right audience. The types of people who come to shop here are all interested in design, so we’ve had a lot of new customers. It’s also in a great location: parallel to Chiltern Street and Marylebone High Street and with lots of world class creative agencies based nearby.
What have been the highlights so far?
It’s been a great awareness exercise, and we’ve had lots of repeat customers. It’s also been amazing to discover how many fans we had already – I’ve loved meeting people who’ve journeyed over specially to see us here.
Another highlight was our launch event. We collaborated with Sipsmith, who designed for us a special cocktail for the night. The event helped generate some good press, including a feature in Wallpaper and several design blogs.
Where can we find you next?
Although the pop-up comes to an end on July 2nd, it’s been a great way for us to grow our brand. So I’m definitely going to be launching another store soon. Until then, you can discover La Gent online here.