Shawmut Design and Construction has been active in the Las Vegas market for nearly 15 years. And it’s safe to say, during that stretch, that Shawmut hadn’t built a retail store whose merchandise assortment includes 11,000 hats, and whose amenities include a state-of-the-art recording studio.
Those are two features of Culture Kings, the renowned streetwear brand based in Brisbane, Australia, which in early November opened its U.S. flagship store at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas. Shawmut worked with bokor architecture + interiors (the design architect for Culture Kings’ stores in Australia and New Zealand) and Vegas-based Bunnyfish Studios (the AOR on the project) to create the two-story immersive space that had previously been occupied by four tenants, including an art gallery.
Culture Kings’ stores Down Under, as well as its wider online presence, have popularized the brand among celebrities in the sports, fashion, music, and entertainment worlds. DJs perform daily in each of its stores, whose luxury space, known as “The Vault,” displays the latest in men’s and women’s jewelry, watches, and other accessories. The stores offer over 100 leading brands and 2,000-plus styles of apparel and footwear, including 18 proprietary brands.
U.S. store adds some flourishes
The store in Las Vegas, which took eight months to complete, is Culture Kings’ ninth, and, according to Eric Geisler, a Director at Shawmut’s office in Las Vegas, is “very similar” to the stores in Australia and New Zealand. It includes a half basketball court and a 75-ft-tall hat wall. Interactive games allow customers to play to win products. The 25,000-sf store, with 14,000 sf of retail space, is distinguished by a large staircase with LED-clad risers, a mirrored tunnel hallway that leads patrons to a “Secret Room” with exclusive merch (a feature that the chain introduced at its Auckland, New Zealand, store last year), a jumbotron and more than 50 LED screens that livestream the latest work produced by music and video artists.
Geisler tells BD+C that his team traveled to Australia to tour Culture Kings’ stores there and to pick up on the “vibe” they send out to their customers. “The company wants to create an atmosphere that makes you want to hang out in the stores.”
To that end, the recording studio and bar are unique to the Vegas store, as is a footwear customization lounge. Throughout the store, black floor tile and metal work put the focus on the products and Culture Kings’ content. Geisler says the biggest challenge during construction was “figuring out where things went.”
A pivotal moment for growth?
Simon Beard, Culture Kings’ cofounder and CEO, who launched the company in 2008, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the cost of the Las Vegas store (which he didn’t reveal) was more than the combined total for its stores in Australia.
The Vegas store is nestled in The Forum Shops at Caesars between a Fat Tuesday restaurant and an Urban Necessities retail outlet. Culture Kings—which currently generates most of its revenue online, according to the Review-Journal—hasn’t disclosed if it has expansion plans for North America. But it’s worth noting that the company was acquired last year by a.k.a. Brands Holding Corp., which has a reputation for being a retail accelerator.
“This is a pivotal moment for Culture Kings,” a.k.a. Brands’ CEO Jill Ramsey said in a statement about the Vegas store opening. “Consumers are interacting with brands on a different level, and Culture Kings is transforming traditional retail in an unforgettable, immersive experience that can’t be replicated. I’m excited to watch the brand take off in the U.S. and globally.”