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The Dark Knight Rises


Skingraft, L.A.’s favorite leather-infused sportswear label, is gearing up for expansion.

Skingraft’s star is rising. The LA-based label opened a boutique in New York last year and presented its strong fall’14 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week–its second time on the runway in New York. Now, Skingraft is opening a 2,550-sq.-foot (237-sq.-meter) retail space in downtown Los Angeles this summer.
“This new boutique I think is a great opportunity to represent ourselves and to kind of show LA and the rest of the world how much we’ve evolved as a brand,” says designer Jonny Cota who opened the first Skingraft store downtown five years ago. “I feel very fortunate that it’s grown into something successful but I’m excited about this new store because we’re hitting the ground running. Now we know how to do retail [and] we have a better sense of our brand identity.”
The new store is about twice as big as its original location on Fourth Street it is replacing and the entire build-out is much more conceptual. “We really want to express the soul of the brand in a greater way,” explains Cota who plans to include taxidermy and macabre art installations as part of its design. He also reveals that next year the company plans to open a second store in the new location, which will house a new surprise project–a further extension of the brand.
While doubling rack space may be intimidating to some, Cota is prepared for the challenge. Skingraft’s sales have increased 100% every year since the label launched in 2006 and demand for the brand’s darkly chic fitted leather jackets and streetwear-infused collection continues to grow. Last year, the brand totaled $2 milliion in sales, and is on course to double its sales again. “It’s been a steady growth and we hope if we continue that same pattern, that we’re putting ourselves in a really great position for the continued success of the brand,” he says.

Skingraft started out as a 30-piece collection for men and for women and has grown to approximately 70 to 80 pieces for each. “Next season it has to be even more–it really does,” says Cota, who cites the demand for more as one reason for the growth. The brand has built a cult-like following over the years. And not surprisingly, Skingraft, which straddles the line between reality and fantasy, has developed a strong celebrity following. Currently, Cota says he is excited to be working with upcoming artists Angel Haze and Iggy Azalea who has been wearing Skingraft on tour. While the celebrity factor has created valuable exposure and he has enjoyed making custom pieces, these days Cota is more focused on the brand itself.

“Recently, I’ve been less inspired by custom and more inspired about the collection and really bringing it to more racks, more stores and more cities and letting it be more accessible,” he says. He now focuses on infusing that custom energy into the collection. “We just need to have pieces in our collection that can stand on their own and can be used in a video because they’re bold enough,” he says.

About Skingraft

  • Founded in 2006
  • Jonny Cota is creative director/owner; his brother Christopher Cota is director/owner
  • The new LA flagship store is located at 758 S. Spring Street
  • Skingraft is planning to open a new retail concept store slated for 2015
  • Retailers include The Well, Traffic, Kitson and American Rag in Los Angeles; Atrium and Shop Untitled in New York; as well as revolve.com and solestruck.com
  • Primarily the collection is available in the USA. This fall, the collection will ship to Japan, China, Europe and the Middle East
  • Wholesale prices are $21 to $475 (€15 to €348) for accessories and footwear, $40 to $604 for ready-to-wear and $165 to $1,042 for leather items