AETHER Apparel Offers a Unique Take on Retail


In January 2013, AETHER founders Jonah Smith and Palmer West, self-described ‘outdoor enthusiasts who live in the city’ opened their first stand-alone retail store called AETHERsf in Hayes Valley, San Francisco in a structure made from stacked shipping containers.

The AETHER aesthetic is clean, classic and timeless. The store was conceived by Paris-based designer Thierry Gaugain and Berkeley design firm envelope A+D and is…

…constructed out of three 8′ x 9.6′ x 40′ shipping containers piled one on top of one another.

Citing inventory issues as something they needed to address, the shipping containers feature a unique “dry-cleaner style” conveyor belt system that rotates from the first floor to the third floor, allowing anyone shopping to see a continuous movement of product regardless of the level they’re on.

Operated by a key pad system, customers can dial in a number of a specific item they wish to have ‘delivered’ to the floor they’re on. Or they can push an arrow button and direct the conveyor to continuously move the product around.

For replenishment purposes, the shop owners can load the inventory from either the first or the third floor.

Merchandise is kept in ‘cages’ to ensure they stay in line and are prevented them from falling off the rack.

A peek inside through this video tells the tale of its construction from start to finish and describes AETHERsf’s undeniably innovative, sleek, modern sophistication.

With 85% of their business done online, AETHERsf gives customers an opportunity to actually interact with the product.

They’re able to see what they’ve just looked at on their computer screen come to life as they try it on, providing an in store experience and adding an extra element to the sales and customer service process.

A quote from the founders that describes AETHERsf perfectly: “If you think this is cool, then you think the things that we make are cool.”

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

1 Comment
  1. Ladetra Wright

    I love this post. I have been collecting information on starting a fashion truck, but couldnt find alot of inspiration to pull from. I found pics of this new concept, and hope to follow this same model

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