After building two stores in Los Angeles, basics brand Alternative , formerly Alternative Apparel , is scheduled to open a store in San Francisco on Dec. 8.

The 1,200-square-foot store in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, which also is home to prominent boutique Azalea , will be Alternative’s third physical boutique. Selling the brand’s the eco-fashion and basics won’t be its only mission, said Erik Joule, president and chief merchandising officer of Alternative. It also will actively seek to participate in San Francisco’s arts and community groups. It will also experiment with retail technology and sustainability.

“It won’t be a few events around a store opening, then it goes dark,” Joule said on the Alternative store’s cultural and community activism. “Commerce happens 12 months a year, why shouldn’t community and culture happen 12 months a year?”

Opening events will include a bike ride tour of San Francisco, a dinner party of locally sourced foods cooked by star chef Aaron London, where the topic of discussion will be how Alternative can better engage the citizens of San Francisco, according to an Alternative statement. The manager of the new store also will be expected to be active in local issues as well as helm a boutique, Joule said.

Alternative has long cultivated an ethic in sustainable business and fashion. Part of the ethos is being a community partner, Joule said. Earlier this year, Alternative’s Abbot Kinney store held a party for Ron Finley, a “guerilla” gardener from South Los Angeles, who made it a mission to popularize urban gardens which grow fresh produce in economically disadvantaged areas. Alternative also developed the Alternative Grants , which awards money to neighborhood improvement programs.

The brand also will build a “transparency” program, which is scheduled to take a bow in Spring ’14. For this program, marketing materials will explain where Alternative products are sourced and made. “It’s being super honest and transparent,” Joule said. “Sustainability is about continuous improvement, we have to continue to grow.”

For new retail tech, the San Francisco store will feature a digital signage system, which will link the Alternative stores. Video from an event at the Abbot Kinney store could be viewed at the Hayes Valley store for example.

The interior design of the store was a collaboration between an in-house Alternative team and McCall Design Group . The store’s look is a blend of rustic and modern styles, Joule said. Film images will be screened on the back of a wall. Modular fixtures and racks will be placed around the store and this furniture will be easily moved around the store to make space for events and to periodically create a new look for the boutique.

Alternative also plans to open a store in New York in Spring 2014

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Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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