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Streetwear brand with 75-foot hat wall opens first US store on Strip

Updated November 22, 2022 - 4:51 pm

Culture Kings’ new store on the Strip isn’t your typical retail spot.

The streetwear shop boasts a 75-foot wall with towering, color-coordinated columns of 11,000-plus hats. To try one on, an employee on a lift has to grab it for you.

The store also features a recording studio, slushy bar, live DJs, half basketball court, LED screens, upside-down mannequin legs wearing pants and boots, and a punching-bag game called The King.

It’s a visually stimulating place that cost millions of dollars to build out. It’s also Culture Kings’ largest and first U.S. store.

“It’s the biggest and the best in every way,” said CEO and co-founder Simon Beard, who launched the retailer in Australia in 2008.

Culture Kings opened a two-story location in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace on Nov. 5. According to a news release, the company showcases a “unique blend of sports, culture, music and fashion,” and its roughly 14,000-square-foot retail space has more than 2,000 apparel, headwear and footwear styles.

The store has an array of sports-team hats in various colors and designs, as well as basketball jerseys and other athletic apparel.

Overall, Culture Kings targets “male consumers between the ages of 18 and 35 who are fashion conscious, highly social and digitally focused,” according to a securities filing by San Francisco-based parent company a.k.a. Brands Holding Corp., which acquired the retailer last year for an undisclosed amount.

Culture Kings has several stores in Australia and one in New Zealand but generates most of its sales online, Beard told the Review-Journal. He declined to say how much it cost to build out the space on the Strip but said it was “many millions of dollars.”

“It cost more than all our stores in Australia combined,” he said.

In Las Vegas, Culture Kings can get visibility with tourists from around the country and world. It also faces plenty of competition, as the Strip is packed with malls and other places to shop, with no shortage of retailers slinging hats and clothes.

Sports apparel chain Lids, for instance, recently opened a two-story, 12,000-square-foot store on the Strip, saying it will feature more than 50,000 units of fashion and sports merchandise.

Given the heavy volume of visitors walking around, retailers on the Strip are known to generate big sales figures but also pay hefty rents. Culture Kings’ lease in Las Vegas will cost about $1.7 million the first year, according to its parent company.

Beard said he is proud of the deal, adding it was a “bargain” given the store’s size and location.

Shawmut Design and Construction said in a news release that it installed a large staircase in the store with LED-clad risers; a “mirrored tunnel hallway” that leads shoppers to a secret room; a Jumbotron; and more than 50 LED screens.

It started demolition work in March, turning what had been multiple retail shops into one, said Eric Geisler, director of Shawmut’s Las Vegas office.

Probably 30 percent of Shawmut’s local business is building out retail stores, said Geisler, who noted Culture Kings has “lots of interaction with the guests just beyond the clothes.”

In Las Vegas, Culture Kings’ shoppers also need employee assistance to retrieve hats to try on, and not just from the giant wall, as workers need a ladder in other spots around the store.

Some hat hunters may not have the patience for that, and Beard acknowledged the retailer could sacrifice some sales. But he said the goal is to sell whole outfits and show its expertise, not just have a “transactional” experience where people pick a hat and leave.

“This is my sort of gamble,” he said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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