Maison de Mode takes its online ethical luxury fashion brand to an offline pop-up in San Francisco

San Francisco’s fashion staple seems to be ripped jeans and a hoodie. But just between the edgy All Saints and Paris designer St. Laurent on San Francisco’s Maiden Lane is a rare, high-end fashion pop-up called Maison de Mode.

The shop boasts ethical fashion for the luxury buyer with hard to find artisanal items from globally sourced brands you’d normally only find at its online site. But Maison de Mode founders Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre are conducting something of an experiment in San Francisco — taking their online store offline for a limited time.

The site launched in October of 2015, but its roots are in the physical realm. Hearst and Pierre originally kicked off the idea to provide high-end, ethical fashion as a traveling concept boutique in 2012.

Hearst is deeply embedded in the fashion world — she’s heiress to the Hearst Corporation fortune and started out working as an editor for Marie Claire (which is owned by Hearst Corp.) when the idea struck her to not only write about the fashion industry but provide high-end items that give back.

Hearst’s startup partner, Pierre, studied at the acclaimed fashion design school Parsons before launching his own sustainable clothing line, which is also sold on the site.

The two run a couple of pop-ups a year to introduce folks to their online concept store and decided to try San Francisco this time.

The store was pretty quiet when I walked in mid-morning this week, but other than the loud, clanging construction a block away on Union Square, so was every other shop along the street.

“Most brick mortar stores don’t get the traffic but online you are 24-hours and global, which is why we just do pop-ups. It’s like brick-and-mortar in reverse,” Hearst told me.

Indeed, as more physical stores go online, that may be a trend we start to see more of. But Maison is a unique concept shop, closer to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, which recently showed up in downtown San Francisco with its own pop-up, not Gap or Amazon.

Hearst and Pierre told me it’s been a mix of the tech crowd and an older crowd to the store so far. And, interestingly, San Franciscans seem to have their own kind of style unique to this city.

“Each place we visit is a sociological study,” says Hearst. “We’ve seen a lot of customers go for more of the colorful Latin brands [in San Francisco].”

The pop-up shop displays bright blue and green Mola Salsa handbags, which are handmade from vintage textiles by a tribe in Colombia, and fabric tassel Shashi earrings put together piece by piece in New York’s garment district. The Shashi bracelets (at $74 each) have also been popular, according to Hearst.

All items sold in the store and online are supposed to support “social and environmental transformation” and come with special marks indicating how the products support Maison de Mode’s mission.

It’s not clear if visitors are just drop-ins or come for the concept, but a few notable Silicon Valley visitors to the store so far include CEO of the RealReal Julie Wainright and founder of Sutro Energy Group Nicole Systrom.

“All are smart, educated women. Very impressive,” Hearst said. “They’re not your typical New York City fashionista but they have their own unique style.”

Maison is self-funded and didn’t want to release sales figures, but says it’s “healthy” and “growing” as a business.

Maison’s pop-up shop will be on Maiden Lane until this Sunday, then heads to Dallas. You can visit the store to check out more items and the stories behind them by clicking here or by checking out the gallery below.

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