H. Merrick of California: California Cool
Skip the traffic-jammed trip heading west on the 10, designer Heidi Merrick brought the surf and sand to 9th street, quite literally. Industrial copper racks of California chic ready-to-wear juxtapose the centerpiece of an enormous light-grey rock sitting atop a sand dune, created and craned in by installation artist and close friend of Heidi’s, Josephine Wister Faure. “I asked her for a water feature and she was like, ‘Here,’” jokes Heidi. Large-scale framed prints of the ocean by Sharon Montrose cover the walls along with custom surfboards by Heidi’s brother Britt Merrick in fall hues, matching the current collection.
A teak wood canopy bed by Bernard Brucha, covered in gold sequin and black leather throw pillows from Heidi’s home line, sits amidst Spanish rugs on the concrete floor, just in case you’re tired of trying on clothes in the cabanas. Although this flagship store could easily be a beach resort on the coast of the California Market Center, this LA-made brand retails feminine, fantastical designs seas away from swimwear (But they do sell that, too).
Whimsical gowns, sequined skirts and velvet trouser-sets are made pattern-to-product in Heidi’s design studio above the shop. “The local designer has a local store, I think it’s just the right way to go,” Heidi says as she reminisces on a time before her downtown getaway was born. “I really wanted to represent the full collection well. I hate the way stores buy. Every time an order would come in, I died a little bit. People love to say ‘This is what you’re selling and this is what you need to be’, but once I stopped listening to the trends and listening to more of what I wanted, my sales increased.”
Now 10 years and 39 collections later, H. Merrick of California celebrates its 1-year anniversary and Heidi’s still working her Santa Barbara beach-buns off to keep it sailing full-speed. “When you get a flagship it seems bigger than it is. It’s still me up there making the clothes and sending things into production and quality checking. It really is a passion project … I can never catch up to my imagination.”
“I truly think I design for myself and the people around me,” Heidi says, sitting in her favorite piece, the Apollo skirt, which she has in every color. “I like to make women feel that wonderful feeling when you put on a dress and think, ‘Gosh, I didn’t know I looked like this. I can do anything in it.’”
Every collection has some sort of reincarnation of ‘the Heidi dress’, an original and favored piece from the brand’s beginnings. The pattern was made back when Heidi was studying in fashion school at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. “Like from ‘Sound of Music’ where Maria (Von Trapp) makes clothes out of the curtains, I went and bought from a store that sells weird thick embroidered home fabrics and made each layer in a different vintage upholstery. I lined it in black Spanish trim. It was Heidi grown up.” And now that the brand is all grown up, ‘the Heidi dress’ blueprint can still be seen, but in reverse.
Besides the SRF line that can be found in-store, which Heidi shared is an inside joke on keeping your surf spot secret, plans are in the works for a men’s collection coming in 2018. So until then, men are welcome to come in and escape the city streets, dip their toes in the sand, sip on a refreshing can of La Croix sparkling water, and listen to the relaxing Tropicana music.
Written by Elana Kluner | Photography by Laetitia Wajnapel