It’s a refreshing experience to shop at a store in the Arts District that isn’t afraid to have a little fun. A sparse and serious ambiance now tends to mark every other hip retail space in downtown. It’s a totally different experience at Voyager. It’s tucked away inside One Santa Fe’s shopping courtyard and as soon as you enter you’re greeted by a mix of Scandi design and contemporary Californian cool makers. Art objects are displayed on wood-beam shelves. A bed of foliage blankets the ceiling like a canopy; holographic, geometric installations recur throughout. There are boobs. It feels less like a place to shop, and more like a place to hang.
Voyager first came to life as a collaboration between Spartan, an Austin-based home goods store, and Revolver, a contemporary clothing store in San Francisco. Its first retail space opened up 5 years ago in SF’s Mission District, and has since established a loyal neighborhood following. When reps from One Santa Fe reached out to the team with a unique leasing opportunity, it felt like the right time and place to expand their vision.
Co-owner Valerie Hirsch runs the new storefront and also serves as a buyer alongside her business partner, Marta Fernandez, who helms the SF location. Despite the distance, agreeing on creative decisions comes easy for the duo, who operate on the same wavelength both mentally and aesthetically.
“We travel a lot together to find brands, and we’re insane,” said Hirsch. “We bring this crazy energy — my heart will start beating, I’ll get weak in the knees. We get so excited over the pieces. We’re screaming and trying things on.” Hirsch stands by everything you’ll find in the store, “If you see it on the rack, we’ve probably at one point screamed and fallen to the floor over it.”
It’s warranted. Voyager carries some majorly lust-worthy pieces — from the structurally daring to the minimally modern — by cult brands like Henrik Vibskov and Norse Projects, as well as local favorites like Shaina Mote and Black Crane. The shop also carries more obscure indie brands, many of which are unavailable elsewhere. This is one of the few places in L.A. where you’ll find collections from the likes of Achro and Ashley Rowe, as well as a large selection of gorgeous, handmade items from California makers like Totem, Crescioni, and Are Studio.
In addition to sourcing brands, Hirsch and Fernandez design and produce their own pieces for Voyager’s in-house collection, Equals. Small runs of minimal clothing made with silk, linens, and most recently, hand-woven baby alpaca wool, are released each season, and so far,it’s opened up new possibilities for faraway communities. Their alpaca collection was made in collaboration with Mothers in Action, a fair trade apparel producer based in Peru. The collective gives single Peruvian mothers the agency to work from home as artisans, improving their working conditions and family lives.
As local buzz and foot traffic starts to pick up, Hirsch’s main goal is to build and strengthen the community, similar to what Voyager’s flagship store has done for San Francisco’s maker scene. Expect launch parties, gallery shows, and a seasonal pop-up series featuring local, up-and- coming designers.
“We want to incorporate art, design, aesthetic, community, beliefs — all of that together,” said Hirsch. “It’s not just beautiful clothes on a hanger.”
Written by Sophie He
Photographed by Natasha Lee