American Rag Cie, the superstar Los Angeles retailer that started small about 35 years ago, has grown to become an international institution in fashion, accessories and home goods. Founder Mark Werts and his buying team travel the world looking for the most unique, exclusive merchandise. They don’t just visit and bring back, the Werts team also exports California cool to Japan, China and Europe plus an in-house brand that catapults them out of their namesake store and into big box retailers.
And now, Mark Werts takes his coveted So Cal style to the next level. American Rag Cie has opened its doors at a 9300 square foot flagship in Dubai with 60 foot ceilings and a view of the Burj Khalifa. Sitting pretty on the second story of what is truly the busiest mall in the entire world, American Rag Cie, Dubai has every technological bell and whistle available and some you wouldn’t think existed. “It’s entertainment retail,” says Werts. “If you don’t entertain, no one will get off their couches to shop. But you have to have the money to do it. This isn’t for lightweights. We’ve done interactive billboards, dressing rooms that show you the clothing you’re trying on but in different colors, food and a restaurant on property, too.”
Werts says the store, even being as large as it is, still has the capability of closing itself off for security when a Sheik or prince comes to browse. This Dubai store is only the beginning for Werts in the Persian Gulf. Next up is Abu Dhabi or maybe even Kuwait. “They have money. They have a budget surplus,” he says. “In Dubai, for instance, companies aren’t taxed. This creates growth. You have to be part of the solution to feel ownership.”
Werts has been quietly revamping the company’s approach to Japan and China. In fact, when he isn’t traveling, he splits his home time between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. “Our offering in our LA store on La Brea has never been better,” he says. With this foray into the Middle East, Werts aims next for American Rag Cie stores in India. “We’re looking to 2020 and beyond. We can invest in these countries and experiment.”