Women often talk about their love of heels, but unless you’re at a budget store–like Payless Shoe Source or Target–actually buying a pair in person can be an incredibly awkward experience.
Think about the last time you went to a department store or shoe shop: You take off your shoes, exposing your bare feet to the shop assistant. Then, you sit there while he or she runs to the back to get you different styles in your size. If the store gets crowded, you’re acutely aware of monopolizing the one person who can help you, so you probably buy the first pair that seems to vaguely meet your needs.
Not at Tamara Mellon‘s store. The luxury shoe designer has observed this subpar experience closely. She previously cofounded Jimmy Choo, which has a network of dozens of stores around the world, before launching her own eponymous, digitally native startup.
Earlier this year, Mellon raised a $24 million Series B round of funding, bringing her total funding to $37 million. She is now using some of this money to open physical retail locations. Her first brick-and-mortar store just opened in Palisades Village, California, and she’s trying something new.
The store looks a little like an art gallery, with shoes lining the walls. But unlike your typical designer shoe shop, every single size is on display. You find the area of the store with your size in it, then you can sit in front of that section to try every single pair of shoes Mellon has designed that season.
It blends the kind of self-service and browsing customers are used to experiencing on the internet with the trappings of a luxury store–like leather seating, lots of shop assistants ready to answer questions, and an architect-designed interior.