800 Very Unsquare Feet describes Free City Supershop, an unorthodox Malibu retail space, as “a new shopping experience equal in its fun and sense of surprise to that of Whole Foods or Apple.” Owner Nina Garduno’s mantra is “make things with the simplest elements with the highest of possibilities.” She differentiates the store from larger competitors by emphasizing attention to detail, authenticity, and faith.

Free City Supershop Free City Supershop

According to Ms. Garduno, Free City is profitable. It took her eight days, working with a shoestring budget and a small team in her workshop in Hollywood, to create the store’s interior, which features redwood shelves and blowups of album covers. Like everything else about Free City, the design follows Ms. Garduno’s mantra to “make things with the simplest elements with the highest of possibilities.”...

“The big companies were taking the importance of fashion away, the craft, and making it about price,” she said…For something to be perceived as authentic, that value has to be communicated cleanly through every detail — from the quality of the wash, if it’s a T-shirt, to the integrity of the physical environment. This is the almost visceral sense you get when you enter Free City. Not to sound crunchy, but you feel the love.

“Well, go look at the Gap. They claim to not want to rip you off, but the fact is they do. And it’s not working for them — not even lifting my ideas, and with all of their money and art direction. They still don’t have faith. They don’t have faith in themselves, and it comes out instinctually in the product. I think people know the difference.”

More on tees and details
And speaking of tees and communicating quality through detail: Threadless, dissatisfied with existing options for blank tees, recently decided to start manufacturing its own.

These shirts are based on our experience as a tee shirt company, and the feedback we’ve gotten from our community since the beginning of Threadless. Imagine a tee that is less boxy than a Fruit of the Loom, but not as skinny as an American Apparel. Imagine a tee whose fabric is softer than American Apparel but not as thin.

Great example of paying attention to core detail (people may like the designs but if the shirts don’t fit right, it’s all moot) and knowing what your community wants (Fruit of the Loom = too boxy, American Apparel = too thin). Plus, there’s something Apple-esque here in the way Threadless didn’t just accept the limits of existing manufacturers and decided to find their own (better) solution.

7 reasons why Threadless rules [SvN]
The man behind Apple’s design magic [SvN]: “Apple’s efforts to discover new materials and production processes enables them to build things no one else can build.”