Emily Current (left) and Meritt Elliott at their newly opened The Great. outpost on Abbot Kinney Boulevard PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROGER DAVIES
Best friends and business partners for decades, Emily Current and Meritt Elliott of The Great. talk expansion and the importance of IRL retail, and share their latest style selections.
While the retail landscape has shifted to favor e-commerce over the past several years—and especially during the pandemic—The Great. cofounders Emily Current and Meritt Elliott are swimming against the tide with their business plans. “We’re definitely looking to open probably 20 stores in the next 18 to 20 months,” says Current. “Our philosophy is to open stores in our key markets where our customers are.”
After meeting in 1995 as students at UCLA—where they bonded over their love of Americana, vintage and denim—the Northern California natives launched CURRENT/ELLIOT, kicking off the world’s obsession with the Boyfriend Jean. After selling the brand, they launched The Great. in 2015. At first, the vintage-inspired denim, soft tees, and embroidered dresses and tops were only sold online or at other top-tier retailers, but in 2018, The Great.’s first store opened on Melrose Avenue. And, in late 2021, Current and Elliott opened a second boutique in a historic 1910 house on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. “The same owner lived here since 1971,” says Current. “Because it’s historical, we didn’t want to do a lot to the property. So we worked with what was here and made it feel like a homey store, and worked with Brigette Romanek on the decor.”
Consisting of a wide selection of the brand’s pieces for both men and women, the shop also offers vintage clothing and jewelry, and an expanded selection of home goods. “We’ve always had some home items at the Melrose store,” says Elliott. “But this [larger space] opened up the opportunity for so much more.” In addition to the main floor, there’s a loft area for VIP dressing and an outdoor space with a guesthouse in the back.
After a successful collaboration with Eddie Bauer in November, The Great. will launch a second this spring. And, two more The Great. stores will open soon, at The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge and Lido Marina Village. “We always want to be near good food,” says Elliott. “Then it can be a full experience—shop, get a great coffee, go to dinner.”
The duo is currently looking for the perfect Northern California spot for the next The Great. boutique, and is also busy with some other upcoming launches—details forthcoming. “People are still shopping and wanting an experience where you can explore and discover,” says Elliot. “In a store, you can touch and feel and find the unexpected.” thisisthegreat.com
“This is the best pick-me-up! It’s very L.A. of me.” Erewhon Life Force shot, shop. erewhonmarket.com “All checks, all the time. These towels make me happy!” Baina Roman pool towels, nickeykehoe.com “This zip-front cotton sweater has vintage cowboy references and adds a bit of flavor to spring dresses.” The Great. Ranch cardigan in nude with red rose, thisisthegreat.com “I am in love with the shape of these glasses and the two-tone checkerboard is fun and surprisingly easy to wear!” VADA Kaubōi 2-Tone sunglasses, vadajewelry.com “These loafers are ridiculously comfortable and perfectly nostalgic. I wear them with socks and dresses.” Jamie Haller loafer in oxblood, shop-jamiehaller.com “Cadence capsules are functional and perfect for my rather robust supplement regimen.” keepyourcadence.com “I keep vials of this functional de-stressing fragrance in my desk, bag, bedside table.” The Nue Co. Functional fragrance, thenueco.com “I have Birkenstocks on most days of the week and these Boston [clogs] are a beautiful neutral color that feels fresh and clean!” Birkenstock 1774 Collection Boston suede and leather clogs in nude, birkenstock.com PORTRAIT BY ROGER DAVIES; SUNGLASSES PHOTO COURTESY BY CYDNEY COSETT E HOLM; BIRKENSTOCK PHOTO COURTESY OF BIRKENSTOCK ABBOT KINNEY; ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS
“Sometimes I can only manage a few moments of self-care. The Plantfolk body butter (we sell this line at our stores!) is a million moments in one.” Plantfolk Apothecary Nectar of the Trees body butter, plantfolkapothecary.com “I have owned the same pair of classic Birkenstocks since high school. They are so worn and perfect and have seen me through so many good outfits (and milestones)!” Birkenstock Arizona sandals, birkenstock.com “I wear this fanny pack across my chest for easy access.” Clare V. fanny pack in cream woven checker, clarev.com “Endlessly inspired by the West, I love a head-to-toe denim look that only gets better with wash and wear.” The Great. Fern top in navy chambray and Safari jean in Blue Grass wash, thisisthegreat.com “My bedroom is often a catchall of piles of denim and tees. This handmade chair makes it feel like a beautiful and intentional resting stop for my favorite things.” Saffron Poe leather sling lounge chair, saffronandpoe.com “This felted Western-inspired hat is just nuanced enough in shape and texture to feel elevated yet classic. I wear this with abandon.” Janessa Leoné Brooks hat, janessaleone.com “I never take off this vintage-inspired calendar necklace. All three of my kids’ (Lyric’s, Wolfe’s and Boone’s) birthdays are marked with gems, and I wear it close to my heart.” Zahava calendar necklace, zahava.com PORTRAIT BY ROGER DAVIES; CHAIR PHOTO BY ROBERT VENTE PHOTO; ALL PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS