This article was published online on February 6, 2021.
Last February, on a sunny afternoon in West Hollywood, two girls with precise eye makeup paused on Melrose Avenue and peered in the windows of a building whose interior was painted a bright, happy pink. Two pink, winged unicorns flanked racks of clothes: ribbed crop tops, snakeskin-print pants, white sleeveless bodysuits. One of the girls tugged on the door, then frowned. It was locked, which was weird. She tugged again. Inside, a broad-chested security guard regarded them impassively from behind a pink security desk.
Erin Cullison, the U.S. public-relations rep for PrettyLittleThing, a fast-fashion brand founded in 2012, watched the girls give up and walk away. She sighed. Although the West Hollywood showroom closely resembles a store, it is not, in fact, a store. It is not open to the public; the clothes on the racks don’t have price