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Interview: Monocle Founder Tyler Brûlé Enjoys LA Money. The City? Not So Much.

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He may not be quite the household name of such iconic magazine personalities as Tina Brown, Graydon Carter and Anna Wintour, but Tyler Brûlé is without a doubt flying in the same airspace. The jet-setting editor and entrepreneur started his career as a reporter for the BBC before launching the popular design and travel magazine, Wallpaper, in 1996. Brûlé sold the mag to Time Inc. in 2002, but in 2007 launched Monocle, an ambitious global publication that covers everything from business and culture, to design and travel. There’s even a Japanese manga comic in every issue. As a close friend said when I described the hefty publication to him, “Jeez, does it also come with pie?”Brûlé has overseen the rapid growth of Monocle while also running a full-service branding and design agency and writing “Fast Lane,” the weekly Financial Times column in which he chronicles his globe-trotting escapades in search of the latest and greatest high-end consumer goods.

This week, Monocle opened the second of its retail outlets at the Brentwood Country Mart. At only 115 square feet, the tiny shop is where visitors can find every issue of the magazine, as well as stationary, designer bags and other Monocle approved goods. More exciting than the shop itself was that Brûlé himself flew into town to serve as host for the launch. He sat down with LAist to discuss his decision to open up shop in LA, the city in general and how Monocle has engineered such a successful launch during one of the most tumultuous times in print media history.

Why did you choose LA as the locale for the second Monocle store?
TB: I think part of it is opportunity and, like anything, serendipity as well. We were here before Christmas. We do very well on the east coast but I would say newsstand sales are quieter on the West coast. So we thought, why not actually bolster it up slightly by seeing its potential for retail? So we looked around and then we just happened to come here for lunch and I thought, this place has a similar vibe to Marylebone in London, albeit in an LA format. And here we are.

Why this particular location? Brentwood’s not considered the hippest place. Did you consider other areas?
TB: No. Very Monocle, sort of like a singular view. I think that in terms of the profile, the area that we’re in London has a demographic profile very similar to this area in many respects. Income. Profession. I mean, this place also has a different life in the sense that we’re not on the street. And that’s the thing that I struggle with in Los Angeles. It’s very hard to find any area that has a density in terms of a community feeling. Everything is so spread out. And quite simply as well, it was great to find a space this size, which is super. Our shop in London is the exact same size. This may even be bigger than our London shop.