Not an easy time for bricks-and-mortar retailers! Retail giants across the world are well aware of the fact. While sales of online retail brands are growing in double digits, the physical stores are at a standstill. However, even as the digital world is continuously infiltrating the traditional stores, the offline retailers are working things up and innovating in ways more than one in order to entice their share of consumers to their doors. A number of brands and retail outlets are reimagining the physical store and are creating spaces where the virtual and physical meet. If this was not enough, a new trend in bricks-and-mortar retail has given rise to a surge in brands experimenting with concept stores, and not just the luxury ones. And this is showing a positive result as well. According to a report, more than 80 per cent of US retail sales in 2020 will happen at physical outlets.
The retail industry has understood the importance of being unique and different, a mantra that has recently become the core of many retailers, not only brands but also various isolated stores as well. General Electric, for example, is currently working with New York concept store Story as part of an exercise to promote one of its products. Story is built on the concept of treating retail as media, curating its merchandise every month and getting a brand to sponsor it. While retail analysts are buzzing about Nordstrom’s merchandise-free store concept, but the approach itself is hardly new. A number of major retailers and start-up fashion brands have pioneered the strategy and are excelling the ‘concept store’ trend in ways they can. From unique merchandise, quirky concepts to their sheer exclusivity, shoppers are drawn to the sui generis outlets for their experience. We present to you some stores from New York to Hong Kong, imbibing this trend.
The flagship on Fifth Avenue, New York offers the comfort of a library, a piping hot cup of coffee and an Art Deco fireplace in a ladies’ lounge as a gateway to a shopping spree.The multi-level space spanning across 20,000 sq ft. incorporates menswear, womenswear and accessories, with different aesthetics for each section. The store also has a resident florist, a library operated by iconic local bookseller, The Strand and a café run by Toby’s Estate Coffee.The plush decor draws inspiration from the history of the popular luxury stores on Fifth Avenue and has a mostly white palette, with Venatino marble flooring and Ionic columns on the ground floor. Floor-to-ceiling drapery, vintage furniture and silk rugs adorn the colossal ceilings and rooms.
It has managed to make itself distinguished not only in the world of fashion with various collaborations under its belt and its expansion into the accessories market, but also through the absolutely delightful customer experience it offers.
Shopping with a glass of fine Scotch seems like wishful thinking. Alfred Dunhill made many such dreams come true when it provided a fully stocked bar at its store. In a quiet locality away from the hustle-bustle of Shanghai, you’ll find a multitude of selective menswear, all the way from England. Encompassing half the Twin Villas, the store has dedicated rooms for different product categories, almost paralleling a museum of sorts.
With leather being its forte, Dunhill offers a wide range of luxury leather products and vintage luggage selected by ‘Bentleys’, an acclaimed antique store in London. The second floor boasts of the impressive Alfred Dunhill menswear emporium and formal tailoring which includes the White Shirt Bar and Bespoke Tailoring Room. In addition, the floor also houses a three-chair traditional English barber offering grooming space.
Gotstyle is a store that has much more to offer than just clothes. Sprawling across 7,000 sq. ft. in the Historic Distillery district, the store is a haven for young men looking to have a good time while shopping. From business, casual, formal to social looks, pick up whatever suits your fancy and head on towards a tour of the distillery. And whilst you grab a drink, enjoy the convenience of two lounge seating areas, flat screen TVs, a DJ booth besides an in-store barber shop and full spa. Apart from this, it also hosts legendary parties, fashion shows and in-store events.The store offers different brands for different body types, concentrating on local and international brands at an opening luxury price point.
Comme il Faut, Tel Aviv
It’s not just men who can savour in-store comforts. Commie il Faut offers a unique collection and ‘extraordinary fashion resource’ of local design talent created by 24 women in Tel Aviv that cater to all the needs of a woman. They target independent, self-aware, mature and confident women who believe in the timelessness of their clothes. Each of their 20-plus boutiques offer classic designs in sizes and shapes built to flatter all kinds of body types and also feature a spa boutique, accessories store and a restaurant.
Imogene + Willie
Built in a reclaimed 12South gas station in Nashville, this store takes you on a journey of jeans making. Founded by a couple whose passion lies in denim, one can find untreated and unwashed denim in their store. The store has sturdy and rough, although plain, pairs of denim, that give you a raw country feel and come with one year repair policy. This eclectic store has more than just jeans. You can buy clothes, home goods and random miscellaneous things from vintage magazines to vintage motorcycle helmets.
Founded in 1961, Jimmy Au’s located in Beverly Hills is a very unique store for the service it provides. It is the first and the only store in the world that makes designer clothing for short men, 5’8”and under. The store is specifically designed with shorter clients in mind, and hence comprises lowered shelves, fixtures and racks along with lowered custom furniture for a more enjoyable and comfortable shopping experience. Even its mannequins are custom-made to be of only 5’8″. Its clients feel a sense of comfort and are treated with complete dignity when they walk into this exclusive store. The store provides consultation services and a wide range to choose from.
Ralph Lauren, London
This Ralph Lauren store is unlike any other. Although, it isn’t as large as its Tokyo, New York, or Moscow stores, the London store has a lot to offer. The architecture and decor draws inspiration from the luxurious ocean liners of the 1920s, and possesses lavish detailing featuring a white marble fireplace, a drop beaded crystal chandelier, mahogany walls and a ship-style view of the floor. The store is a mesmerising experience while you shop for your polo T-shirts.
Wingtip is a modern social club that offers a curated range of luxury menswear. They are a refuge in the busy city of San Francisco, a place where you can feel comfortable and surrounded by the best that the world of fashion has to offer. It takes care of all the needs of men. You can buy custom clothing, professional and casual clothing, leather goods, barware, cufflinks, pens, cigar accessories, a barbershop and a shoe shine. There’s also a private club with a bar and lounge, private parlour room, wine locker, a boardroom, golf simulator and a wine cave. Wingtip is the epitome of luxury for the elite shoppers.
Opening Ceremony is a marriage of art and fashion. Encompassing a four-storey building in the crowded city of Tokyo, the architectural masterpiece has a unique theme flowing through each floor featuring Ben Day-inspired graphics and painted animal-shaped display cases. It’s like going through an art gallery while shopping for the clothing collections alongside collaboration with Chloe Sevigny, Yoko Ono, Adidas Originals, DKNY and G.V.G.V.