This week we take a look at some unique retail interiors as we examine the changing face of fashion retail design. This high-end market is focused on creating unique customer experiences and bespoke retail journeys as these three stores show:
Paul Smith’s flagship London store in Albermarle Street, W1 features a striking interior to present a mixture of fashion, furniture and art. Smith recently extended his existing store into this space after buying the building next door and connecting the two with a cast-iron facade – in an ambitious project with 6a architects.
“The exterior is exciting and unique” He explains. “I don’t think there’s another cast-iron shop front in central London. It’s got a sense of humour, too – there are little drawings of mine showing a cat, a bird and a boot, if you can spot them.”
The women’s clothing area takes its inspiration from the sculptural forms of Barbara Hepworth and painter Ben Nicholson. The clothes are displayed in order of colour rather than type which draws the eye and enhances the artistic effect.
The two building are connected by a tunnel which is also used as an exhibition area along with the basement which houses a pop-up art gallery.
One of Smith’s favourite room is the shoe department, which he refers to as the ‘Domino Room’ as 26,000 dominoes have been glued to the wall:
“I always try to have one area in my shops that has really taken effort. You could spend ten minutes here or two hours – there’s just so much to look at.”
Matches No. 23
Set in a Georgian townhouse in Marylebone, Matches 23 is all about decadence. Visitors are greeted with wafts of perfume from scented candles burning outside the store as they arrive at this exclusive ‘private shopping’ store. Once inside, customers are welcomed with tea or champagne and the emphasis here is on establishing a relationship with clients, as head of PR, Jess Christie, explains:
“We really want to make clients feel like they are coming into the home of Matches…the house was decorated by co-founder Tom Chapman, who had a lot of fun sourcing every single piece of furniture and lighting. It’s a relaxing, discreet environment and a convenient way to shop.”
Unlike Paul Smith, the only thing on sale here is Matches’ fabulous clothes, which are presented on rose-gold plated rails – although customers often enquire about the luxurious vintage furniture on display it is not for sale. Christie explains that their willingness to please meant they kept selling their furniture to customers anyway – until one day they realised every chair had been sold and they had nowhere to sit! Now the focus in their home-from-home is purely on fashion retail, allowing the clothes to take centre stage.
Anya Hindmarch has an ambitious expansion plan for her chain of 56 stores. She wants customers to be able to get involved with the design of their luxury leather goods so that each piece feels unique and personal to them, as she explains:
“If something is made especially for you, it’s worth more than the sum of the parts. the reaction you get when you deliver the finished piece is so exciting because it just has so much more value.”
Ilse Crawford of ELLE Decoration was drafted in to create an ambience of chic and comfortable style which has been rolled out to two stores so far. Both shops feature a studio area where apron-clad craftsmen create the personalised products based on customer’s bespoke orders, featuring different shapes, colours, leathers and various types of stitch.
“I always dreamed of having craftsmen in the store to connect people back to the workmanship. They are the real heroes in the story and watching them work is fascinating, the detailing is what I find thrilling!”
A recent investment means that Hindmarch has big plans for expansion afoot – both with the studio areas and opening more stores so this is obviously a retail idea that has gone down well with her customers so far.