At a time when most of us are staying in, we’ve decided to have a look at some successful clothing store design ideas and concepts with a virtual tour of a variety of innovative and inspiring fashion stores.
Over the past year the fashion industry has begun adapting to meet consumer needs more than ever before – as many shoppers reject ‘fast fashion’ in favour of sustainable, ethical brands. Stores are being designed to support omnichannel activity – acknowledging that most customers begin browsing online; either seeing what is a available on different stores websites or seeking inspiration on social media – before coming into physical stores to try on clothes or or make a purchase.
Many brands have embraced the use of apps and messaging systems to interact with customers and create novel experiences that encourage them to visit stores. Successful fashion retailers now view every customer interaction as an opportunity for brand marketing that enables them to connect with customers and create inclusive tribes.
Speaking to The Week, Adam Levene, founder of e-commerce app ‘Hero’ suggests that an understanding of the relationship between digital and physical stores is key:
“Most consumers are going to start their journey online somehow, be that in marketplaces, directly on the website or on Instagram. These are very powerful channels to bring those customers in-store.”
Sustainability is also a key area for growth – both for high street fashion stores and luxury fashion brands. With designers like Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham experiencing losses over the past year the industry is starting to re-examine it’s values in order to adapt and survive.
Pop-up stores are still proving popular, offering a great way to test a minimum viable product (MVP) or trial new clothing store design ideas, without too much outlay. So, let us begin with a look at how one luxury fashion pop-up has been responding to new trends in retail and the shift from fast fashion to conscious consumerism.
1. The Sustainable Pop-Up: My Wardrobe HQ at Liberty London
Last month Liberty London hosted a fashion rental pop-up with ‘My Wardrobe HQ’ (MWHQ) where visitors could hire luxury fashion items via a unique ‘rent or buy’ scheme. Unlike most fashion rental schemes, renters who really loved an item they hired were able to buy it and keep it too. Describing the system, MWHQ chair Jane Shepherdson lifted the lid on her experience with sustainable brands, suggesting that fast fashion is killing the planet:
“I’ve visited a lot of supposedly sustainable brands but a lot of them are not really sustainable. They’re just adding to the pile.”
Speaking to Retail Week, MWHQ Founder Sacha Newell agreed that consumers have reached what she describes as ‘Peak Stuff Syndrome’:
“Most people are looking to streamline their lives, valuing experiences over things. With renting, fashion lovers get to constantly change their look at a fraction of the price and without the guilt of endless garments going into landfill.”
In terms of concept, we think we are going to see a lot more fashion rental concessions and pop-ups like this as consumers swing towards ethical and sustainable clothing choices. As a retail design, the pop-up is only in situ for 6 weeks so the design is simple and the main features of the store are the colourfully curated rails of clothes, arranged around a large patterned sofa and Persian rug. A branded mirror and a vintage furniture add some variation to the space, which is surrounded wooden panels painted in a complimentary shade of dusty blue, with a padded blue window seat recessed into one of the store’s famous leaded windows.
The pop-up is in situ until 31st March 2020 but you can expect to see much more from My Wardrobe HQ who, along with other luxury fashion rental brands like Hurr are blazing a trail that others will be sure to follow.
2. The Fashion Brand Restaurant: Gucci Osteria, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
It’s not just the proposition of rentals that are turning the tide for luxury fashion brands. Many are branching out into branded restaurants too, as Alasdair Lennox, creative director at Fitch explains:
“Twenty years ago, the easiest and cheapest way to buy into a luxury fashion brand was through their sunglasses or fragrance lines – you might not have been able to afford a thousand-pound suit, but maybe you could afford to spend £50 on a perfume or £100 on a pair of sunglasses – that’s all changing now.”
As consumers seek out experiences, luxury brands have cottoned on to the desires of a generation that prefers ‘doing’ to ‘having’ (and sharing it on Instagram) by creating their own branded hospitality spaces. Although these aren’t actually clothing store design ideas per se, we felt compelled to include one in our round-up as the idea behind it is a superb exercise in brand marketing and the concept is obviously working as Burberry, Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are all doing the same thing and opening branded restaurants too. None of these brands want to give up fashion and focus on food – but they see it is a chance to emphasise their values and encourage an exclusive tribe of followers. Perhaps Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham need to follow suit?
So that’s the concept – but what about the design? The newly-opened Gucci Osteria in Rodeo Drive oozes sophisticated glamour. Situated on the third floor terrace above the Gucci store, visitors can dine at eye level with the tops of the palm trees that line the famous shopping strip. The styling suggests opulent Hollywood 1930s retro glamour with marble tiled walls, patterned mosaic and wooden parquet floors, potted tropical plants and bold pops of colour with aqua highlights.
Inside the seating area features high-backed red velvet upholstered sofas set into textured gold walls. The design seems very in keeping with the location – contrasting sharply with the design of the Gucci Osteria in Florence, Italy which offers a modern twist on a classical setting with lime green painted panels and turquoise velvet upholstery.
Speaking to Design Week about the rise in high fashion restaurants, Lennox suggests that the goal is to create a ‘shrine’ to the brand, without being over the top:
“These restaurants are essentially cathedrals to their label. It’s not so much about walking into an advert as it is more about designing an experience that explores the nuances of its relationship with consumers.
“45% of millennials value experience over buying things – where once a young person might have bought Gucci, now they want to go to a Gucci restaurant to have a multi-sensory experience.”
These spaces allow consumers to spend time with the brand like they never have before, whilst retaining the air of exclusivity which can be found across the high fashion industry. He predicts that the trend for ‘ownable experiences’ will continue to grow in popularity as consumers continue to distance themselves from traditional shopping habits:
“In an experience economy, memories are valuable commodities.”
3. The Cool Indie Fashion Label with a Cafe (and Homeware): Modern Society, Shoreditch
Back to London and staying with a fashion brand that includes a café in it’s offer – but not as part of an ‘exclusive experience.’ Listed by the Guardian as one of the UK’s best fashion boutiques, Modern Society started out with a series of pop-up stores in 2013, before opening their flagship – fusing fashion, lifestyle, art and food – in Shoreditch in 2015. A year later they launched their own fashion label and in 2018 they opened their second store in L.A.
The store’s clientele is split evenly between male and female, they design with both sexes in mind with a range of clothes that don’t adhere to traditional fashion seasons with new items added to the range all year round, as owner Nazifa Movsoumova explains:
“We are in a prime location, near Shoreditch House and Jasper Conran’s Boundary hotel, so we see a lot of tourists at the weekend. Weekdays are when our regulars return to the café and to check out the new drops.”
In addition to the clothes the store also features a thriving café and they sell home ware, crystals, stationery and other interesting things. The store design is as eclectic as the offering but it works, handpainted upcycled furniture is mixed with crystal chandeliers, a bold check-tiled floor and bar area leading to a mezzanine area at the back of the store. There are pot plants dotted around a central vintage display table with grey walls and floating shelves giving the place a welcoming feel. The fact that this amazing international brand started as a pop-up selling other branded fashion shows just how vital the use of pop-ups are when getting a foothold in our industry – and what you can achieve with a little vision, a great location and some loyal locals.
4. The Boutique that feels like home: Black White Denim, Wilmslow, Cheshire
Located in exclusive Wilmslow, Cheshire, Black White Denim is another shop nailing the small clothing store design. The interior of the store has changed over the years from a more traditional clothing store style to something more personal which owner Jo Davies describes as an ‘extension of her home:’
“There’s so much anonymity now in online shopping that I think our customers really like the whole relationship element of the purchase in our store. My shop has become a bit of an extension of my home. It’s a bit like having the front door open, the kettle and a load of clothes people want to try on.”
Natural wooden floors and white painted walls present shelving units created from upcycled wooden crates, stone ornaments and pot plants, with comfy-looking orange velvet armchairs creating a homely feel.
5. The High Street Chain with Individuality: Jigsaw in Cobham and Shrewsbury
Jo’s design for Black White denim is reminiscent of our store design for Jigsaw in Cobham, Surrey. Each Jigsaw store is designed to complement the building it is situated in – so they don’t have that identikit chain feel of some high street brands. This is evident when you compare the Cobham design (which was shortlisted for a Retail Week Interiors Award) with our design for Jigsaw in Shrewsbury which is located in an 18th century Grade II listed building in the town square, right at the centre of the historic market town.
We were asked to create a design for Shrewsbury that would enhance the design of the building, whilst also fitting in with its surroundings and the rich cultural heritage of the area. Upon examining the site, we discovered a series of original architectural features, which had previously been covered up, including some interesting brick-lined arched windows that we decided to develop into a key focal point within the store. The windows let in natural light at the rear of the shop, enticing customers to come right into the store and spend more time browsing the items on display.
You can see from these pictures the contrast in the two clothing store design ideas – the stores both have an inviting and classy feel, but they are both different as well, creating more of a boutique atmosphere than you might find in other similar high street stores.
6. The Spectacle Store: Angels in Dubai
We have enjoyed working with a lot of high street fashion retailers like Jigsaw over the years, including Diesel, SikSilk, Simply Be, Jacamo, Farah, American Apparel, Pineapple and Bench but one of our favourite clothes shop designs that we have worked on was Angels – a kids clothing store in the Dubai Mall, UAE.
The store design was developed in partnership with Dubai-based AW Rostamani Group, who wanted a new brand identity and flagship store concept for the Angels kidswear brand. Having seen our work with the Discovery Channel and Emaar Store in Dubai – featuring the world’s largest retail media screen and a walk-through aquarium – AW Rostamani wanted something with a similar level of impact. The sense of something that had not been done before, ‘at the forefront of something new.’
Our brief was to create an exciting and magical shopping experience for both tourists and locals. Dubai is a hotspot for international luxury travel and we wanted this store to be a talking point and something that visitors with children would seek out on a trip to the mall. Inside the store there are jars of sweets and video screens set into the tables in a comfy seating area where children can enjoy themselves within clear view of their parents as part of the uncluttered, open plan design. At the front of the store there is a huge pair of giant Angel wings where people can pose for selfies which have proved very popular.
The Angels store demonstrates a shift from shopping as an activity to shopping as an experience – something that has been described as a ‘spectacle store’ – like the refitted Louis Vuitton store on X street that we blogged about last year which features carefully curated installations and art works from Tracey Emin and Jim Lambie, to name but a few. Like the designer restaurants, these stores are offering unique experiences, a chance to take photos and make memories and they are responding to the shifting values of the fashion retail industry in a way that surprises and delights their customers.
Clothing Store Design Ideas
We’ve only looked at six stores this week but we’ve covered a lot of ground. Clearly sustainability, experiential shopping, brand marketing and spectacle stores are key trends and it is refreshing to see more and more high street retailers creating variation in their stores – and not just in fashion retail – this is something we acknowledged last month in our piece about coffee shop design. We know these are troubling times but it has never been a better time to take stock and look back at past successes. It has given us all time to think and reflect and start planning and preparing so that retailers can come back stronger, with clearer goals and beautiful, sustainable store designs – ready to start developing your next project? Give us a call!