This month’s Stores we love features highlights from a recent trip we made to Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, seeking out new and innovative concepts in Asia.
Gentle Monster – Shanghai
Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster is heavily influenced by Korean youth culture and its store in Shanghai is everything you’d expect and more from this highly disruptive and experiential brand. This striking Shanghai flagship is the next step in Gentle Monster’s global expansion – its bold interior makes quite the high-impact statement in and amongst the international fashion pack.
The concept is inspired by an artisan workshop and features a number of distinctly different rooms, each to completely shock and inspire the senses, in the best possible way. With every turn, there’s a unique setting that’s either functional or purely experiential, and this is what sets all of the brand’s stores apart – they’re all individually unique. This store is stocked with the brand’s full range of prescription eyewear and sunglasses alongside special collaborations with some undeniably cool brands, such as Hood by Air, Opening Ceremony, and Six Lee.
What we love:
We love this unbelievably bonkers glasses store, which is much more of a creative brand statement than a shop. Gentle Monster continues to stay true to its philosophy of ‘high-end experimentation’ and astonishes the world with its main five focuses: product, space, styling, culture redesign and technology. Quirky, playful and memorable, we’re totally intrigued to see what this creative brand will do next, to surprise and delight its customers and the industry alike. If only more brands were so brave…
White Atelier by Converse – Tokyo
Converse’s ‘studio shop’, White Atelier, is the brand’s first standalone in the country, and it aims to represent everything that goes into the Converse lifestyle. A relaxing white box space lets the products do the talking and the first floor is dedicated to an extensive line-up of the famous sneakers and some limited edition All Stars only sold at that store. But the best part is downstairs in the basement – an atelier where you can create your own one-of-a-kind All-Star design, tweaking it with text, patterns and colours before moving on to fine-tuning the laces and other accessories. And the basement is transformed into a workshop where creatives from Japan and further afield can host events.
What we love:
This brilliant concept store is fresh, unexpected and executed with obsessive attention to detail and world class service. Converse has expertly delivered a true experience idea, with a store dedicated to customisation – creating an inspirational space for fans to immerse themselves in the brand, spending time creating, having fun and leaving with something unique both in product and experience.
Pigment – Tokyo
Pigment was opened by Japanese company Warehouse Terrada as an ‘art supply laboratory’. Its aim is to connect manufacturers with emerging local artists, linking them back to traditional tools and techniques. Experts are on hand to give the artists advice on methods and products. The store is filled with over 4,000 pigments displayed along the perimeter to create a stunning dramatic backdrop, and, to contribute to this inspirational hub, regular workshops are held by art professors and suppliers, offering knowledge to anyone who wishes to attend.
What we love:
For us, this is one of the world’s most beautiful art stores, it’s an indulgent celebration of colour! The store is beautifully curated making the product the hero, encouraging the customer to browse and learn whilst making the whole store super photogenic. You could spend hours here rediscovering the joy of painting.
En Route – Tokyo
En Route is a concept store in Toyko’s Ginza district. Half shop, half training centre, the store caters to its local community of runners with some unique features. The store bridges fashion and sport and was perhaps one of the first to champion the athleisure/sports luxe hybrid, in collaboration with fashion powerhouse United Arrows. “No cars, no taxis, no buses, no trains” reads the mission statement. Just walking, cycling and running. And as the name suggests it’s all about direction and motivation, with recommended Tokyo running routes graphics positioned in-between the industrial fit and lines of international brands stocked.
What we love:
En Route doesn’t feel like a traditional sports store – it’s edgy, bold and cool, but has its community at the heart. The best thing is that the store has beautiful showers with natural products, and lockers – meaning customers can use the store as a base from which to run. There’s also a chalkboard showing relevant weather data for that day, along with polaroids from the local running community. It’s a local store for local people and we admire the conviction with which this concept is delivered.
Fendi – Tokyo
To celebrate Fendi’s 50th anniversary in Japan, the Italian powerhouse has opened a huge pop-up in the luxury shopping district of Ginza in Tokyo. Spread across three floors, the boutique is the first in Japan to showcase both men’s and women’s collections that comprise ready-to-wear pieces, leather goods and shoes as well as accessories.
The Ginza concept is based on the contemporary interpretation of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (Palace of Italian Civilisation), the new headquarters of the brand. The amusement park sophisticated appearance gives to the pop-up store a playful atmosphere curated in every detail. The store also features a botanical art piece, Fur Tree, created by Japanese artist Makoto Azuma, to celebrate the brand’s ties with Japan.
What we love:
The Fendi store really feels like it’s ramping up the playful side of this high-end brand. Like a temple to the Fendi pom-pom, the store provides happy moments throughout that encourage you to explore, such as a giant upside-down tree covered in pom-poms hanging over the stairs, a cinema, mini food trucks, again covered in pom-poms, and bizarre pom-pom inspired mannequins.
Queen Mama Market – Seoul
A must-see destination when in Seoul, there’s something for everyone in this seven-storey concept store filled with lifestyle products, furniture and high-end men’s and women’s fashion, not to mention a coffee shop on the roof, specialist tea bar and a book shop. Queen Mama Market wants to be known simply as an ‘urban lifestyle shop’. A beautiful, relaxed and dreamy space filled with trees and flowers, it’s a sanctuary away from the crowded city, a space for people to come together and connect over art, culture and fashion.
What we love:
There’s so much to discover in this unique, fresh oasis. Each floor has a different mix of vibes – beautiful, calm and serene in some rooms, while others are loud and party like. It totally exemplifies our Engaging Brands Time Well Spent topic, and that’s why we love it… the matcha scones are pretty great too.
Style Nanda Pink Hotel – Seoul
After launching the successful makeup line 3CE, the coolest South Korean fast fashion brand Style Nanda opened a flagship store concept in Myeongdong, Seoul, inspired by the Grand Budapest Hotel.
The five-storey pink store makes quite the statement, and certainly stands out among the crowd, not only from the outside but also inside. Its interior mirrors that of a hotel, with charming touches throughout the store, such as concierge desks, room keys hung on the wall and a buffet filled with makeup and cosmetic accessories. The 2nd floor features a spa that has a lavish 1950s movie star dressing room feel, which includes a bath, mirrors and velvet cushioned seats, for customers to test and try on products at their own leisure.
The 3rd and 4th floors are filled with the brand’s clothing line and continues with the hotel theme, with hotel room doors and a laundry room with lots of fun VM moments.
At the top there’s a pink cafe, inspired by an American 1950s pool area and a relaxed roof terrace with great views.
What we love:
This is a world class disruptive store that exemplifies what it means to be a true concept store. A perfect balance of beautifully refined details and lighthearted play, it’s a real destination in Seoul and a store where you just can’t help but smile!