This month stores we love spotlights a conceptual Chinese underwear brand, a bold no-frills beauty company and a heritage denim brand’s unexpected leap into hospitality. Plus we look at the ‘menaissance’ taking place on London’s Henrietta Street.
Cotton Republic Beijing
This Chinese/British underwear brand has recently opened its first flagship store in Beijing. The store balances bold and minimal design beautifully.
What we love
The dramatic exterior. It has a yellow and pink basket-inspired structure that’s designed to loop around the space like a rollercoaster. The structure provides an effective frame for the product and is perfectly offset by a swirling monochrome floor that’s reminiscent of traditional Chinese Shan Shui ink paintings – a perfect clash of futuristic and traditional Eastern design.
The installation-like product display. Underwear is unusually displayed on wooden vinyl disks to signpost which style is housed in the cylinder packaging beneath. Each product has its own brightly hued or patterned packaging that’s neatly stacked on the shelves. We love that this sleek, minimal visual merchandising is more reminiscent of a gallery space than a shop.
It’s a flexible space. All the functional features such as the cashier desks, shelving units, and vertical sock displays come in nondescript white vinyl and can be moved easily around the store. This enables the brand to create an ever-changing layout.
25hour hotel by Levis
Iconic American denim brand Levis has teamed up with hotel franchise 25hours to create its own Frankfurt-located hotel. Levis amplifies 25hours’ cool, eclectic aesthetic by throwing its own recognisable design codes into the mix.
What we love
The nod to the brand’s heritage. Levis has put its stamp on the hotel franchise’s typically riotous and fun aesthetic with nods to classic denim designs. The rooms are painted in the same blue hue as the brand’s famous washes and some come with bleach and distressed-effect detailing.
The character. The rooms are brimming with carefully chosen objects and artefacts that pay homage to different 20th century culture movements and each comes with UE Boom speakers that can be taken outside, so people can enjoy a drink and music in the open air. With an Andy Warhol-themed music room in the basement and a bar that regularly hosts live DJ sets, it’s perfectly geared towards music lovers.
The concept. At first 25hours hotel and Levis may not make likely partners, however, they’re both targeting the same customer: an under-35 student or professional who’s unapologetically hip and an appreciator of nostalgic design. It’s an ingenious way of rooting Levis firmly in this target customer’s mind and builds brand advocacy.
Deciem, the Toronto-based self-described ‘abnormal beauty company’ recently opened its first store in Spitalfields London. It houses all of the company’s cult brands.
What we love
Its transparent brand values. Founder, Brandon Truaxe, has stated he ‘thinks the beauty industry is a scam’. This is not only reflected in the transparent messaging, minimal packaging and reasonably priced products starting at £4 (“there’s nothing luxurious about overpaying for commodity” says Truaxe) but also in the empowering slogans such as ‘beauty doesn’t wash off’ that are emblazoned across the walls.
The no-frills materials. Deciem believes skincare is a functional product and should be marketed seriously. The store’s interior is stripped-back with exposed brick and concrete walls, wooden floors and industrial display units. At the store’s centre is a reclaimed wood table where customers can test product and receive advice from staff.
The honest sales staff. Not only are the sales associates ultra-knowledgeable (they know their retinols from their retinoids), they never try to up-sell and instead urge the customer to buy the product that’s right for them – even if it’s a lot cheaper. We love this refreshingly human way of communicating with customers.
Jack & Jones Jeans Intelligence Studio Austria
Danish brand Jack & Jones’ builds on its successful Jeans Intelligence Studio stores with a third opening. Here the emphasis is on traditional craftsmanship and construction.
What we love
It’s unapologetically nerdy. The store hopes that customers won’t only leave with a pair of jeans but also with more ‘jeans intelligence’. The knowledgeable staff are on hand to not only educate customers on fit and construction but also aftercare, giving clear instructions on how to treat each pair so they last as long as possible.
The artisanal store design. The store is designed to look like a tailor’s workshop, featuring a denim bar with reams of jean fabric hanging behind and examples of stitching and riveting mounted on boards. 18 different styles of jeans are stacked in workbench-style units along the side.
The concept. We love that Jack & Jones has been brave enough to lend one part of its offering its own retail space. This hopefully will serve to build the denim range’s status and a strong voice of its own in the market.
Menswear on Henrietta Street
Under the stewardship of property developers Capco, Covent Garden has bloomed into a premium retail destination with Henrietta Street its menswear hub. Cult Parisian outerwear brand K-Way is the latest addition to the street’s roster of emerging and established brands, which includes the likes of Nigel Cabourn, Oliver Sweeney, Fred Perry and The Real Mccoy’s.
Part of something bigger…
It’s not just Henrietta Street that’s become a go-to destination for men. Covent Garden’s Seven Dials area is dominated by male-centric retail – London’s first grooming emporium for men, Beast, recently opened on Earlham Street and is joined by brands Le Coq Sportif, Carhartt Wip, Farah Menswear and Super Superficial.
With their zeitgeisty mix of elevated contemporary brands, destinations like Henrietta Street are finally challenging Savile Row’s position as London’s menswear heartland. A menaissance is well under way.