In this month’s stores we love, we head to London’s most sustainable street, join in Selfridges’ Music Matters celebration, check out G-Shock’s Carnaby Street homecoming and take a look at Sephora and Birkenstock’s changing formats.
Selfridges’ Music Matters campaign is a reaction to 40% of London’s music venues closing in the last 10 years. From July to October Selfridges will be hosting gigs in its new UltraLounge and 20% of the ticket sales go to the Music Venues trust.
What we love
The concept. Although Selfridges is supporting the live music cause, it’s also making the most of the lack of venues by opening the UltraLounge – lending it a cool edge on its competitors. Guests get three free drinks with each ticket and are encouraged to explore upstairs where of-the-moment Peckham record shop Rye Wax has set up shop amongst rows of stellar men’s contemporary brands. By using cross-department merchandising and clever VM – such as the cassette tapes that frame collections in the Women’s department to the exclusive Sgt Pepper products that are enlivened with real memorabilia – Selfridges’s once again has done a brilliant job of ensuring Music Matters can be felt in every part of the store and guests are truly immersed in the initiative.
The space. The UltraLounge is the UK’s only in-store live music venue. Situated on the lower ground floor, its unique design, created by The Experience Machine Studio, comprises a modular structure of gauze, mirrors and lighting that’s designed to display dreamy projections. At only 352m2, the intimate space ensures guests feel like they’re part of something special.
The talent. The UltraLounge was opened by A$AP Rocky and is about to be graced by other big names such as Skepta and Joe Goddard. The initiative also champions up-and-coming artists through a host of New Music nights.
Nestled between Selfridges and Oxford Street, this unassuming London backstreet has been transformed into the UK’s first sustainable, smart street. Bird Street is brimming with innovative pop-ups and inspiring uses of technology.
What we love
The directional technology. The streetlights are powered by pedestrians’ footsteps using a technology called Pavegen, as is the tranquil bird song that’s chirped out from speakers. Amazingly the paint is designed to purify the air and passers by are encouraged to sit on a bespoke bench created by environmental company CleanAir and breathe in the filtered atmosphere. It really is an Oasis of calm.
It’s a glimpse into the future. Funded by The New West End Company and Transport for London’s Future Streets Incubator scheme, Bird Street is demonstrating what shopping environments could look like in the future. In fact, The West End Company’s ultimate goal is to inspire whole cities to take on this model.
The stores. Housed in the origami-style blue and pink pop-up huts is a great mix of brands, from boutique The Dandy Lab to inspiring fashion label Ethical Stories Ethical Me. Each one has embraced the street’s point-based payment system (the Pavegen technology tracks customers steps, for every 100 steps they get 100 points which can go towards a purchase) and The Dandy Lab is piloting a new mobile-only form of transaction.
G-Shock returns to its Carnaby street roots with a new store. The arresting design combines the brand’s utilitarian heritage with a sleek modern sensibility.
What we love
The ‘unbreakable’ interior design. Brand founder, Kikuo Ibe created G-Shock with the aim to make an unbreakable watch. This spirit is reflected in the stark, contemporary interior that’s clad in industrial concrete, accented with stainless steel and finished with horology-inspired ceiling graphics.
The focus on experience. Operating on two levels, the store’s basement doubles as an event space that’s geared up to host dinners, collection launches and press days. Many flagships, from our Jigsaw emporium to the new Rag & Bone opening, have adopted this model. It’s a clever way of ensuring a store becomes a destination in its own right.
The creative visual merchandising. Providing light relief from the stark interior is playful VM. For instance, the deep-sea product range is displayed alongside diving equipment, plastic underwater figurines and oversized goggles. The handmade in Japan Mr-G collection is displayed beside streamlined samurai swords – their tough yet elegant aesthetic inspired the watch designs.
Birkenstock Mobile Box
Birkenstock’s unique mobile box pop-up will be travelling around the world in collaboration with top boutiques. First stop Berlin, where it will remain throughout Fashion Week.
What we love
It challenges traditional formats. The idea behind Birkenstock’s latest venture is to start a dialogue between influential retailers and the brand. The Berlin pop-up is part of a collaboration with Andreas Murkudis’s store Bikini Berlin (heralded as the original concept store) and is a thoughtful way of raising Birkenstock’s profile amongst the boutique’s discerning consumers.
The modern reworking of house codes. Created from a shipping container that’s clad in high-shine stainless-steel, the space has an undeniably modern appearance. The cork interior feels as ultra-contemporary as the slick exterior, however it also references Birkenstock’s iconic footbeds – a brand signature since the 1930s.
The product offer. The mobile box offers the brand’s hallmark footwear in a host of refreshed, vibrant colourways and is also the only place to buy Murkudis’s exclusively designed Amazon sandals. At each of the box’s destinations new exclusive products will be available, lending the space an extra-special feel.
Beauty giant Sephora has made the astute choice to open a small-format store, Sephora Studio, in a bid to stay ahead of the curve.
What we love
It’s a directional move. Sephora knows the retail industry is rapidly changing and customers’ value experiences and a personal touch more than ever before. This new Studio format will be key to staying relevant to its target customers. Calvin McDonald, CEO said “In today’s retail environment, there is no better way to create meaningful connections with clients than through a customised approach to beauty” We could not agree more.
The boutique feel. The new stores are around 2000sq feet (about half the size of a typical Sephora store) and offer a best-of edit that’s complemented with elevated services. Customers will be able to enjoy a range of beauty treatments, makeup tutorials, mini facials and full makeovers.
The use of digital. Beyond the omni-channel services, such as same-day pickup for online orders, there are a host of exciting digital elements to enhance the shopping experience. We love the Moisture Meter and Skincare IQ Quiz’s focus on holistic beauty and aim to educate customers on which products are right for them.