This month, we’re focusing on the best department stores have to offer right now. From Selfridge’s multi-channel luxury campaign to Nordstrom's men’s only outlet, Harrods charity shop and new kid on the block Forty Five Ten. Plus we look at how square footage is being innovatively repurposed.
Preferring the title ‘cultural totem’ to ‘department store’, Forty Five Ten is bringing a whole new attitude to the sector.
What we love
The risk-led buying strategy. Rather than buying safe, popular and perhaps bland products, the team at Forty Five Ten stocks their departments with the most unique, trend-led and hard-to-come by items that evoke emotion – whatever the price. This strategy has paid off, Forty Five Ten stands out amongst a sea of department stores offering the same stock with discounts and sales perpetually dominating the shop floor.
The stellar talent. With the likes of Taylor Tomassi Hill and Nick Wooster brought on as Fashion Director and Creative Director, respectively, this store is in the safe hands of some of the fashion industry’s most discerning talents. Not only is this apparent in the buy, it’s also evident in the look and feel of the store, which is architecturally sectioned into beautifully merchandised departments with an eclectic mix of furniture, VM props and luxe finishes.
It’s part of an emerging scene. Once known for bouffants, money and brash glamour, Downtown Dallas is going through a renaissance with the plethora of boutique hotels, innovative restaurants and modern stores rivaling that of the historically cooler state city Austin. Forty Five Ten is in a prime position to reap the benefits of the new Dallas.
Set to open a new outpost in New York, we’re looking forward to what Forty Five Ten is going to do next. What we love most about this store is that it proves department stores can have a very exciting future.
Nordstrom opens its first men’s only store in New York.
What we love
The concept. Nordstrom is not shy about trying new formats (it opened a purchase-free experience store, Nordstrom Local, in LA last year), we love that this store spotlights the male offer, and allows the brand to create something really unique and special in menswear. Sectioning off part of the department store’s portfolio is an interesting way of building loyalty amongst a particular group and diversifies what the brand has to offer consumers.
The small format. Siphoning off menswear allows Nordstrom to create a more curated, bespoke and boutique-like experience. Also the smaller square footage is a less intimidating size to shop, it feels manageable and better suited to busy modern lives.
The service-led shopping experience. The store offers a range of services, from the fee and express alterations, to the full tailoring service, personal stylist appointments, and a Levi’s Tailor Shop that offers customisation. We also love the second floor Clubhouse where customers can unwind and relax with a cup of coffee, and at the front of the store, a dedicated returns station aims to have returns completed within two minutes.
Always at the forefront of experience, Selfridges’ latest campaign Radical Luxury aims to examine what luxury means today through a series of events, pop-ups and exhibitions.
What we love
The concept. Selfridges feels that luxury has become banal so this campaign aims to put the fun back into luxury through a series of installations, panel debates and one-of-a-kind shopping experiences. It’s a nice way to remind consumers of what the brand does best – create wonderfully luxurious experiences – and enables Selfridges to flex its fashion muscles.
The omni-channel strategy. A bit like the music matters campaign we talked about here, Radical Luxury has taken over all aspects of the business, from the shop windows to the brand’s old adjoining hotel, to the website and videos made by Norbert Schoerner and Kathryn Ferguson that play on the social channels.
The range of experiences. Every week the Corner Shop plays host to radical brands such as Issey Miyake, Off-White and Alexander McQueen – a great way of keeping the campaign fresh and customers engaged – it’s also perfectly placed to draw in a new audience (who might not even visit the luxury floor) providing Selfridges with a less daunting open space to educate and tell stories. The collaboration with Google Pixel 2 brings an immersive exhibition called to the Old Selfridges Hotel and Google are sponsoring a talk discussing the role of the store.
Harrods has opened its first charity shop pop-up, Fashion Re-told, in collaboration with the NSPCC.
What we love
It chimes with the times. Synonymous with ostentatious luxury, a Harrods charity shop may seem a little leftfield, however with today’s consumers being more concerned with sustainability and charitable causes than ever before, it seems like a good move (worth noting that Selfridges hosted its charity shop venture over six months before). All the store’s profits go towards the NSPCC.
The Instagram-friendly interior. Although some may be tiring of millennial pink (the new term millennial pinkwashing is a case in point) the saccharine walls and floors are still eye-catching and performing well on social media. On-trend gold-trimmed tables and cocktail chairs complete the look.
The quality of the clothes. All the items have been donated from some of Harrods’ best customers, and it definitely shows. Rather than a hodgepodge of tatty threads, this pop-up is filled with truly interesting fashion and accessory items that are in good condition. The minimal merchandising and uncluttered interior design give it a much more premium feel than your average charity store.
When it comes to navigating the current shifts in the retail sector, department stores are not having an easy time. One big hurdle they face is their sheer size; with ample square footage at their disposal some simply have too much stock and space to provide a curated experience. A few companies are finding innovative ways to combat this issue.
WeWork for instance has bought Lord & Taylor’s New York flagship and is converting the top floors into a co-working space. In order to get to these spaces, the tenants will have to walk through the department store – so a perfect way to attract a whole range of new customers.
In Brixton, the old Bon Marché department store has been redeveloped into a series of workspaces, retail and community hubs, restaurants, a rooftop bar and even a post office. Called The Department Store, this new space has been lovingly restored to echo the original shop but has a more stripped-back interior with light airy rooms and modern finishes.
Current department stores could learn a lot from these new ventures, as we know people are shopping in bricks and mortar stores less and spending their leisure time differently, so it’s definitely time for department stores to rethink their offers. Click here for more on how to future-proof department stores.
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