Back in February, during the NYFW, I had the chance to shop at some cool boutiques that prove that retail spaces can get more of an experience and less of the actual shopping locations. They treat clients in a very exclusive way, present you with a fashion exhibit or art gallery concept, and make you feel more involved with/immersed into the brand’s aesthetics. You don’t need to buy, just get to know the brand and often be seduced by their attitude and approach to style. Soho is definitely fashion heaven, but these two stores took the retail experience to the next level!
At the Phillip Plein pop-up store, you could see various pop culture elements coexisting in the same ‘glass box’, a boutique filled with neon lights, newly arrived runway outfits – along with the sparkly catsuit worn by Irina Shayk – special edition LED display sneakers, retro audio electronics, and a white Ferrari parked inside. It included the ‘No Mercy on Mercer’ motto printed and painted on various collectibles. There was also a radio wall offered to cool kids in town who wanted to be included in the store’s photo gallery.
The other store that got my attention was – as expected – the gallery space or obscure flagship store hosting a representative part of the Off-White collection by Virgil Abloh and standing there quietly a year ago or so. There was a line outside, yet once inside, I felt it was really worth it. At the EM PTY Gallery, every 10 people could experience a tree-decorated minimalist space complemented with bird sounds from the speakers, and dry tree leaves on the concrete floor. Not that many clothes and accessories, yet the key items were right there!
It seems that a brand seeking to maintain a global presence needs to have one or more super cool retail space that goes beyond the actual products and more about the creative vision and the design philosophy. More many customers, there has to be a story behind the brand, one that is relatable and ‘legitimizes’ your urge to spend. Fashion-savvy people are increasing in numbers, and this mostly happens because in our social-media-defined times, anything visual and most importantly wearable has been placed center stage. If music was in the 60s and 70s pop-culture’s most important parameter, today it swaps with fashion. What to wear is driving culture and also describes our way of thinking. This is how I see it and hope that makes sense to you as well. Please send me your feedback in the comments below!