Good Retail, Better Retail, Retail’s Best
Retail is now, more than ever, global, and people’s expectations of brands and products are changing in ways they never have before. What makes one brand better than the one before it? Is it the product, the staff, the social media presence? Is it all these combined? Here, RLI is going to highlight a selection of brands and stores that can truly be considered, Retail’s Best.
What makes a retail store work in 2019? Is there a set formula to follow, or is innovation and instinct key? Does location really matter so long as the experience and the products are on point? How big a part does the experiential factor play? In the coming pages RLI is going to attempt to answer this as we put forth a selection of 30 examples of retail at its finest, or if you will, at its best, in the modern retail world!
With its stadiuminspired – largest in the world NYC store, Adidas has kicked off an opportunity to bring its love of sports to a sellout crowd. Designed by Adidas with Checkland Kindleysides and Gensler to resemble the look and feel of high school sports stadiums, the fourstorey space has a raw underground aesthetic that captures the experience of the locker room, the bleachers and gruelling training sessions. Vast, immersive and following hot on Nike’s heels, it’s the company’s way of saying ‘game on’.
Aesop’s store in the heart of Chelsea has been hailed the cult Aussie skincare brand’s most Instagrammable. Created by the architect responsible for Europe’s first underwater restaurant, the space, Aesop’s largest in Europe at 1.163sq ft is situated just off Sloane Square in London and is a departure from its regular neutral palette, as the walls are painted pale pink and 12 dramatic arches line the shop’s perimeter.
Also in London is Alexander McQueen’s new store on Bond Street. It features archive designs as well as modern collections, and the site is adorned with photographs and artworks throughout which pay homage to the brand’s fascination with nature. Plans for the store include refreshing the interiors each season with fabrics from the studio much like the products. The focus on storytelling is apparent throughout the store and is a must visit for fans of the brand.
Completed by Foster + Partners, Apple’s store in Macau is set in a plaza surrounded by dense thickets of bamboo, and the cuboidal Apple Centre Cotai glows from within, thanks to an innovative façade made from a composite of glass and stone. Entirely surrounded by the stoneglass, the firstfloor offers a view down over the bamboo. The store also features a 10.6m tall video wall at one end, positioned close to the entrance of an adjacent retail area and casino.
A new beauty concept store from Chanel is located in NYC and is focused on discovery and play for the next generation of luxury shopper. The design behind the store is to ensure a personalised experience for each and every guest. The store is also home to a makeup station and skincare counter, which has been implemented to entice visitors to take a moment to stop and experiment.
In Paris, Balmain has opened a new boutique that is home to label’s full collection. Following the concept of Parisian residential architecture, customers step through multiple archways to a conjoining room where they are presented with a new interior of a Parisian living space. Feelings of a catwalk are evoked with floortoceiling mirrors and huge chandeliers that shine a spotlight onto gold decorated glass cabinets which are home to the latest accessories.
Bottega Veneta has made a bold statement with their sixstory store in Ginza, Tokyo. The store’s exterior is decked in silver panels that mimic Bottega’s trademark intrecciato technique. Meanwhile inside there are clear homages being paid to Japanese design with Kyoto white plaster and Tamo timber. Italy is not forgotten here either, with Italian marble and furniture from two heavyweight Italian designers, Giò Ponti and Gianfranco Frattini.
Burberry’s London store needs no introduction, however what does, is its new art installation, which now adorns the centre of the worldfamous store. Created by artist Graham Hudson, a threestorey scaffolding design features 80 cameras that take 360degree photos. The centrepiece of the installation is a robot that creates sculptures of the human body that are then displayed around the structure as art, a bold move by Burberry to transform experiential retail and really challenge the idea of a traditional store.
Canadian fashion brand Canada Goose has opened its largest store in Montreal, complete with a builtin fridge! Temperatures can reach as low as 25 degrees, perfect for testing out the products on offer, especially when they come with a high price tag. Working with Polar Bears International for more than a decade, the store reflects this with polar bear sculptures made by Inuit artists; communities that the brand supports to continue living off the land and sea.
Delvaux, the oldest leather goods house in the world has gone back to Rome with the opening of a new store. Founded in Belgium in 1829, the store was designed by Vudafieri Saverino and recalls the domus romana – the typical house inhabited by the upper classes in the age of Augustus and not one that you would expect to see in the luxury retail segment in 2019 which is usually dominated by marble minimalism.
German womenswear designer Escada’s new store on Sloane Street is attempting to capture a younger, more digitally engaged audience. Introducing a stripped back concept with golden abstract lighting fixtures hanging above minimalist Japanese paintings, the minimalist design is on point for the brand and it feels part of a broader trend to use its physical spaces to engage with customers on a more human level.
Direct-to-consumer beauty company Glossier is part of a new movement towards less formal brands that garner the same fierce love that traditional luxury labels have among their customers. Opening on Lafayette Street in SoHo, New York, the store is a place for customers to engage with the brand, and the store is more luxurious than your average beauty store, with each product out on display, looking more like high-end goods than affordable make-up.
The site of Gucci Museo, a multifunctional creative space, has been redesigned and reimagined by Alessandro Michele. The three-storey building includes an exhibition space, a restaurant run by Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, and a boutique stocking exclusive merchandise with products that are only available at Gucci Garden. For fans of Gucci, this space may become something of a mecca and a must-see space.
The first Hipanda flagship store in Japan in Tokyo, like the Chinese brand itself, subver ts the normally associated care-free attitude of the panda bear by presenting a grumpy version of it, dubbed the anti-Hello Kitty, it throws a curve ball in-store by turning the shop into a ghost house. Designed by Curiosity, the space uses light and AR tech to create a series of personalised pathways that lead customers in search of an invisible ghost.
Fashion company H&M’s massive Barcelona store is the company’s first to have a food offering, courtesy of Flax & Kale. In-store there is a mix of materials used, from marble to wood to glass, and a design that is sympathetic to the building itself. The store offers a complete brand experience, housing all of H&M’s clothing, kids, home and beauty ranges under one giant roof.
The biggest LEGO store in the world is situated in London’s Leicester Square. The unique space is filled with life-sized models, including a replica London Underground carriage that visitors can sit in, adding an experiential element to the store. The store is a perfect showcase for the LEGO brand and even offers guests the opportunity to buy a personalised LEGO mosaic of their face.
Last year saw the revamping of Longchamp’s store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Now reopened, what the store has lost in its eye-catching look, it has more than made up for in terms of store experience, with a lot of natural textures and light within the space, which when combined with the new layout, offers a lot of space for customers to move through and explore the products on offer.
A one-of-a-kind concept for the brand, Louis Vuitton’s Island Maison in Singapore has a glass façade that makes the store look more like a museum or art gallery than a retail space, especially given its position on the waterside. This nautical theme extends to the design and serves to underline the luxury nature of the brand, conjuring up the idea of private yachts in a shop that comes across as more of a lifestyle destination.
Fashion brand Miu Miu’s striking Tokyo store is made of steel. Looking a little like an open box on its side, the interior of the store features metal copper walls that reflect the products on display. An innovative space that has minimal products on show, the layout encourages customers to interact with individual items. The idea is to entice new customers, but for people who already know the brand, it is designed to make them want to spend time there.
The Moncler Madison Avenue store in New York celebrates both the location and the brand’s synonymous jackets. The store is home to the most extensive array of Moncler products in North America and the launch featured a special American flag made up of 28 one-off jackets designed by Thom Browne. Inside, the store balances light and dark marble with specially-designed pieces of artwork, including a kinetic light sculpture from Belgian artist Bardula.
MUJI’s store in Tokyo’s Yurakucho is its largest store worldwide; however this can be deceiving from the outside. The store houses three floors and every single product MUJI produces to buy. In keeping with the brand ethos, the design is simple, but effective, all decked in wood and glass. The wow factor for this store comes from the two-storey sheet metal MUJI house, which sits inside the store and lets customers explore the company’s offering in room sets.
Quintessentially British brand Mulberry’s most recent London store on Regent Street houses a number of innovative design features. With a distinct mix of modern and heritage, Mulberry has utilised the space to extend its omni-channel capabilities too, with the store to soon feature mobile payment points, click-and-collect, two-hour delivery and endless aisle shopping. Store assistants are also equipped with technology to personalise the shopping experience for repeat customers, and create a seamless link between online and offline.
The design team at Nike has transformed a 68,000sq ft building at 650 5th Avenue into the Nike House of Innovation for what is quite possibly its most impressive location to date. It is an incredible example of immersive shopping with customers able to try out Nike products on treadmills, a basketball court and play football. While the design offers the wow factor, it is the experiential elements that elevate this over other Nike stores.
Prada’s Tokyo Epicenter store, which was Japan’s largest flagship store at time of opening, is another store that utilises glass for impact. The unique, diagonal grid design makes it possible to see inside the entire store, something incredibly enticing for visitors. Inside there are six floors of Prada products from menswear to womenswear to fragrances meaning brand enthusiasts and new visitors can find anything they desire.
Located in the historic turn-of-the-century Palazzo Delle Poste building on Piazza Cordusio, the Starbucks Roastery Reserve in Milan is the culmination of a dream decades in the making, with every detail of the space designed to honour the indelible magic of the city. The new Roastery includes such elements as a terrace, a main bar, a scooping bar, a roasting area and a back patio. For any Starbucks fan, this is the place to go.
The Stella McCartney store on Old Bond Street is considerably different in comparison with its counterparts. Store space is lined with pebble dash, recycled foam and cardboard taken from McCartney’s London offices. The brand’s sustainable ethos is reflected throughout the store; it has an air conditioning system by Airlabs that cleans the air using nano carbon technology. The more curious customer can visit the club space on the top floor which has a roster of events and exhibitions.
If you’ve ever wanted to have ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ like in the film, well now you can. Shoppers on Fifth Avenue in New York can now order breakfast at Tiffany’s in New York City, after the luxury jewellery company opened a café as part of their renovation on the Manhattan flagship store. The restaurant, which serves American food, sits four floors above the street and overlooks Central Park.
Christian Siriano’s new fashion boutique, The Curated in New York is a must-see for fans of luxury shopping experiences. Situated in a beautiful Midtown townhouse, it boasts pink velvet couches, spiral staircases and beautiful artwork that can be purchased. The eight-story space includes Siriano’s design atelier, offices and a garden café. True to the brand’s DNA it offers something for everyone, luxury retail for all.
The Shop at Bluebird in Covent Garden is a treasure trove of new discoveries. Whether it’s a niche, contemporary brand or bigger, more familiar names, Bluebird brings pieces that they love and are excited to share. Part concept store, part cabinet of curiosity, the Shop at Bluebird is a place to find something you’ve never seen before. The centrepiece of the 15,000sq ft space is a cobbled courtyard with a vaulted glass ceiling.
Luxury Italian brand Tod’s has launched a boutique ‘Sloane Apartment’ in London. The chic interior is full of Instagrammable photo spots, with beautiful marble flooring and lush furniture. There are many lounge areas across the two-floor space, which is part of a clear aim to create a genuinely social store. There’s also a bar by the entrance, which is in-keeping with a wider retail trend for in-store cafes and drinks spaces.