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Inside Selfridges’ reimagined menswear floor

The department store’s new “designer street” space rewires a traditional retail concept with today’s “street-to-designer” shopper in mind.

There was a queue of eager shoppers outside a side entrance of Selfridges’ Oxford Street flagship by 9.30am today, braving the cold to be the first to get inside the retailer’s new “designer street” menswear space.

The 18,000 sq ft destination, located on the department store’s first floor, is the jewel of its menswear space, and is pitched as a new retail concept driven by a unique brand mix and unexpected adjacencies.

Having mined customer data and shopping trends, the “designer street” space was created to cater to a new type of shopper and provide fashion’s current driving trend – what Selfridges calls “street-to-designer”. He – or she – is socially engaged, prefers cross-category shopping, mixes more affordable contemporary and skate brands with luxury designer labels, and straddles the cultures of fashion, music, art and skateboarding.

“It’s a room led by the customer, to cater to how the customer actually shops today,” says Selfridges’ menswear buying manager, Jack Cassidy. “It’s about breaking up the [traditional] adjacencies [and putting] established luxury brands next to emerging labels alongside skate brands. You wouldn’t find these adjacencies anywhere else.”

Now, Versace hangs next to Stone Island. Gucci has been moved into this area and sits next to Japanese streetwear label A Bathing Ape. Flagship displays from Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh, Kenzo and Amiri sit beside emerging London brand A Cold Wall and rails from brands such as Raf Simons, Heron Preston and Helmut Lang.

Curated vintage collections are also on offer alongside a plethora of new, up-and-coming brands such as Ryan Hawaii and Saint London. More than 80 brands are included, and nearly 40 are new additions.

There are tracksuits, tailored jackets, reclaimed denim and graphic T-shirts across a wide price architecture. Large tags signalling that products are exclusive to Selfridges make frequent appearances.

Although the space is menswear focused, Cassidy believes female shoppers will make up a large portion of sales.

“We wanted to tear up the rule book in terms of brand mix, adjacencies and positioning,” he says, and admits some brands took some “persuading” to work in this new way.

Experiential aspects are also prominent, alongside elements of retail theatre and “social media moments”, primed to engage the digitally engaged target shopper.

Anchoring the space is “The Bowl”. The UK’s only free permanent wooden skate bowl makes a statement in one corner. Shoppers can book skate slots online, while the custom-built bowl will also house panel talks, music performances and other in-store events.

A new grooming area aimed at this new shopper profile includes everything from aftershave to male make-up, while Italian fragrance brand Acqua Di Parma will launch its first luxury barber’s shop concept outside Italy here next month.

A restaurant, Brasserie of Light, will also open on 2 November, giving access to food and drink on the menswear floor for the first time.

Designed by Jamie Fobert Architects – the team behind Selfridges’ women’s shoe galleries in 2010 and the women’s designer galleries in 2012 – the new menswear space is light and bright, having uncovered some of the store’s largest external windows.

Neon lights, digital screens and a high-low mixed of materials – from luxe marble to stacked plastic storage boxes – are used throughout, reflecting the approach of mixing brands.

The main fixtures and fittings also echo Selfridges’ fresh approach. An adaptable set of mill-finished aluminium frameworks is used throughout.

“It had to be adaptable, dynamic and flexible” to allow for the new pace of delivery and product drops, explains Cassidy. New products will arrive each week and hot items are expected to sell quickly: “It needed to be able to change quickly. We don’t want to end up with empty rails once things have sold out.”

The launch coincides with the activation of The Yellow Drop, a new Selfridges Instagram account that will speak directly to this social media-obsessed shopper and draw them into the bricks-and-mortar store.

“We launch new products every day, but weren’t telling our customers about it,” says Cassidy. “The Yellow Drop will announce our latest products, starting with [the new menswear area], but also including the rest of the store.”

Although the look of the space feels fresh but still retains the Selfridges signature, and the overarching concept is not entirely new, few retailers have dedicated themselves to this new type of shopper, nor reimagined their stores to please and appeal directly to them to quite this extent.

Some might argue this specific style – think Off-White worn with Gucci and mixed with emerging hype brands and vintage Nike sneakers – might be a passing trend, but it seems Selfridges believe this new, democratic, high-low mix-and-match approach to luxury is here to stay.

And the queue of shoppers lining up outside on day one suggests Selfridges might be on to a winner.

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