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Bench, Glasgow

A gritty urban shopfit in the streetwear brand’s Scottish flagship is lifted by some imaginative touches.

The moment a unit came up for grabs on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, Bench head of retail Greig Fowler jumped at the opportunity to take the space.

A Scot himself, Fowler was keen to lay some retail foundations for streetwear brand Bench in his native land, identifying the strong synergies between Scottish youth culture, the diverse Scottish retail scene and Bench’s target market.

Today, Glasgow is on any streetwear brand’s hit list for a mono-brand store – just ask G-Star and USC, which have both capitalised on Glasgow’s appeal, a city that offers brands a retail gateway to Scotland and an inroad into its vibrant student culture.

“Glasgow captures everything as a city and Buchanan Street is a lifestyle street in the same way that Covent Garden is to London,” says Fowler. “It is a unique area, and we wanted the store to reflect that. It’s an urban street and we want shoppers to be able to feel and taste that.”

After joining Bench two years ago from Ted Baker, Fowler used his experience gained at the lifestyle brand to set about opening new Bench stores, striving to achieve a sense of retail theatre. “[After being at Ted Baker] I know that retail is about good product but it is also a form of entertainment. If a customer comes in once every six months I want them to see something different.”

The storefit by design consultants Barber Design is geared towards the ‘urban youth’ shopper, a description that is becoming rather clichéd in today’s young fashion retail market. Some of the design elements found in the store, such as exposed brickwork and metal framework, are also typically seen in young fashion shopfits across the high street. The construction site feel to parts of the store are supposed to represent the growth and development of the brand, with technological touches giving a nod to its future.

However, finishing touches such as punchy neon signage, prickly barbed wire, diamond metal fencing and product cages suspended from the ceiling add a bold authenticity to Bench’s design. Changing rooms in the style of tube carriages are quirky, and bold oversized graphics of the Manchester skyline comprise a confident shopfit for the brand, which pays tribute to Bench’s heritage. The pièce de resistance is the camera offering shoppers the chance to take photos of themselves, which then appear in the store window seconds later.

Catering for the fickle youth market isn’t an easy task, but Bench has provided customers with a compelling enough offer to keep them biting.

Bench currently has three stores in the UK. Four new stores in Bluewater in Kent, White City in west London, Liverpool and Bristol have been signed for this year. “We are happy with the guts of the shopfit,” says Fowler. “But with every new store you want to stretch the boundaries.”

2,786sq ft:
The size of the Buchanan Street store
6: Number of weeks taken to complete the new shopfit
4: The number of new Bench stores signed for this year

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