The globally popular luggage brand touches down on Carnaby Street with a dramatic young fashion statement
US luggage specialist Eastpak is renowned for its globally ubiquitous backpack. The appeal of this functional design classic means the bag is as likely to be spotted hugging the shoulders of tailored commuters and yummy mummies as it is on the backs of the skater kids and students who helped to popularise the brand.
Creating a retail environment which appeals to this kaleidoscope of consumers, embraces the brand’s fashion meets function aesthetic and presents its spectrum of styles was the challenge faced by Eastpak in launching its first UK standalone store.
“Eastpak is very well known in Europe but less well known in the UK, so London was a natural choice,” says Richard Mazzega-Ward, Eastpak’s country manager for the UK and Republic of Ireland. “We needed to up the profile of Eastpak and Carnaby Street in London provided the right opportunity with its mix of tourist traffic, many of whom will already know the brand. Plus it gives us the chance to present Eastpak to London fashion kids who may not know it so well.”
A boulevard of global young fashion brands, the once again swinging Carnaby Street is an appropriate avenue for Eastpak. Situated at Number One Carnaby Street, the flagship store commands a dramatic corner position. The double-fronted fascia with its expanse of smoked glass, product-laden display boxes and rucksacks suspended from the ceiling on steel cables, offers hurried nine-to-fivers and meandering shoppers a glimpse into the world of the brand.
Backpacks and luggage in saturated brights and vivid 1980s-inspired prints are presented on a sophisticated construction of black mock croc-skin fixtures.
The ground floor is dominated by a DJ booth (which at weekends is open to budding vinyl jockeys) and a wave-shaped resin unit. This tomato red centrepiece references the skate bowls and half-pipes popularised by skateboarders and BMXers, for whom Eastpak has become a uniform.
Reinforced clear glass floor panels allow a peek at the lower ground floor which is home to clothing, luggage and Eastpak’s collaboration with the StolenSpace Gallery, which provides a platform for street-inspired photographers and subway artists.
A plasma screen behind the cash desk shows videos of gravity-defying antics and tucked alongside is a bijou area dedicated to the brand’s premium collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons.
Mannequins show off Eastpak’s new clothing collection which is inspired by boardsports and is characterised by padded outerwear, hoodies and jerseys. “Another reason behind us opening the shop was the clothing launch,” says Mazzega-Ward. “Our biggest challenge in launching clothing is breaking down perceptions that Eastpak is just a luggage brand. And judging by our sales figures on clothing, the store is doing that job.”
Size of the two-floor Eastpak flagship
Typical retail prices
Number of flagship stores around the world
Number of Eastpak shop-in-shops in the UK, at Selfridges in London and Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames