Selfridges revealed its new destination for bodywear at the Oxford Street store last week and this week will launch a corresponding campaign celebrating health and fitness.
Selfridges is not a retailer that sits still, so it seems fitting that its latest unveiling is a haven for activewear. At 37,000 sq ft, the Body Studio is the biggest new space Selfridges has opened to date, stealing the crown from the 35,000 sq ft shoe gallery, which opened in 2010.
On the third floor next to contemporary womenswear, the Body Studio also stocks lingerie, swimwear, sleepwear, holidaywear, hosiery and loungewear brands.
“Lingerie sits at the core, but it’s more about what the fashion industry produces that isn’t ready-to-wear or outerwear,” explains head fashion buyer for digital Lydia King.
The Body Studio stocks more than 150 brands, including exclusives from Ivy Park, the new activewear brand from Arcadia Group owner Sir Philip Green and singer Beyoncé, exclusive lingerie sets from Panache, Chantelle and Coco de Mer, and new labels, such as beach and swimwear brands Bondi Born and Rae Feather.
In keeping with the wider Selfridges store there are a mix of more accessible brands – a Panache bra for £40-£50 – and the aspirational (prices go up to £2,500 for a Carine Gilson silk kimono). There are only two concessions: for Agent Provocateur and Myla.
The aim is to tap into the zeitgeist for all things health and wellness-related, and to that end the Body Studio has a gluten-free cafe run in partnership with London-based chefs Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, and a Daniel Galvin hair salon.
An accompanying advertising campaign, entitled “Everybody”, was shot using non-professional models of varying body shapes and ethnicities, and will be released next week. It will include a short film examining the relationship women have with their bodywear.
Eventually there will be exercise classes on the third floor, but in the meantime, pop-up yoga and spinning classes will be held in its “Ultralounge” on the lower-ground floor.
Mannequins are dotted about Body Studio, some contorted into advanced yoga postures, while other, more subtle elements in the design underline the focus on wellbeing. Designers Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri & Hu, who are based between London and Shanghai, looked to the Far East and its reputation for holistic and spiritual wellness for inspiration – seen, for example, in the softly lit partition screens, which look like Japanese sliding doors.
Each product category is separated by the fixtures and fittings, as well as subtle changes in music. Terrazzo flooring and brass detailing in the loungewear section lead through to oak and walnut flooring in lingerie, while swimwear has more of a raw finish.
The lingerie department has doubled in size, and Selfridges has upped its staff by almost 70% to 120. There is a luscious Fit Studio for one-on-one advice by appointment only, as well as standard fitting rooms. There are 20 Fit Studio experts who are clearly passionate about what they do, seeking honest feedback on the style, fit and quality of various brands.
The Body Studio was two years in the planning and took around 10 months to build. To make room for it, Selfridges moved its head office staff to a building on nearby Wigmore Street.
The decision to give it so much space followed conversations about how to refresh the lingerie department and make more of emerging trends in hosiery, activewear and wearable tech.
The Selfridges team is aware that the 107-year-old business must evolve to stay fresh.
“We’re a heritage department store, so we’re constantly looking at how we stay relevant in an era of online shopping,” King explains. It is also facing increased competition from the likes of Harvey Nichols, which this week revealed its overhauled menswear department.
The Body Studio is the latest stage of Selfridges’ five-year, £300m refit, which started in 2014. It is now focusing on revamping the accessories hall, which should be done before Christmas.
The entire project – including a new entrance on Duke Street – is due for completion by 2018.