With its art gallery vibe and deconstructed shopfit, the luxury newcomer vows to challenge retail preconceptions.
Setting up a premium fashion boutique at the base of a block of flats in gritty north-west London may not be the most conventional route to fashion success, but Andrew Ibi, owner of The Convenience Store, is no conventional operator.
“With the location I’m not looking for footfall,” says Ibi. “I want to provide a store which is specifically aimed at the fashion-conscious customer who is looking for something different, but who still wants that element of discovery. I want it to be a destination store for those in the know. Fashion retail is evolving, and it is important to be different. The high street is so powerful, so indies need to be more shrewd than ever before.”
The unlikely location, amid the concrete expanse of Kensal Town and in the shadow of the iconic 31-storey Trellick Tower, is all part of The Convenience Store’s fresh slant on luxury fashion.
Set up by Ibis, a former fashion designer, the store in Golborne Gardens focuses on exclusive statement pieces from high-end designers and stocks an eclectic mix of established names alongside emerging design talent. Labels include Rick Owens, Ann-Sofie Back, Gustavo Lins and Boudicca, alongside rising stars such as Clare Tough, Hannah Marshall and Sophie Hulme.
The décor inside The Convenience Store has a minimalist, urban feel, with a nod to the industrial landscape outside. The flooring is made up of composite wooden cement boards, giving the effect of stylised concrete.
Taking inspiration from art galleries, the clothing is hung on metal wires suspended from the ceiling. In the unit’s central area, a huge sliding screen is mounted on industrial warehouse tracks which bisect the store.
The front of the store is lit by large windows and natural light, and contains a table and chairs designed as a space for customers and locals to “catch up”. “I want the store to represent something aspirational for the local community – to be a hybrid of a gallery and a shop,” says Ibi. “I want it to be a community store. I’m looking at extending the concept of fair trade further into fashion by looking at the social aspect of the environment in which you are selling. Shopping should be pleasurable, it should be an experience.”
Beyond the sliding screen, the store has a more luxurious feel, with two huge changing rooms in which a sheepskin rug covers the ground, with floor-to-ceiling red, silk drapes and soft lighting.
The product is merchandised loosely by colour rather than brand. Says Ibi: “I wanted to create an environment less about brand, and more about product.”
Only single pieces are displayed, with duplicates hung on an industrial rail at the rear of the store. “I wanted the shop to be deconstructed, so people can see what’s going on behind the scenes,” he adds. “It is based on the idea that nothing is what it seems.”
The Convenience Store 1a Hazelwood Tower, Golborne Gardens, London W10
450sq ft: The size of the store
13: Number of labels stocked
August 08: The month in which the store opened
£450: Entry price point. The top price is £2,000