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G-Star Shopwatch - denim engineering

G-Star’s new Oxford Street flagship takes an edited approach more often found in independent stores.

G-Star’s extensive denim catalogue could be a daunting prospect for some when shopping for jeans. However, the Amsterdam-based brand showed it had this all zipped up when it unveiled its new concept London flagship store on Oxford Street in December.

When selling jeans, many retailers have in the past opted for what has become known as a denim wall, offering customers a block of product, with many eager to convince consumers that their range will have something to suit all.

But G-Star has chosen a different strategy in its new store, with a strong focus on individual items and looks rather than a deluge of product. “We wanted to show denim in a clean way,” says the brand’s industrial and interior designer Pieter Kool. “We don’t want to create an entertainment facade, we just want you to buy denim. We’re taking shopping down to the bare essentials of what shopping is all about.”

In keeping with G-Star’s ‘Just the Product’ philosophy, which it has followed since its launch in 1989, the Oxford Street store’s offering is presented in key looks and styles, with mannequins situated on top of units to clearly show the various styles. Below each mannequin a hidden drawer reveals a range of washes and the drawer below that houses varying sizes, allowing shoppers to find their appropriate piece without having to rifle through rails.

A great deal of focus has also been placed on the changing rooms, with G-Star keen to create an intimate feel. Compared with the industrial concrete of the shop floor, the changing rooms have carpets and a lowered ceiling to ensure customers feel comfortable.

Each changing room has its own denim dressing gown and heavy hessian curtain.

The 5,059 sq ft store, alongside John Lewis on the north side of Oxford Street, houses G-Star’s full men’s and women’s ranges, each of which has its own bright and airy floor.

Even the stockroom has been fashioned to create a feeling of openness. The area is exposed with a glass-fronted mezzanine, allowing the stockroom activity to be seen by all.

The store is G-Star’s 19th and largest in the UK. The clutter-free approach is exemplified by the minimal use of furniture amid an industrial-inspired environment. The walls feature large stone tiles and expansive mirrors, making the space feel roomy.

“We wanted to show the product and not hide it. We want you to see that one seam is different from another and show our denim craft,” says Kool.

He explains that this is not a totally new concept but rather a rolling development. “We have a strategy to continuously evolve the concept - if you launch a new concept then all your other stores instantly look really old. We update looks every six months or so as stores open and so that means every few years we have a completely refreshed look.”

Talking point

What do shoppers think of G-Star’s new store? We cornered a few during its opening week to find out

  • William Green, fashion designer

“I’m not a typical G-Star customer, but the mannequins were so well put together it made me come in and have a look around. It shows how good its visual merchandising must be and it worked for me. The interior is really up to scratch and modern, which is always an appealing aspect. The fashion is very urban and trendy and offers lots of choice. “Overall, it makes a creative and innovative atmosphere, which invites a customer like me to walk in and have a look around.”

  • Greg Casswell, student

“From visiting the store I think the brand’s main focal point is ensuring its quality shines through, plus the denim is really cool too. I really like the way the jeans are made and the way they are laid out in the store. This makes me think G-Star is very interesting and worth looking at because it’s different from the other shops. The new store is definitely successful and overall it’s great.”

  • Michael Coad, primary school headteacher

“As soon as I walked into the store I thought it smelt amazing and looked very current and trendy. Not a lot of stores are this different. The interior design is very quirky and generally interesting to look at, especially the wide range of jeans. It’s just really cool.”

  • Guy Monaghan, chef

“Quality is definitely the focal point of the brand and this store really shows that off. If you look at the jeans they are just so well made and there are cool shapes and different fits, which is good because it gives you a choice to see which jeans suit you.”

  • Mahamed Jalloh, student

“I think the design is really well thought through, as it is very simple and extremely well presented. It is very clearly laid out with different types of clothes and denim. Having these sections makes it easier to shop so you can find what you are looking for. As soon as I go into a shop I like to see the thing I want in front of me, so this clear layout is very good.”

  • Carmen Lamagna, shop supervisor

“This was my first time in a G-Star store and I think it’s very nice.

The most important thing I noticed when I came in was the level of customer service here. They really appear to believe in customer interaction, which is very helpful for customers that don’t usually shop here. The store is tidy and clean and all the clothes are easy to find because everything is classified into sections.”

  • Maria Meister, nurse

“This store is very sterile in a good way, which I like a lot, because not many stores are this clean and tidy. It makes it easier to shop if the store is organised and clear. I think having a lot of staff is also good because all the customers can be helped and jobs are always done. There is definitely a good balance of staff asking customers if they need help and not being too pushy for sales.”

  • Zack Bahar, student

“The trendy atmosphere relates perfectly to the clothes. The jeans and denim ranges are really different and original, which I like. The shop is very modern and spacious and the clothes are displayed well to show how good quality they are. I think from just entering the store a customer could tell that the brand is modern and fashionable.”

  • Eva Saiz, cutlery specialist

“I love the layout of the store, it really is the best thing about it. It is tidy and clean, but you can also clearly see all the different types of clothes, which looks nice. It makes the brand special because it shows it thought of the use of space in store and how to best represent the clothes. If stores are too crowded, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for and may ruin the experience.”

  • Difrancesco Anthony, student

“After visiting the store I would most definitely come back again. There is a lot more choice than where I’m from in Belgium and it is a completely different shopping experience, which I like. There is a very friendly atmosphere, which is welcoming and makes me want to come again. I had a very positive experience in the store and everyone was smiling, so I was happy to look around.”

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