Take a look inside the revamped Warehouse flagship on Argyll Street – with an edgy aesthetic that reflects its new upmarket positioning
Warehouse has taken a step further in its rebranding for autumn 16 with the launch of a new store concept, created to reflect the contemporary, edgy feel of the new-look collection, designed by Emma Cook.
The womenswear retailer has undergone a rebranding for this season, led by a new design team that includes design director Emma Cook. A refreshed aesthetic, revamped website and now store fit, designed by Checkland Kindleysides in collaboration with Warehouse brand consultant Alasdhair Willis signal a change in direction for the 40-year-old high street chain.
Warehouse selected its first ever flagship store on London’s Argyll Street (opened in 1979) to kick off the rebrand rollout, ensuring maximum exposure to the capital’s shoppers.
Following on from inspiration behind the womenswear range, the store also uses influences from the London cityscape balancing a modern look with a gritty, urban edge.
“The shop fit really reflects the brand story and the direction and look of the product,” says Joe Evans, creative director of Checkland Kindleysides.
“We wanted to take the energy of the city, London in particular, and make the interior reflect that. There had to be a connection with the edgy origins of the brand,” he adds.
The 2,740 sq ft shop, spread over two floors, brings the outside in with the inclusion of architectural and industrial details including brick walls, Warehouse-branded manhole covers on the floor and metal shop shutters throughout. A sky is painted on the ceiling and some walls come complete with flying birds.
“Some might say it feels masculine but that’s what the city is. It’s not gender specific – it’s a mixture of manmade structures against the softness of the sky. The darker colours really make the product stand out and pop, particularly the prints,” Evans adds.
The metal rails displaying the product throughout the store also follow this urban theme and give a linear, premium feel to the store.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the new concept is the large digital walls beside the shop window and at the rear of the store that are programmed to showcase images from the retailer’s autumn 16 lookbook, complete with birds flying across a “sky” – continuing the outdoorsy feeling inside.
Digital ingenuity is found in the swing tags on certain products that contain Blippar technology. When shoppers scan the tag using the Blippar app, they can view complementary products, styling tips and a video from Cook explaining the inspiration behind the range.
One of the biggest changes was altering the staircase leading to the lower-ground floor from a dog-leg shape to a straight, open stairway. The result is a light, airy space with more fluid movement between the two floors.
This bright feeling continues downstairs, where the changing rooms that line the rear wall are veiled by a frosted perspex wall, allowing light to travel through.
The concept, while tailored to the Argyll Street shop, can be moulded and tweaked to suit each of Warehouse’s 50 stores across the UK, which will all be revamped over the next three years, according to Evans.
“It’s not a cookie-cutter model. There’s some flexibility to exploit existing features.”
He adds: “With this store, we wanted to see how far we could push it. Alasdhair [Willis] and I share a love of British brands. I was really interested in getting involved as it’s not often you get the chance to rejuvenate such an iconic retailer. [Warehouse] deserves to be at the cutting edge of the high street.”