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Marc by Marc Jacobs, London

The diffusion line’s UK retail debut turns a former bank building into what feels like a designer pick ‘n’ mix

Finally, after the rumours started about two years ago, it’s here. Marc Jacobs opened his much-anticipated store for his Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion line on South Audley Street in London’s Mayfair last month - the first in the UK.

The 3,896sq ft shop occupies the site of a former bank in a 19th-century building, which contrasts with the eye-catching window display that pays homage to the store’s UK arrival. A vast, undulating wall is dominated by a huge Union Jack backdrop made up from synthetic white, red and blue roses.

The brave and innovative concept makes a refreshing break from the highly polished retail sheen of most of Jacobs’ designer peers. In store, the atmosphere is that of an Aladdin’s cave, or a designer pick ‘n’ mix. Bright rucksacks, shoes and purses dangle from the high ceilings, and plastic boxes are filled with key rings, bracelets, stripy woollen hats and lipstick pens, which start from a democratic £1. An extensive collection of art books adds to the treasure trove feel, while the building’s original parquet floor, covered in part by a royal blue carpet, strays away from the minimalist, luxury interior of traditional designer stores, including the Marc Jacobs mainline store on nearby Mount Street.

The plastic boxes are also used as wall fixtures to hold colourful T-shirts - some of which are exclusive to the London store with prints of the old Routemaster bus - and jeans and flip-flops.

The Marc by Marc Jacobs ready-to-wear collection is hung on stainless steel fixtures, which line the walls from floor to ceiling, and is merchandised largely by colour. Womenswear takes up most of the ground floor, with menswear occupying a space left of the entrance.
Towards the back of the store, perfumes, sunglasses and umbrellas sit on powder blue shelves in front of a mirrored wall. Three changing rooms are also here, as are the stairs to the basement, or The Vault, as the neon sign says, where the former bank’s original vaults have been transformed into retail, office and stockroom space.

Downstairs, the same metal fixtures house an impressive collection of handbags, ranging from leather purses at £45 to large totes at £415. One shelf is given over to footwear, while more plastic boxes offer yet more trinkets.

The store is understood to be trading above expectations and, given the various languages heard inside, it is clear that tourists are making the most of the weak pound. But such is Marc Jacobs’ cachet - not to mention the wide price architecture - that UK shoppers are also likely to flock here, long after the novelty has passed.

Essentials

  • 3,896sq ft Size of the store’s shop floor
  • Two Number of floors
  • 187 Number of Marc Jacobs mainline and diffusion line stores worldwide

Marc by Marc Jacobs 56 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1

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