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Boutique by Jaeger, London

The premium retailer is attempting to broaden its appeal with a younger, more affordable sub-brand, Boutique. Its London pop-up shop showcases the collection

Mention the name Jaeger and a whole series of associations are likely to come into play, top of which are likely to be British, classic and maybe tailored. Given the direction the retailer has taken since the arrival of chief executive Belinda Earl in 2005, this may or may not be the case, but it is perceptions that count in fashion.

In fact, much has changed since Earl took the helm and the retailer’s offer now consists of several sub-brands, from the Black range at the top end, to the latest addition, Boutique. The latter has just been unveiled and, according to Earl, is aimed at providing female Jaeger wannabes with a range that is “younger” and more affordable.

Boutique was launched in selected stores two weeks ago and as a pop-up store on Foubert’s Place in central London, where the collection will be showcased in a small two-floor unit for the next six months. The location of the pop-up, less than a minute’s walk from the Regent Street flagship, carries with it the advantage that it can be closely monitored by head office, ahead of any decision to open more permanent stores for the range.

Earl says the move was “opportunistic” and that the deal to take the unit was only signed a week or so before opening, but she is clearly pleased as it gives the opportunity to assess Boutique’s performance away from the umbrella of an in-store space.

Key looks and merchandise mix

As a brand, Jaeger is at the tailored end of things and tends to carry a high price ticket, particularly for the more structured pieces. As Jaeger Boutique is intended to be younger and more accessible in terms of affordability, you’d expect it therefore to be comparable with, say, Banana Republic or maybe (at a push) the higher end of Gant. In fact it turns out to be considerably cheaper than the Jaeger mainline, with several blouses at £85 (there is even a £55 teal jersey tunic) and rising to £125, while dresses are between £99 and £125. An entry price is provided by a small range of T-shirts from £35.

And if there is one feature that could be said to characterise much of what this collection is about, it would be the zip. There are zips on dresses, multiple zips on jackets, there’s even a zipped spot jacquard dress.

Is it affordable, however? You still have to be reasonably well-heeled to buy much more than individual pieces.

Score 6/10

Visual merchandising

This is a small store, and both floors would struggle to make more than three people standing in a line across its width feel comfortable. That said, there is still room for a trio of chummy-looking mannequins to stand with linked arms in the window. Designed by mannequin manufacturer Universal Display specifically for the Boutique range, these clean, white figures set a fresh tone for the store, which is followed through with white runner rails, used to display the merchandise on the ground floor.

This is a pop-up store, although at times you’d be hard-pressed to realise this. The rest of the visual merchandising is minimalist, ranging from cheerful vases of sunflowers to an outsize version of a child’s plastic windmill, in yellow and white, at the back of the ground floor.

Also at the rear, small gift-like accessories are displayed on a series of clear acrylic shelves - a strong and cheap solution that focuses the eye on the product, rather than the means used to show it off. All quite simple, but effective.

Score 6/10

Service

As you’d expect, the service is welcoming and in a store of this size, it would be hard to miss the staff. Equally, although your correspondent did not see a transaction taking place, it

would seem reasonable to assume that buying something would be quick and straightforward, owing to the central positioning of the cash desk on the ground floor.

If you do venture downstairs to the basement, where elements from the core Jaeger collection are currently on sale, pleasant and unassuming service is also on hand. Jaeger is a retailer that carries a certain cachet in many quarters, but this does not translate into a snooty attitude to service.

Score 7/10

Store appeal

The thing about the Jaeger pop-up store is the wallpaper, a feature that defines the entire look and feel of the store. Consisting of a series of style-based sketches and shaded line drawings, the illustrations feature everything from coat hangers and 1960s shaken-not-stirred Martinis, to moody-looking fashion vamps with dramatic make-up.

The point about this is that a number of the wallpaper’s details are used as props around the store. So the Martini glass, for instance, is turned into a 2D black outline that stands proud of the main wall, acting as a form of icon and confirming what you have noticed on the wallpaper.http://retailcms.inform.web2.emap.net/CMS/storyEdit.aspx#

In the best pop-up style, the rest of the store is white and very simple.

This carries the advantage that should this standalone concept prove a runner for Earl and her team, rolling out the format will be both inexpensive and rapid - but she emphasises that what is on view is very much a trial.

The entire store was put together in a matter of four or five days and yet, impressively, it doesn’t feel this way.

Score 8/10

Would I buy?

Yes, very possibly, although there may be a few too many zips for some people’s liking. The store works as a small, bijou outlet that will probably succeed in attracting people in for whom the main Jaeger stores may be

a trifle intimidating. And here’s the thing - in spite of this being both younger and cheaper than the mainline, it still manages to look and feel like Jaeger.

Score 7/10

Verdict 34/50

Jaeger continues to expand its sub-brand offer and the chances of this one succeeding seem good. At a moment when there is pressure on prices, this looks like a positive move.

Essentials

Location Foubert’s Place, London W1F

Floors Two

Opening date August 6, 2010

Fit-out time Five days

Major design feature The wallpaper

Mannequin design Universal Display

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